A VPN can help keep you more private and secure against prying eyes. A VPN is critical when accessing the Internet over a connection you don’t trust, for example a public Wi-Fi hotspot at a coffee shop but it is necessary for everyone.
As the infamous saying goes, the Internet is a series of tubes. Now, that is not (even close to) accurate but it can be a good abstraction. Think of a tube between you and a service you want to use. For example, it could be something that tells you when a flight lands. So imagine you writing on a postcard what flight you want to know about and whisking it down a particular tube to the service. The service then sends you a postcard on when the flight lands. All is well. Or is it?
If the web service you use properly implements transport layer security (TLS) so that your communication happens over HTTPS (the S stands for secure), someone in the middle cannot easily find out what your request is (the flight number) or the response (the time). However, your Internet service provider (ISP) or anyone with access to your ISP’s infrastructure easily knows all the web services you use and when. This is known as metadata and can be very valuable. Based on this information, someone can build a reasonable profile of who you are, what you do, and even at what times you are at home and/or asleep.
Remember all of this happens without ever looking at the contents of your hypothetical post card. Many web services still do not offer HTTPS and many more do not default to it. This means the contents of the hypothetical post-card you send to a web service is available in plain-view not just for your service provider but to anyone who has access to the tube you send it through.
This is where a VPN steps in. A VPN provides a secure tunnel between you and the VPN provider. This means that nobody between you and the VPN can tell what web services you use. This is where it is important to recognize that not all VPNs are equal. More on this later.
Another point is that as far as the web service you use is concerned, you are using the computer at the location of the VPN provider, not your own physical location. This means if you are in New York and the VPN provider is in Amsterdam, the web service you consume will see your location as being in Amsterdam. This has the wonderful side-effect of letting you bypass geographical restrictions on certain services like music streaming and so on.
We have a lot of resources coming up about using VPN. Being secure online isn’t very difficult but you do have to take the first step towards it. If you do so today, you can click this link to get a 15% discount on your subscription fee. Get started today and until next time, stay safe online.Share on Twitter