What is a VPN?
So that is the topic of this Article. Now VPN stands for virtual private network A VPN is what establishes a secure and reliable network connection over an unsecured network such as the Internet. It protects your internet activity and disguises your identity as you surf the internet. So for example, when you order internet service from your ISP or internet service provider, they will set up your internet connection and when your setup is complete your internet activity is routed through your ISP servers. Your ISP can see and log all of your internet activity. So they can see every website that you visited.
Now typically this wouldn’t be a problem if they kept your internet activity private. However, there is a possibility that your ISP could share your information with other third parties such as advertisers or maybe even the government and if this were to happen your internet activity is no longer private. But by using a VPN your online activity will bypass your ISP’s server and will be redirected to another server, which is a VPN server. This means that your internet provider or any other party can no longer see what websites you are visiting.
The VPN server is now your source where all of your internet activity goes through. This has several benefits. The first benefit is that a VPN will disguise your identity by hiding your IP address. Whenever you order internet service from a provider, they will assign you an IP address. That unique IP address is attached to your home or business. So whenever you visit a website, that website can see your IP address. But when using a VPN, websites can no longer see your IP address, they now only see the IP address of the VPN server which effectively hides your identity, so you can surf the internet anonymously.
Another benefit is that a VPN will encrypt and protect your internet data. Whenever you go on the internet, the data that you send and receive is broken down into a bunch of smaller data packets. These data packets travel across the public internet and ultimately find their way to their destination. But as they are traveling across the internet, your data can be viewed by ISPs and governments, and it can also be intercepted by hackers, especially if you use public Wi-Fi networks. But a VPN will prevent this.
A VPN will encapsulate each data packet by adding an extra layer of protection to each one which is known as tunneling. This extra layer adds a layer of protection to ensure your data is secure and kept private as it travels across the internet in a virtual tunnel. So any activity that you do on the internet such as visiting web pages or transferring files, the data is encrypted and kept private when using a VPN.
And third, you’ll be able to access internet content that would normally be restricted in certain geographical locations. So for example, some internet content such as videos from YouTube and Netflix may only be accessible in certain countries and restricted in others. And these websites can tell which country you’re in by your IP address.
So if you’re in a restricted country you will not be able to access certain content. But by using a VPN you can pick from different VPN servers available in different countries, which changes your IP address, effectively changes your location, and gives you access to restricted internet content. So if you’re in South America and you want to access certain content that’s only available in the U.S., you can use a VPN and choose a VPN server that’s located in the U.S. so you can access that content.
A fourth benefit of a VPN is that it provides a secure connection for remote workers. So as an example, some businesses may have employees that work remotely from their computers at home and they need those employees to have the ability to access files at the main office. Now this could be done by using a leased line. A leased line provides a dedicated channel that can connect two sites together through a reserved private circuit. These lines are rented for a monthly fee and they can be expensive especially if the distance between the two sites is far from each other. But instead of using a leased line, businesses can use a VPN. A VPN uses the existing public network such as the Internet to establish a remote connection. And when a VPN is connected it acts like a secure private network. It provides a dedicated link between two points over the internet. So even though this office and this home are in two separate locations, it doesn’t matter, a VPN makes them one private network virtually.
So who would need a VPN? Well a VPN is for anyone who wants to be extra safe on the internet. It reassures that you’re surfing the internet safely, securely, and anonymously. And if you’re the type of person who uses a lot of public Wi-Fi networks such as in hotels, airports, and coffee shops, well in that case it should be mandatory that you use a VPN. Because a lot of cyber criminals will create a free Wi-Fi network in a public place and they’ll make it look legit. And when people connect to it thinking that it belongs to that place that they’re in, they are really connecting to the cyber criminal’s network, where the criminal can steal their data.
VPNs can be used on all of your devices such as desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Now some VPN providers are free and some you have to pay for. The major difference is how they treat your internet activity. Free VPNs will collect info information about you. They will log your internet activity and could sell it to advertisers. But paid VPNs are more secure. These generally will not log your internet activity and they will keep it private.
In summary, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) provides a solution to boost security and protect privacy. By encrypting data and hiding IP addresses VPNs ensure that sensitive information remains safe, from hackers, internet service providers (ISPs), and government surveillance. Moreover, VPNs allow access to content that may be blocked based on location and improve browsing speed by optimizing routing. Given the growing significance of privacy, a VPN becomes a tool, for maintaining a secure and unrestricted online presence.