VPN: How To Use It and Why You Should

You’ve probably heard all about VPNs. Do you know what they mean? It stands for “virtual private network.” While that may seem like some high-tech thing the average person would never need, that is not the case.

Anyone concerned about their online security should be using a VPN. If you frequently use public Wi-Fi, you could be exposing yourself to privacy breaches. It’s also beneficial for travelers and other remote workers.

Let’s take a look at the reasons non-techies use VPNs.

What Is a VPN?

A VPN is an acronym meaning “virtual private network.” It prevents anyone from being able to view your transmitted data. It also hides your IP address. It makes using the internet safer, even when using unsecured connections like public Wi-Fi. 

How a VPN Works

To understand how a VPN works, you need to know how data travels. When you access a website, that website sends information to your Internet Service Provider. The website sends back information, and it pops up on your screen.

While the data exchange is happening, your data is not encrypted. People with bad motives can view your personal data. They can also see your IP address. That’s like a virtual postcode. If a person gets your IP address, they can tell who you are and where you are in the world.

A VPN creates a secure encrypted data tunnel. Before your device sends the data, the VPN first encrypts it. It then sends the encrypted data through a secure tunnel. This means no one can see the data, and even if they could, it’s encrypted. This data goes to the VPN server, where they send only anonymized data with the VPN IP address.

This way, no one can see your data. They cannot see what you send. They can’t even see that you sent it. This all might seem like a complex process, but the VPN does all the hard work for you. It makes all internet activities a lot safer.

Do I Need a VPN?

Yes! VPNs are affordable, easy to use, and can save you a lot of headaches. Let’s take a look at what a VPN can let you do.

Use Public Wi-Fi Safely

Public Wi-Fi is super convenient. Unfortunately, that convenience often comes at the cost of security. Anyone who uses public Wi-Fi without a VPN leaves themselves vulnerable. 

When you use public Wi-Fi, it’s easy for hackers to look at your data. Even if you’re just using your phone for Instagram, a hacker can look at other sensitive data that goes through your phone. 

Privacy, Privacy, Privacy!

VPNs offer you a lot more privacy in your internet experience. But who exactly is viewing your data? In addition to hackers, here’s who else could be looking at your data:

  • Your Internet Service Provider

That’s right; even your at-home Wi-Fi isn’t entirely private. Companies that provide internet collect data from their users all the time. They can see everything about your browsing behavior.

This data usually gets sold to advertisers. Even if that doesn’t give you the creeps, it can also cause unnecessary stress if one of these advertisers has a data breach.

  • Apps Installed on Your Device

Social media apps are notorious data harvesters! If you have any apps by Meta, you know their business model. You get a free platform because they harvest all your data. 

  • Governments

Do you remember Edward Snowden? In 2013 he leaked much evidence that proved Verizon was selling private data to the NSA. Do you really think the surveillance situation has gotten any better? Best to protect your data.

Skirt Online Censorship

When you travel, certain countries ban popular websites. If you want to be able to access your social media in a highly restrictive country like China, you will need a VPN.

How Do I Use a VPN?

Setting up your VPN is actually super easy. Here’s how:

1. Choose A VPN Service

Most VPN providers offer subscription services. The longer the time you sign up, the better deal you get. Most of them have easy-to-use applications for laptops and mobile devices. 

2. Select your VPN Server

Once you log into the VPN’s app, it’ll show you a big “connect” button. This will connect you to the nearest VPN server. Select a different server if you want to generate an IP from a different location.

3. Set Up Your Kill Switch

This is an optional added safety feature most VPNs offer. The Kill Switch feature will automatically stop your computer from sending information if the VPN drops out. If you want to activate this, look for it in the settings.

Don’t Forget Your VPN!

VPNs might seem like a techie thing, but they’re not. Most people can benefit from the added security of a VPN. It’s worth the peace of mind. 

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