If you've ever worked remotely on your company's computer, you've probably used a virtual private network or VPN. Why? Because it protects the company's devices from being hacked or getting malware on the network.

If you don't know about VPNs, I'll explain. Every device that connects to the internet has an IP address. This shows where you're located and what you're doing online to your internet provider, the government, and hackers. My laptop, for example, has an IP address at a local coffee shop, and an IP address when I return home and connect to my WiFi network. This presents some security threats regarding your data and activity.

A virtual private network, or VPN, gives you a different IP address to hide your location. For example, even if I'm at home, by connecting to a virtual private network anyone looking or gathering data will see that my computer and connection are in Frankfurt, Germany. This is especially important while working on public WiFi, as it hides your computer from the network.

There are other benefits. Most of the streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Spotify have the rights to show certain movies only in some countries. If I log onto a virtual private network in Canada, I can watch the TV series Fargo on Netflix. If I search for it in the United States, it doesn't appear in the results.

There are several recommended VPN services: Express VPN, Nord, and CyberGhost. These are subscription services that work on all of your devices. You connect by choosing a location and connecting.

If you only work from home and have no interest in streaming content or playing games in other countries, a VPN isn't essential. But if you work remotely, live in an apartment, condo, or dorm, you should have a VPN and use it on your computers, phones, and tablets.

I don't recommend free VPN services. Your privacy is worth paying for.

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