Virtual private networks or VPNs have been around for a while. However, it is surprising how many people don’t understand what they actually are. Sometimes, for many older internet users, the name is just another abstract acronym that they don’t understand. Even many newer internet users don’t know of it more than a convenient piece of software to access geo-restricted data. However, there is much more to VPN applications than you know.
How VPNs Protect You
Using the internet without a VPN essentially leaves your device connection exposed. This allows entities like your internet service provider or ISP to see what content you access. However, ISPs aren’t the only ones tracking your internet activities. Websites you have interacted with install cookies on your device. This allows them to offer a better experience the next time you visit, but it also allows them to view what you do on the internet. And these are just privacy concerns from legitimate parties. Imagine internet security threats from a hacker on the same coffee shop hotspot as you!
Without a VPN, your internet connection is naked. This blog explores:
- VPN Encryption
- Virtual IP Address
- Difference Between Proxies and VPNs
- How to Pick the Best VPN
Read on to find out more.
Encryption is one way that VPNs make your connection more secure and invisible to everyone except you and the VPN. A VPN creates a virtual encrypted tunnel between your device and the internet. While you’re in this tunnel, it is virtually impossible for your ISP or other parties to track you. Encryption also means that your internet activities will look like gibberish to anyone to tries to eavesdrop on you. Your device sends a request to the VPN, which in turn sends it to the server where the content you requested is located. The server then responds to the VPN, which then responds to you. All in the safety of a virtual encrypted tunnel.
Virtual IP Address
The second way a VPN can protect you is by granting you a new IP address. But why do IP addresses matter? For one thing, it safeguards the unique identity of your device and internet connection. For another, it removes geo-restrictions on content, letting you access more parts of the internet. Many servers have instructions not to send content to IP addresses in specific locations. A VPN prevents these servers from seeing that your actual IP address is restricted.
Difference Between Proxies and VPNs
Proxies and VPNs can seem very similar to many internet users. But there is one key difference between the two. Proxies mask all internet traffic from your web browser. In contrast, VPNs protect all your internet activities, from torrents to online games. If you want a completely secure, untraceable internet experience, then a virtual private network would be the better choice.
How to Pick the Best VPN
By now, you probably have a better idea of what a VPN is and how it works. If you feel you’re ready to try a VPN yourself, you should focus on 3 main concerns. The first is whether you can use the VPN on all of your devices. A good VPN service works no matter what you use it on, and can work on multiple devices simultaneously. That means it should work equally well when you’re on your smartphone, tablet, or computer, often at the same time.
The second bit to focus on is what VPN protocols the service offers. These determine how fast data passes between the VPN server and your device. OpenVPN is one of the most secure protocols but does not always work on all devices. PPTP is a very fast VPN protocol but is also one of the least secure. Choose a service that has multiple protocols and allows you to choose between them.
The final point to focus on is whether the VPN has servers in the locations you need. For example, if you’re using Netflix, and want to access content in Brazil, your VPN should have a server located in Brazil for that to happen. Many VPN services have servers in over 100 countries, so you should have plenty of options to choose from. Certain internet providers like Spectrum internet prices also offer robust security suites with their subscriptions. You can use these to further enhance the security of your internet connection and stay safe from malware etc. Safety first on the internet, just like everywhere else.