What Is A VPN?

Michael Gargiulo - CEO, VPN.com

By: Michael Gargiulo, CEO at VPN.com

Updated: 4:05 PM ET Tue, June 29th 2021

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Anyone who uses the internet should have a clear understanding of what a virtual private network (VPN) is and how they can benefit from using one. VPNs help to protect your privacy online, preventing hackers from stealing your information. By masking your original IP address, a VPN reroutes your and encrypts your connection, creating a more secure internet experience. Today we will take a closer look at what a VPN is used for and why you should consider using one whenever you seek additional protection on the internet.

VPN Definition & History

The technology used for VPNs was developed in 1996 by a Microsoft employee. The Peer to Peer Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) helped to create a more secure and private internet connection. Today, VPNs are also used to hide IP addresses, bypass geo-restrictions for streaming and gaming content, and prevent cyber attacks.

How Does A VPN Work?

VPNs are virtual, which means they are software-based applications. To use a VPN you need to first create an account with a leading VPN provider. Your account will allow you to authenticate your VPN from multiple devices. Once you’re logged in, your online activities are encrypted, which helps to protect your emails and texts, as well as your credit card information and cryptocurrency key phrases.

A VPN is a tunnel between your original IP address and your online destination. Your IP address is re-routed to another location, allowing you to provide enhanced security, while simultaneously unlocking other additional benefits.

What Is A VPN Used For?

Unlock Streaming

Licensing agreements vary from country to country, which means that where you live can determine which streaming content you have access to. Virtual Private Networks allow you to change your location, which means you can also change the streaming content you’re able to watch.

Prevent Throttling

When their networks are busy, sometimes internet service provides (ISPs) will throttle their connection. Throttling is the act of speeding up or slowing down an internet connection. ISPs also throttle connections when a certain amount of bandwidth has been used. Because you’re able to hide your original IP address, VPNs can be useful to protect your connection from throttling.

Protection On Public WiFi

When you sign into a public wi-fi network without a VPN, you’re putting your private information at risk. Intercepting sensitive data over public wireless networks is a common technique used by hackers. As your device tries to connect to a wi-fi hotspot, hackers position themselves between you and the network. By doing this they can receive access to information that is sent while using the network. Your credit card information, social security number, and other sensitive information can be compromised in these situations.

Shopping Online

While using a VPN can provide enhanced security, it also offers potential savings when shopping online. Because you can use a virtual private network (VPN) to alternate between countries, it’s possible to take advantage of seasonal sales and other discounts. Winter jackets, for instance, might be on sale in a place where it’s summer. Fluctuation in pricing is done online partly because of supply and demand. However many companies also use a process known as dynamic pricing.

Dynamic pricing is a strategy used by companies online for numerous reasons, including trying to find out the maximum price they can get for a good or service. Cost can vary not only by country but also by zip code. When you change your location with a VPN you may also have access to better deals.

Combat Censorship

Although there are many parts of the world where freedom of speech is valued, there are others where citizens constantly face censorship and threats for speaking out about certain issues. In these countries, what is a VPN used for? VPN software is used to help to mask your location, allowing you to access and read the information that might be blocked in their home country. Censorship in social media and streaming can also be circumvented with a VPN.

It’s important to mindful that although a VPN can open up access to censored material, many authoritarian countries have blocked these networks, or banned VPNs altogether.

Gaming

Virtual Private Networks are also helpful tools to use when gaming. Gaming servers are prone to DDoS attacks, which may be used to reduce the connection speed between a computer to a gaming server. In gaming, time is incredibly important and any lag can cause gamers to lose money. Gamers who are competing are cautious of potential threats and therefore utilize a VPN to keep themselves protected.

Is Using A VPN Legal?

In many countries around the world, the use of a VPN is legal. However, it’s important to consider what you do while using a VPN, as your actions can still be considered illegal and prosecuted by the law. Some VPNs also hold user data for future use by legal authorities, which means that there may be a record of your online behavior. Furthermore, there are surveillance groups organized by countries to monitor online behavior. Certain VPN providers are located in Panama to avoid these organizations. If you’re concerned about governmental surveillance, then you should look into services that offer these protections.

How To Choose A VPN

When you’re choosing a VPN software consider the following:

  • Pricing: Many VPNs offer free trials to test their services. However, free VPNs, generally don’t provide adequate protection. There have been instances of free VPN providers selling user information to third parties. To ensure your online safety, use an affordable VPN provider which has servers located around the world.
  • Security Features: Consider if you need features like a kill switch (which instantly cuts your internet connection with the VPN connection is dropped). Also, make sure to check if the VPN you use
  • Ability to Connect to Multiple Devices; It’s estimated that 5 internet devices connect online in every multiple household. Make sure that the VPN software you use can connect to multiple devices. Most leading VPNs also have a VPN app for mobile, which allows you to control your connection directly from your phone or tablet.
  • Number of Servers: VPNs can also get overcrowded, which means that you’ll experience lag time and slower connection speeds. To ensure an optimized experience, try to use a VPN that has numerous servers located around the world. This way you don’t have to worry if one or two servers become too crowded.

There are many uses for a VPN and our company can help you to have an improved and secure online experience. Our goal is to help 1 billion people understand what is a VPN. By 2025, we believe they will all have a secure internet connection. For more information about what’s a VPN app and other modern VPN features, visit VPN.com.

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