What Is a VPN Connection?

The abbreviation VPN stands for a virtual private network.

Just as what the name implies, this is how internet users can access the internet with their private data, their online activities and their location being kept secret and secure.

The method of doing so can vary regarding the specific service and whether the device is mobile or fixed, such as a PC.

The Ever-Increasing Use of the Internet

The massive expansion in internet use over the past 20 years or so, has meant that billions of people around the globe can connect online.

There is a multitude of reasons for doing so such as social media, email, watching movies, making purchases, education, banking, and employment.

These are just a fraction of the hundreds of other reasons why anyone would want access to the internet which explains why the types of websites and services continue to grow every day.

Not only have the motives for going online expanded massively, so have the means by which people connect to the internet.

Long gone are the days where you could only get online via a PC in your home or office. With today's technology, you can connect to the internet via your TV, laptops, tablets, smartphones, and even watches.

someone buying online on smartphone

More Surfing Equals More Risks

As the use of the internet increases exponentially, unfortunately, the risks of doing so have also increased about privacy and security.

Thankfully there are ways to avoid criminals and unscrupulous hackers gaining access to your devices thanks to the use of firewalls, anti-virus software, and password encryption.

However, what if you want to hide your activities not only from the undesirable elements that inhabit the internet but from others too?

These 'others' are not hackers or cybercriminals but are mostly legitimate organizations and companies.

They can include social media sites, advertisers and your internet service provider.  These organizations have ways and means of tracking your online activities.

And although their motives will, for the most part, be nothing sinister, the very fact that they can obtain and then store this data might be something that concerns you.

Using a VPN to Connect to the Internet

The method by which you can keep your online activities and even your location private is to connect to the internet via a VPN.

There are many free options available. However, for maximum security and the best service, it is advisable that you choose a paid service with a good reputation and plenty of positive reviews from satisfied customers.

Your VPN setup will vary depending on the sort of device you are using it on. For most PCs and laptops, it will be a downloadable software which you install and any time you access the internet you do so via the VPN. On mobile devices,

VPNs will typically be in the form of an app which you purchase from Google Play for Android devices or Apple Store for iOS devices.

Despite all these differences, they all provide similar essential services, with the main differences being the level of security that they offer.

rusty padlock

What Security Does a VPN Connection Give You?

Their primary function will be to connect you to the internet anonymously so that not even your ISP can track your online activities. This is achieved by masking your IP address meaning you cannot be identified.

Your IP address is a bit like your home address, but it instead of identifying your front door, it applies to your computer connection.

IP addresses also identify which country you are in, which for many websites and services is essential.

Going Abroad

Now that you have connected to the internet securely and cannot be identified, you are now free to visit any website or service you wish.

As you do so, your identity will be protected, and your surfing history will be private. Should you wish to view content in another country, the better VPN services have an option where you can select an IP address from that country.

This means you can gain access to any geo-specific content, even though you are not physically there.

people using smartphone at an airport

Be Safe in Public Hotspots

If you ever connect to the internet using public Wi-Fi hotspots, you should be aware that they tend to be very vulnerable to hackers wishing to gain access to your private data.

Here again, a VPN can protect you from any of that happening so that you can go online using any public Wi-Fi and know you are safe.

High-Level Encryption

The reason all of this is possible is due to the encryption capabilities of the VPN.

The best VPNs use high-level protocols to secure data which are based on 256-bit encryption.

This is at a similar level to what banks and other financial institutions use to connect online, by encrypting data with numerals that are close to impossible to decipher.

Summary

Using VPNs to connect to the internet is a cheap and effective way to ensure that prying eyes can't spy on you.

They can't gain access to your private data, can't track your online activity, nor can they identify which location you are connecting from.

In a nutshell, you're free to use the internet as you're supposed to.

Jonathan

Jonathan has a masters degree in Computer Engineering, loves programming and creating web services that help people perform various tedious tasks.

In his free time, he writes informative articles about networking and routers for RouterReset.com

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