You may have heard a lot about the term “VPN” over the past few years. But what is it exactly?
Although it’s computer centric, a VPN isn’t just for tech gurus. It is a “virtual private network” and a tool that many have adopted to keep them safe online. While modern firewalls and antivirus programs are pretty safe, few digital defense tools match the amazing defense of a VPN.
How a VPN works
What is VPN about? First and foremost, it’s about privacy – but the type of privacy that protects computer users from viruses, data theft, targeted advertising, and so on. While a VPN can “block” these threats much like firewalls and antivirus programs, its main functions are much more effective.
The internet isn’t always secure: hackers, snoopers, and even governments can access your digital identity if it’s unprotected. In some cases, they can also take advantage of it. VPNs protect users by completely avoiding data discovery. They circle online trackers, which is useful, but they can also dodge complex data monitors – which is incredible.
Let’s cover the basics.
It is a subscription based service
A VPN can seem intimidating at first. After all, it’s something that was designed to “hide” people online. But don’t worry: using a VPN isn’t illegal. It’s about as popular as antivirus software. Dodging privacy is considered a good habit these days – and that’s what a VPN does best.
A VPN is a program that is accessed through a subscription. It’s also incredibly affordable and only costs two dollars a month. VPN companies are typically leaders in the cybersecurity industry and are constantly working to improve the digital defense tools they provide.
If you are familiar with web hosting, then you are already familiar with subscription-based services.
It works in the background
Much like antivirus software, VPNs work quietly in the background of your PC’s daily processes. You can start your VPN software manually, but you prefer the automated features: it has a useful auto-start setting that protects your computer from turning on.
It gives you a temporary IP address
The innovation of a VPN is in the form of remote servers. Your provider has many of them – and they are in many countries. When you access the internet, your VPN will redirect your IP address through one of these servers. In return, you will receive a temporary IP address. This means that you are practically “invisible” while surfing and that you completely avoid data snoops.
It bypasses the censorship
Since VPN servers are everywhere, you can choose a server in any country. Many countries block certain news websites – and even popular multimedia websites. For example, if you visit an area that is blocking online access to Netflix, you can just use a temporary IP address from your home country. The same approach applies to news websites – and even banking websites that restrict international access for security reasons.
It encrypts your data
While replacing an IP address is a great security solution, VPNs go one step further: they encrypt your device’s data and make it impossible to decrypt. However, keep in mind that your data will likely not show up at all. But if so, whoever is spying, they won’t be able to determine. This encryption extends over the website’s login information, histories, cookies and more.
It’s easy to use
Because VPNs have become so popular, cybersecurity experts have made them incredibly easy to use. Many VPNs practically run by themselves and are specially designed to be easy to use. Even if you’re not particularly tech-savvy, you can set up your VPN with just a few clicks. Since a VPN is also a subscription service, you can also contact your provider for assistance.
It’s great for public networks
While restaurants, shops, and libraries make internet security a priority, those who use their network are not always safe. Public Wi-Fi networks are easy to use and are a common hunting ground for cyber thieves looking for personal information. Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about these networks when using a VPN: even if your laptop automatically connects to the internet, your VPN will protect it every time.
It’s also for smartphones
VPNs have come a long way – and they were introduced to mobile users too. Most VPN subscriptions offer app-based versions of their software, and these applications offer the same protection as their desktop versions. This can further increase your digital security on public networks and protect your smartphone for web surfing, social media posting, chatting and more.
Online Security and Today’s Technical Tools
You have a hard time finding a digital defense tool that is more effective than a VPN. Undoubtedly, virus protection programs and firewalls are themselves the highest security tools – but a VPN is indeed suitable for the same security goal and is at the same time more flexible. If you’ve considered getting your own VPN, the time has never been better: while cybersecurity technology is constantly evolving, the VPN is leading the way.