Do I Need a VPN as a Student?
Whether you’re just about to enter college at USC, or it’s your fourth year at Harvard or Stanford, or even if you’re just in high school, you should be using a VPN. VPN stands for virtual private network, and as you’ll come to find out, they are very useful.
What is a VPN?
VPNs are security tools used among businessmen, everyday internet users, and yes–even students!
A VPN works by sending your internet traffic through a secure tunnel that encrypts all of your outgoing internet data. Unlike a proxy–a VPN actually encrypts your data, but it also changes your IP address to that of a remote server.
VPN’s use ciphers to encrypt your data. Depending on your VPN, this could mean anything from weaker 128-bit blowfish encryption to the strongest cipher of 256-AES. Some VPNs even make you pay more for higher encryption or stronger RSA keys.
In terms of general use, this means that VPNs can be used to access Netflix in other countries, or even give users access to websites that block users based on geo-restrictions. For students, there are a lot of uses for VPN.
Why do Students Need a VPN?
If you’re a student there’s plenty of ways you can make use of a VPN. VPNs are very easy to use, and they won’t break your budget (unlike Textbooks and tuition). Overall, they will make your life at University more secure, less stressful, and in some cases more fun!
Did we mention fun? A lot of universities and schools block video games on their network to save bandwidth. Some even block video games by accident. By first logging into your chosen VPN, you can unblock a lot of these restrictions for your school’s network since you are connecting to a remote server with a different IP. Game on!
- Stay safe while torrenting
While you might not be as worried about downloading torrent files at home, it might be more scary to do so at college or school. A lot of network admins or college RAs try to scare students into not using P2P with threat of copyright notices.
In fact, a lot of colleges do send copyright notices to students, and it’s fairly common for schools to lash out and restrict student’s access to the network after these incidences, or even enforce some kind of mandatory course about the use of P2P on school networks.
This might be more of a concern for graduate or PHD students, but all students should be keen to keep their data private, whether they hold the secret code for a startup, or just some files they don’t want anyone getting access to. How would this happen? On to our next point…
- Keep connections safe while in library, cafes, or other public spaces
Students in college or other schools often use public Wi-Fi in libraries, cafes, or bookshops. These public Wi-Fi hotspots are usually unsecured and it’s quite easy for malicious users to spoof fake Wi-Fi names to trick users into using their controlled network.
There have been numerous examples where users in coffee shops or libraries have had their Facebook messages read, emails read, or even information stolen. VPNs protect and encrypt your traffic so none of that can happen!
Which VPNs are good for school?
Now that you see the need for a VPN for your college or school, the question is which VPN should you use for school?
Unfortunately, not all VPNs are created equal since VPN companies direct their efforts and money on different things. Some VPNs spend a majority of their money on marketing, while some actually invest a lot of money into creating stable performance and new security features.