What is a VPN?
What is a VPN?According to Wikipedia, a Virtual Private Network, or VPN is a set of technologies which are used to link computers to create a private network. Another network is used to carry the data, which is encrypted. The carrier network will see the packets of data which it routes. To the users of the VPN, it will look like the computers were directly connected to each other. The main purpose of this technology is to help you stay secure and private when browsing the Internet.
In fact, most Internet traffic is unencrypted and very public. When a user creates an Internet connection, such as visiting a website in a browser, the user's device will connect to their Internet Service Provider (ISP), and then the ISP will connect to the Internet to find the appropriate web server to communicate with to fetch the requested website. As your Internet traffic passes through your ISPs, they can see everything you do online. What's more, they can track users' behavior and sell their personal details to advertisers and other third parties.
Here's when a VPN comes into play. It redirects your Internet traffic through a remote VPN server, this way hiding your IP address and encrypting all of the information that is sent or received. With a VPN on, all the data you send and receive travels via an encrypted tunnel so that nobody can steal your private information or spy on your online activities.
Therefore, if you connect to the VPN server since all the data is encrypted, the ISP cannot see the user's activity. The VPN server's communications with the Internet are unencrypted, but the web servers will only log the IP address of the VPN server, which gives them no information about the user.
Using a VPN is by far the most reliable way to protect your privacy and secure your online activities. A VPN hides your IP address and encrypts all the traffic you send and receive, meaning that:
- Snoopers trying to spy on you will only be able to trace it back to the VPN server;
- Even if someone manages to intercept your data, they cannot decipher it.
At this point, you would want to ask why you should have to use the VPN. Well, it is true that there's no privacy online as we are watched and tracked everywhere we go on the Internet. What websites we visit, what pop-ups we click on, what clothes we buy and what we search for – all this information is collected by our ISPs, advertisers, governments and other third parties.
Unfortunately, no magic tool can make you completely anonymous when browsing the web, but getting a VPN is the best you can do to stay private and safe in the digital world. On top of that, VPNs have a couple of additional benefits and are also used for streaming, P2P or bypassing censorship. Usually, Internet users turn to VPN services for these main reasons: General privacy and security, protect themselves from cybercrime, safely access websites and services, shield themselves from DDoS attacks, bypass ISP throttling and many more. (Especially in China or Iran, to access blocked websites like Facebook, Twitter, Google, YouTube, etc.)
In a nutshell, if you enable the VPN connection:
- Your ISP can't see what you do on the Internet
- Your device is assigned an IP address of the remote VPN server
- Your Internet traffic is encrypted
- Your ISP doesn't know what you are up to online, but your VPN provider does.
Although more and more Internet users join the VPN trend, many people still think that using a VPN service is some kind of rocket science. While it’s true that some digital security tools can be a little confusing and “geeky,” many decent VPN service providers design their apps to be intuitive and easy-to-use.
When you come to choose a VPN service, you want to look for a VPN service that is reliable, secure and easy-to-use, but you should always remember this - following details below are extremely important to take into consideration:
- Whether or not the chosen VPN provider keeps logs of your activities;
- What external support or tracking tools it employs;
- Which country the service based in and what requirements it has for collecting users’ data;
- How much the service costs and what payment options it offers;
- Whether the VPN service offers extra security tools, such as DNS leak protection, Kill Switch or Double VPN.
Before I end this article, I would like to recommend you some VPN services if you need one below:
- NordVPN: NordVPN allows you to protect your privacy online and access media content with no regional restrictions, including strong encryption and no-log policy with 5000+ servers in 60+ countries. 30-day money-back guarantee. (Click here if you are unable to access or you are in the country where VPN services are blocked.)
- More VPN services suggestions coming soon... (Some of them are removed from this list due to the lack of encryption level during the VPN connection.)