What is a VPN and How Does it Work? 

You may have heard of the term VPN before, especially if you’ve logged into your employer’s email or intranet from a remote location. Many businesses deploy a VPN so their sensitive or confidential information stays secure when you access it. These days, many folks prefer to browse the internet in the same fashion, with as secure of a connection as possible. VPNs are becoming increasingly popular not just for business but personal use as well. 

What is a VPN and How Does it Work? 

VPN stands for virtual private network, allowing you to connect to a secure third-party’s server and network so your web browsing is secure. 

You connect your computer, tablet or phone to a VPN server. The server creates a secure connection and changes your IP address, making it appear as if you’re in a different location or country altogether. The data sent back and forth between your computer and the server is encrypted so you can browse the web anonymously and others can’t see the information exchange. 

Should I Use A VPN?

Most people who already have a secure internet network at home don’t need a VPN but it doesn’t hurt to add an extra layer of protection if you’re concerned about your privacy. Let’s explore some scenarios where using a VPN makes sense. 

When Using Public Wi-Fi

A VPN is one of the safest ways to use a public wi-fi network that isn’t your own like at a coffee shop, an airport, or in a hotel lobby. Public networks are not secure and they’re one of the easiest ways for hackers to infiltrate your mobile phone, tablet or computer. 

For example, if you use a coffee shop’s network to access your bank account, a hacker can access your private data and steal your identity. If you use a VPN, any potential data the hacker intercepts is unreadable. Keep in mind that a VPN is not 100% foolproof. There are some instances where a hacker can break through a VPN but it’s much harder to do. 

Prevent Activity Tracking 

Each of your mobile, tablet or computer devices have their own unique IP addresses. When you visit a website, it records your IP address, collects your data, and tracks your browsing habits, even down to where on each page you visit and how much time you spend on a certain section. Many marketers build demographic information based on your online behavior to better understand their target audience so they can serve relevant ads in all the places you spend time online. A VPN makes it harder not just for marketers, but even your own internet service provider, to access your data and follow your online activity. 

Access Streaming Services 

If you travel overseas frequently, a VPN not only helps keep your connection secure over public international networks but also helps you access streaming content. Streaming services don’t offer the same shows or services in every region so a VPN helps you stay on top of your favorite shows. 

For example, let’s say you have an ESPN subscription and don’t want to miss the Super Bowl but it’s not available in the country you’re visiting. If you log into the VPN server back in the U.S., accessing the game on your device shouldn’t be a problem. 

Be careful here. A VPN blocks geo-restricted barriers so you can watch content from anywhere, even if it’s not available in your country. You want to make sure you’re not breaking any laws or contractual terms with your streaming service provider. 

Not All VPNs Are Perfect

You can’t trust every VPN provider. There are many reputable VPN services on the market while others, especially free and low-cost ones, have questionable integrity and could misuse your data. 

The best won’t keep a log of your internet activity and will clearly state that on their website. Some others will keep a log of the readable data they encrypt. So, if Uncle Sam or the government comes knocking with questions about your online activity, they will have to hand that information over. 

A good VPN provider will maintain an enormous bank of servers across the globe. Each VPN service has its own unique selling points and specialties. Some are better for PCs while others are optimal for MACs and vice versa. Some of the best ranking VPN services include NordVPNSurfshark and ExpressVPN

VPN Support with 84° Design Studio 

A good VPN service can go a long way to protect your privacy in today’s hostile internet waters. Whether for business or home use, our expert technicians at 84° Design Studio can help you wrap your head around the do’s and don’ts of VPN services. Message us and we’ll help you determine the right options for you and offer support services that best meet your needs. Protecting your important business files and private data is important to us so you can browse online with peace of mind. 

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