What Does a VPN Hide?Posted Dec. 18, 2018, 2:41 p.m. by Jonathan
VPNs have been around for some time and were first developed to allow businesses the ability to connect securely via the corporation's network.
Today, the term VPN is more commonly used to describe the ever-increasing number of services which are geared towards individuals browsing the internet.
These offer users a different range of protections compared to a corporate network.
And in this article, we will look at what these protections are, and what a VPN can hide.
ISPs and Your IP Address
Whenever you connect to the internet and start browsing it is made possible using the services of an internet service provider or ISP.
These are the services which you pay your monthly broadband fee to.
Your ISP’s servers enable access to the internet, and part of that process is the allocation of an IP address.
An IP address is a string of numbers which identifies your computer and its location to the entire internet.
This IP address is linked in several ways to all the internet activity which you undertake. Whether you are sending an email, chatting on social media, or watching a video on YouTube, your IP address will be linked to those actions.
Privacy and Security
This might seem nothing to be concerned about, but there are several scenarios where you might want to:
- hide your IP address,
- keep your internet browsing private,
- and prevent others from tracking your activities.
Achieving this privacy and security is done via the use of a Virtual Private Network, or VPN, and paying either a flat or monthly fee.
Using a VPN means that when you connect to the internet, it is done via an encrypted connection. As a result, all the data which is now traveling from your computer through the VPN server is protected and hidden from others.
To give you a fuller understanding of why a VPN might be beneficial to you, here are some of the uses of a VPN and what it can hide.
Your Real IP Address Is Hidden
There are several reasons why you might want to mask your IP address.
Privacy is an obvious one, but there are others. One of the most common reasons people want to hide their IP address is the issue of country-specific content.
This occurs when the provider of content such as movies, videos, audio or written text, only want it seen in either their own country just or a specific state of their choosing.
If you do not live in that country, your IP address will reveal this, and you would not usually be able to access the content.
Using a VPN, you can choose which country you appear to be connecting to the internet from, and as a result, can access the content.
Your Internet Activity Is Hidden from Your ISP
Many people do not realize that every website or page they visit is tracked and monitored by their ISP.
And in some cases, even their login info is recorded. In most cases, this is done with no malicious intent, but there have been instances of personal data being sold.
To keep your ISPs prying eyes off your internet activity, using a VPN will prevent them from seeing the websites you are visiting and the activities which you undertake on all of them.
Advertisers Cannot See Your Preferences
Have you ever visited a website in the morning, and the evening when you log in to Facebook, an advert appears on the page for that previous website?
This is just one of the thousands of ways in which your internet activity has been monitored and used for commercial purposes.
Nothing about it is illegal, but it can be annoying, if not somewhat creepy that you are literally being followed around the internet.
If you do not want to be targeted by these adverts, then a VPN can cover your tracks so that as you visit websites and undertake any activity online, none of it can be identified as you.
Without this tracking data which would normally be linked to your IP address, advertisers are unable to target you in the same way.
Public Wi-Fi Hotspots Are Safe
A fear many internet users have when logged into an unsecured public Wi-Fi network is that their data can be accessed by hackers.
Hackers do take advantage of these networks but with a VPN you are totally safe.
The connection you have between your device and the VPN server is encrypted, so even if you do inadvertently connect to a rogue hotspot, the hackers will not be able to decipher your data.
One Last Thing
One final point about your privacy is that while a VPN prevents your ISP from seeing your internet activity, the VPN provider can see it.
Convinced about the advantages of VPNs but not sure which one to get? We have compiled the best VPNs of the year here!Related: Privacy Security Virtual Private Network (VPN)