The popularity of VPNs is growing rapidly, mainly because people are more privacy-minded than ever before. Internet users use VPNs to protect important personal and business-related information from unwanted snoops. Furthermore, VPNs enable many users in countries to view content which was previously unavailable for them. In this article, I’ll talk about the hype around VPNs, what a VPN exactly is, how it works and why you should be using one as well.
What Is a VPN?A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a software tool you can use in order to connect through a secure, private and protected network connection to the internet using a computer or smartphone. The VPN server hides any online activity of connected users.
How Does it Work?The VPN client software can be installed on your desktop, laptop or mobile device and works as follows. VPNs route all your online traffic from the connected device through one of the servers of the VPN. The VPN is designed to hide your real IP address, which means that you can access online content and other services that were previously unavailable from your actual location – if content is IP-restricted. The software of the VPN encrypts all of your traffic, even before you connect to another Wi-Fi connection such as your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or open network in the library or coffee shop. Thus, the data that is being transmitted from your device travels to the server of the VPN first. Then, the VPN will connect you to your online destination – you initial browsing intention. As a result, the web destination won’t be able to identify you or your location because your data is coming from the server of the VPN and the location of that server – your true location is now hidden! VPNs are popular because the software addresses a couple of privacy and security issues for internet users, such as:
- The destination URL collects traffic and data from the VPN server as the original source of input, instead of you.
- Since your true IP is hidden, your ISP for example, won’t be able to identify, collect or monitor your internet activity, because – again – the source of data is coming from the VPN server. So, websites you visit, your downloads, etc, are all hidden from prying eyes.
- Your internet traffic is fully encrypted, which means that even in case someone would be able to intercept your data, it’s in encrypted (unreadable) format and not in plaintext (readable data).