The VPN crash course: What are they, and how do they work?

You may have heard that using a virtual private network (VPN) is much safer than browsing unprotected on public networks, and it is. But, do you understand what exactly VPNs are, and why people choose to use them?

Before we get into what makes VPNs the safer option for consumers, let’s talk about what they are and how they work.

What is a VPN?

A VPN uses the public internet connection available to create a private network. Only you have access to the VPN, and your activity on the internet is protected by the anonymity of your VPN. It’s essentially a buffer between you and the public network, and it hides all of your personal information.

This is possible because the VPN connects to an already existing network. You may be thinking if the VPN is connected to a public network, someone might be able to access your private information with a little bit of technical expertise. However, VPNs mask your internet protocol (IP) address, making everything you do through the VPN difficult to trace. Plus, even if someone were able to access your information, VPNs encrypt everything, making it illegible.

Why do consumers use VPNs?

The most common use of a VPN is for safe public browsing. If you’re reading emails, shopping online or conducting business using public Wi-Fi, anyone using the same network as you can access your information. However, a VPN uses the available public network to secure an internet connection while masking what you do under a more private network available only to you.

VPNs protect your data while you browse, so you can rest assured that you are safe from hackers and thieves.

Some people also use VPNs in their own homes. While a private home network is fairly safe, a VPN adds layers of security by encrypting data and hiding your IP address. With hackers getting more and more skilled at infiltrating private networks to steal information, adding security measures is never a bad idea.

Some workplaces even require that their employees use VPNs while working remotely to protect sensitive company data. This isn’t surprising, considering that nearly 43% of small businesses have been targets of cyberattacks, according to a recent Verizon report.

What are the capabilities?

We’ve gone over how VPNs can protect you both in public and in the privacy of your own home. Let’s go over what they are capable of, and how they are typically different from public networks.

A VPN will allow you to do anything online that you can do on a less secure network. However, since protecting your privacy is a main priority, it may require that you take extra precautions or steps before accessing a certain website.

For example, when logging into a private account, like your bank account, social media profiles or work email, you may be required to authenticate a new session. Some people may be accustomed to staying logged into the accounts they use the most often for speedy access, but that typically won’t fly on a VPN. It may seem like an inconvenience, but it protects your privacy.

Additionally, VPNs run on a separate internet connection, so they cannot run any faster than the public network to which it’s connected. This results in it sometimes running a little bit slower.

VPNs often come with an added cost, but they could save you money in the long run by protecting your information from hackers and thieves. Before choosing a VPN service, do your research to find the one that’s best for you.

Contact Total Defense today for more information on VPNs and secure internet browsing.