Beginner's guide to Virtual Private Network services
Freedom is what’s supposed to make the internet different from other media platforms–but, considering some data scandals, one can assume it’s not so free. Someone is always watching what you do online, but you can stop it by using a Virtual Private Network service or VPN for short. In this article, you’ll find out what does VPN service do and how it makes your online life easier. You’ll also learn what happens to your personal data if you don’t use a VPN.
What happens if you don’t use a Virtual Private Network
Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a tool that helps you keep your online data to yourself. You may be thinking: “My data? Doesn’t it belong to me?” And you’re right - it should belong to you. However, be aware that someone’s always interested in getting their hands on it. To reach a website, you usually connect to your ISP (Internet Service Provider) without thinking twice. Your ISP can see that you’re visiting this site–this information is stored in their servers. Even if you don’t have anything to hide, being watched continuously over doesn’t sound so appealing. What’s worse, your ISP can sell your data to data mining companies or marketing agencies. Ever see too many personalized ads? Yes, it might be because your data has been handed over to a third-party.
At the same time, your IP address is exposed to the websites and services you use. You may already know that your IP reveals your physical location. Due to geographical restrictions, you might have trouble entering some websites. There’s even a chance you’re paying more just because you’re in one country and not the other. Online shops or flight companies might adjust prices according to your country and increase them as they like.
VPN technology and usage defined
Once you switch the virtual personal network connection on, your data becomes encrypted. Your ISP, the government and other nosy third parties can no longer look at your actions online. Your internet provider knows you’re using a VPN, but they won’t be able to see the websites you browse or the files you download. And, websites can’t see it’s you browsing–all they can track is that someone has a virtual private network connection on.
Meanwhile, your IP address is no longer exposed. Virtual Private Network services help you conceal it and change your IP to an address of a VPN. Say you’re physically in Chicago and you connected to a server in Australia. In the online world, it will now look like you’re actually connecting from Australia.
Best of all, your online data is no longer vulnerable to various kinds of cyberattacks. There can always be a criminal, waiting for you to connect to a public network without using a VPN. Why’s that dangerous? Browsing a public network in a hotel or a coffee shop includes various risks, like getting your credit card details stolen. But, if you enable a VPN, your information becomes encrypted, unreadable to anyone who tries to steal it.
VPN setup process
Now that you’ve learned the VPN basics, it’s time to set up a connection. First things first, download the software. You can install the VPN app by heading to their website or via App Store/Play Store. Next, sign up or log in to your account. If it’s a paid service, you’ll have to pick a plan on their website and proceed with your purchase. Once you’re logged in successfully, connect to a VPN server. Most VPN applications have a function that picks the best server for you within one click. But, if you prefer to connect to a specific region, you should be able to do it via the full VPN server list.
That’s it! As soon as you switch your virtual provider network on, you can start your browsing activities as you would usually do. Just to be sure your VPN is working properly, check if your data isn’t leaking. If you see addresses of a VPN server instead of yours, you’re good to go.
Common Virtual Private Network use-cases
You’ve already learned what does VPN service mean. If you’re still wondering whether it can be useful to you everyday, these are the most common cases people use a VPN.
Cybersecurity Researcher and Publisher at Atlas VPN. Interested in cybercrime, online security, and privacy-related topics.