If you spend a lot of time on the Internet, you may run into people emphasizing using VPNs and how useful they are. But what even is a VPN? And why they are being praised by privacy advocates?
As it turns out, VPN is simple to understand, simple to use, and simple to obtain—an all-around simple product. Yet many treat VPNs like some sort of mystery—a complex technology that only a tech-savvy can handle. On the contrary, VPNs are easy to use and here’s how:
How Does a VPN Work?
A VPN, short for “Virtual Private Network,” is a… well, a virtual network. When you are surfing the Internet, your data traffic is run through different servers, one of them is your Internet Service Provider’s (ISP).
For most people, this may not be an issue. But if you happen to be working on sensitive information or care deeply about your privacy, the last thing you want is for someone to snoop on and steal your data. This has happened, and will no doubt will keep happening.
A VPN bars this from happening by routing your data through the VPN company’s servers and encrypting the data as it flows to and from your device. VPNs can use a variety of encryption protocols, and the type it uses is up to the VPN company. However, if the VPN company saves your internet logs and shares them with authorities you may want to get rid of it.
What Should You Use a VPN For?
You should be using a VPN whenever you’re on a network that:
a.) You don’t trust.
b.) Is public wifi-spot
For example, at a coffee shop.
Although, some prefer to keep their VPN on at all times, it may affect the overall speed of your Internet connection, depending on your VPN server you can get a good deal with a trustworthy company.
Nevertheless, keeping your VPN on at all times is highly recommended especially when connected to a public wifi spot or bypassing online censorship enforced by the government of the country you are residing or visiting.
Choosing a VPN
Always check user reviews before buying anything online and the same goes for VPN. Remember, if you decide to use a free VPN, there’s no guarantee it will protect your privacy. In fact, many free VPNs have been subjects of controversy for stealing users’ data and selling it advertisers.
According to researchers, almost every major free VPN service is a glorified data farm. Therefore, choose wisely and stay safe online!