A VPN or Virtual Private Network is an internet-based service that allows you to take a public internet connection and turn it into your private network. By doing so, the VPN masks your IP (internet protocol) address, making everything you do online less traceable.
A VPN does this in two ways: first, by encrypting your data, changing it from a readable format to an unreadable, encoded form so that it’s nearly impossible to read by anyone else.
Second, a VPN sends all your network activity through a secure chain on another server. (Think of it like going through a tunnel.) By doing this, your identity online is obscured, allowing you to surf the internet anonymously, safely, and, most of all, securely. (Even more securely than a secured Wi-Fi hotspot.)
In other words, a VPN is the most effective way to protect your online identity when you’re on the internet. It provides a way for you to prevent hackers, the government, and even your internet service provider from tracking what you do online.
Why Use a VPN Service?
Here’s the thing; when you surf the internet via an unsecured Wi-Fi network, your private data and browsing history are exposed. That means a hacker, the government, your boss, or your internet service provider can also look at everything you’ve been doing online and see sensitive, private data.
Now, consider this; almost all the Wi-Fi networks your use throughout your day is unsecured. The network you use to check your email while you sip your coffee at the local Starbucks. Unsecured. The network you use while you check your email at work. Unsecured. Everything you do on an unsecured Wi-Fi network at the bank, your doctor’s office, a restaurant, or anywhere else you log on is vulnerable to anyone who wants to look, track or hack you.
Pros of using a VPN
As we mentioned earlier, your data is readable by anyone with the means and desire on an unsecured Wi-Fi network. However, when you use a VPN, everything you do, see, and search online is instantly encrypted, shielding you from the prying eyes of any person or organization trying to see or steal your data. For more information on network security please contact us.
Did you know it’s legal for an ISP (internet service provider) to sell your personal data, like email, phone, address, etc.? It is, and they do, to thousands of organizations that want to advertise to you or data-mine your online activity for future use.
A VPN blocks your ISP from doing this. It creates a private channel just for you, allowing you to surf the internet anonymously. All your online activity appears as anonymous traffic that’s unconnected to your IP address, providing you with complete browsing privacy.
No More Geo-Blocking
Have you ever traveled to another country and found that your access to one of your paid online subscriptions is blocked? In some cases, the catalog of content they offer changes also so that some content isn’t available. (We’re looking at you, Netflix, and Hulu.)
With a VPN, that will no longer happen. That’s because a VPN allows you to log in to any server you choose, including one in the United States (even if, say, you’re in Ecuador). All your online traffic will then appear to come from that particular server and country. This essentially eliminates blocked or modified content, allowing you to see and watch anything you choose from anywhere in the world.
No More Bandwidth Throttling
One of the biggest problems many folks have with their ISP is when they limit (throttle) their internet speeds, which they can do for practically any reason they like and at any time. During peak hours, for example, when you’re streaming videos and, of course, when you reach your “data cap,” the amount of data they allow you to use every month.
When you have an ISP set up, though, your ISP doesn’t know it’s you who’s using the data, and therefore won’t throttle back your bandwidth. You’ll essentially have free reign to use as much data as you like without fear that your ISP will slow it down.
Cons of using a VPN
Slightly Slower Internet Speeds
When you use a VPN, all your data is routed through the VPN server, encrypting it and making it impossible to trace, hack, etc. The problem, however, is that this extra step can slow down your internet speed. Why? Because your data and surfing activity needs to be encrypted, which takes a few extra seconds.
Also, logging into a VPN can often cause a slight delay, especially if you’re in a different geographical region. So, for example, if you’re in Manta, Ecuador, but using a VPN located in Atlanta, GA, you will often see a slight lag in connection times. Truth be told, though, the slower speed and lag time are almost negligible.
Free or Low-Quality VPNs Can be Problematic
Free VPN services do everything a paid VPN service does, but with one or two caveats. First, they need to make a profit somewhere, so free VPNs will often sell your data to a 3rd party. Also, low-quality VPNs may not have the superior encryption capabilities of a paid service, which leaves you exposed to hackers and other cybercriminals.
Depending on your country, they may require a VPN to keep activity logs on all their customers. (Hello, Australia and France.) Also, some VPN service providers keep activity logs to sell your data to 3rd parties. However, the top VPN providers don’t keep activity logs and, even better, accept cryptocurrency. That way, they don’t even know who you are when you purchase their service. (Talk about secure and private!)
If privacy and security while you’re online is what you seek, a VPN is the best choice. A high-quality VPN service will protect your privacy and data and allow you to surf the internet 100% anonymously.
If you have more questions about using a VPN or would like to set up a VPN for your own use, please contact us.