VPN is extensively known as a way to change one’s location without actually moving. You’re given a new IP, and your data goes through a server in a whole other country, granting you access to content that you wouldn’t otherwise reach. This, however, wouldn’t be half as impactful without the other major function.
That function includes different data protection features. They essentially make signals coming from your device impossible to track and very hard to hack. It’s also done by filtering your requests through a separate device, while also adding a layer of encryption to it.
With VPN, you can easily learn how to bypass school WiFi, use public connections or visit shady websites. Below you can find a rough breakdown of how this action is achieved.
First, it would be prudent to explain how VPN even works, given how these algorithms will be referenced often.
So, to catch up, VPN stands for ‘virtual private network’, which is essentially your personal channel between your device and the destination of its signals (be that a videogame, a website, or an app). The channel is maintained by a dedicated server in a far-away location.
The signals you send go through that device and then to wherever you as a user currently are. Without VPN, there wouldn’t be a middleman in the form of a VPN. This middleman, however, acts as a shield. For all intents and purposes, the VPN server is the one doing your activities on a website, not you. You simply send signals they act upon.
But what does it do and mean?
First and foremost, there is anonymity.
Except for the VPN provider, no one will really no know anything about you. Hardware data and geographic details are obviously supplanted, but they also turn much of your personal information into gibberish. They can’t know who you are, where you are and even what your email is, often enough.
Even if someone wises up and comes looking for a real person behind the VPN shield, providers rarely keep tabs on their users’ sessional activities for long (if at all), which means you won’t be exposed even if the law comes knocking. There are ways to expose VPN users for who they really are, but they are still scarce and unreliable.
In this context, privacy means that you won’t have to share any details about yourself or your device.
This includes, for instance, cookies, which could be useful if you want to visit some websites on a regular basis. More often than not, however, they simply learn everything there is to learn about you – including your preferences, your email, and a lot more. This info can then be sold to whoever wishes to buy it (and there are plenty of people who do).
Adequate VPN products often include whitelists – catalogs of websites, whose cookies you want to be permitted. Many big websites like Facebook or YouTube can be included prematurely, and you can omit them at will. This will ensure no data hunter gets a wind of what you like and tries to send a spam letter to you according to this information.
Protection from Hacking
One of the selling points of VPNs is that they can be used to access public WiFi networks, which are notoriously unsafe. Connecting to a public network means someone else in that exact network can get your personal details and even hack into your device, and who knows what happens then?
Reliable (that is, steady and strong) VPN connections make it nigh impossible for hackers to get into your device or get any sort of information about you and your gadget. That happens, once more, because everything that, before your signals reach their destination (a WiFi router), they are turned into gibberish by a VPN server.
This encryption also makes sure they can’t get into your device because everything they need to access it is also turned into utter nonsense.
Some Malware Protection
Although not nearly as effective as dedicated malware detectors, you can still count on VPN software to catch some types of malware for you. Some viruses simply don’t care about connections and get downloaded regardless, but many will be tricked by this additional layer of secrecy.
It is somewhat important if you want to use it as your ‘additional shield’ for malware that your antivirus might not catch, but that’s unlikely to happen. It’s more useful for occasions when you need to disable your antivirus (for instance, to access some website or download some file). In these cases, VPN will provide some limited protection.
However, don’t ever think that VPN can replace a dedicated antivirus. They are simply incomparable.