How A VPN Works
A VPN works by routing your devices internet connection through your chosen VPNs private server rather than your internet service provider so that when your data is transmitted to the internet, it comes from the VPN rather than your computer. The VPN acts as an intermediary of sorts as you connect to the internet, thereby hiding your IP address the string of numbers your ISP assigns your device and protecting your identity. Furthermore, if your data is somehow intercepted, it will be unreadable until it reaches its final destination.
A VPN creates a private tunnel from your device to the internet and hides your vital data through something that is known as encryption.
Ip Leaks And Kill Switches
A kill switch is a feature that automatically kills your internet access if the encrypted, safe connection should ever drop. If theres any connectivity issue at all, the kill switch will trigger and block all activity until the secure connection returns.
If your VPN doesnt have a kill switch and a connectivity issue arises, its probable your device might attempt to restore the standard, unprotected connection, thus exposing what youve been doing up until that point.
According to our research, the following VPNs have a kill switch: NordVPN, Surfshark, ExpressVPN, PIA.
IP leaks are a known vulnerability with some setups people use to access the web. Its not entirely a VPN problem at its core.
IP leaks can happen when your VPN fails to hide your actual IP as youre browsing the web. For example, you want to access a geo-restricted show on Netflix, so you change the server to an approved country and reload the page. Then you realize that the content is still blocked. This means that your real IP might have just been leaked.
The best VPNs all have some clever scripts programmed into their apps to minimize this risk. As I mentioned, your IP leaking is not always the VPNs fault. Sometimes the configuration of your computer and the many apps within are to blame. Even the browser you use and the add-ons installed in it can cause IP leaks.
How Secure Is A VPN Really
Like with any online software or service, the security of a VPN will be reliant on a number of factors. In the case of VPNs, these factors include:
- The kind of technology the provider uses
- The laws of your jurisdiction
Lets start by taking a look at the different kinds of VPN protocols available right now.
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Why Is It Worth Getting A VPN
The truth is, a VPN is not a one-size-fits-all solution to every internet security problem. Despite many vendors marketing themselves as such, you will undoubtedly encounter risks each time you go online, even if choosing a top VPN service.
In light of that, and if youre stuck asking yourself, should I use a VPN?, the short answer is yes, you should.
For a longer answer, I will touch on the benefits that come from hopping on a reliable VPN service. These VPN facts will show you why many users consider this service essential.
Improved Privacy and Security
Online privacy posts, discussions, and resources have since transcended obscure forums and subreddits. These days, advocates of online anonymity are no longer considered wearers of tin foil hats.
And yet, many internet users think they have nothing to hide. Hmm? Theres actually plenty of reasons to believe that this couldnt be further from the truth.
When left exposed, numerous entities can potentially exploit your traffic or identity. This is exactly what a VPN protects you against often considered the highest priority among VPN users.
Taking advantage of the privacy cloak a VPN provides shouldnt be automatically associated with underhanded activities. Common applications include staying safe while connected to public Wi-Fi networks or torrenting. Additionally, you can effectively hide from companies and websites that track your online activities and collect data for targeted ads.
Gain Access to Geo-Blocked Content
How Do I Choose A VPN Provider
When selecting a VPN provider, think about the following criteria:
Ease of useYou want secure technology, without having to be a tech whiz to use it. Thats why you should look for a product that is easy to implement, like the McAfee® Safe Connect VPN app, which allows you to easily and securely connect, ensuring that your passwords and data stay private when using public networks.
Robust securityLook for a VPN with bank-grade encryption. This way, no one can read or access the private information you send over the network.
Access to virtual locationsThis feature helps you gain even more anonymity online by using a VPN server that shows a different location than your point of access. For example, you may be getting online in the United States, but your VPN server may show you are connected in France.
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VPN Uses: Access Free Voip Services Like Whatsapp
Strict national governments with huge stakes in mobile networks will often restrict access to free VoIP services like WhatsApp, Skype, Messenger and more because doing so ensures they make more money.
This is a huge reason why you might want a UAE VPN when living or traveling to Dubai or elsewhere, and while rules change frequently, it’s been known for UAE residents to have to use a VPN to even access voice chat on video games.
Paying for a VPN and using free VoIP services usually ends up costing much less than spending money on the monopolized telephone networks. For those who are short on money, a cheap service like Surfshark less than $2.50 a month is a great way of saving cash and staying in contact with loved ones.
What Happens If A VPN Connection Fails While I’m On A Remote Connection
A lot depends on what VPN you’re using, how it’s set up, and where you’re connecting. That said, let’s look at the most likely scenario.
Recall that when you’re online and connected to an internet application through a VPN, a few things are happening: Your data from your computer to the VPN service is encrypted by the VPN. Your data from the VPN service to the internet application may or may not be encrypted via https, but the VPN service does not encrypt it. And your IP address is spoofed. The online application sees the IP address of the VPN service, not of your laptop.
When a VPN connection drops, you might just lose your connection. But because the internet is very good at routing around failures, what is more likely to happen is your computer will reconnect to the internet application, simply bypassing the VPN service. That means that — on failure — your local IP address may “leak out” and be logged by the internet application, and your data may be open to local Wi-Fi hackers at your hotel or wherever you’re doing your computing.
There is a reasonably robust solution to that problem, and that’s next.
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What Is The Onion Router Or Tor
The Tor network is an open-source privacy program that permits users to browse the web anonymously. It was initially developed and solely used by U.S Navy to protect sensitive government communications before it became available for public use at large.
The onion router or Tor provides privacy by bouncing communications around several nodes before finally reaching their destination without revealing where it came into contact with other Tor users . This ensures no single point of entry for unwanted attention making tors web browsing more secure than ever!
Tor is the ultimate way to stay anonymous on the Internet. Its free, easy-to-use, and protects you against malware while also hiding your location from other hackers who want access to personal data like emails or social security numbers.
How Can A VPN Help Protect Against Identity Theft
Identity theft occurs when thieves steal your personal information and use it to commit crimes in your name like taking over or opening new accounts, filing tax returns in your name, or renting or buying property. A VPN can help protect against identity theft by helping protect your data. It creates an encrypted tunnel for the data you send and receive thats out of reach of cyberthieves.
If your smartphone’s Wi-Fi is enabled at all times, your device could be vulnerable without you ever knowing it. Everyday activities like online shopping, banking and browsing can expose your information, making you vulnerable to cybercrime.
A VPN can protect the information you share or access using your devices. Thats especially important when using a public Wi-Fi network, where a cyberthief on the same network could capture your login credentials and the credit card number you type in when you shop online.
You cant prevent identity theft. No one can. Some security aspects like a data breach at an organization where you have an account are out of your control. But a VPN can help safeguard the information you send from and receive on your devices.
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What Is A VPN And Why Would I Need One
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He’s written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami’s NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read nearly one billion times—and that’s just here at How-To Geek. Read more…
Justin Duino is the Managing Editor at How-To Geek. He has spent the last decade writing about Android, smartphones, and other mobile technology. In addition to his written work, he has also been a regular guest commentator on CBS News and BBC World News and Radio to discuss current events in the technology industry. Read more…
A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, allows you to create a secure connection to another network over the Internet. VPNs can be used to access region-restricted websites, shield your browsing activity from prying eyes on public Wi-Fi, and more.
These days VPNs are really popular, but not for the reasons they were originally created. They originally were just a way to connect business networks together securely over the internet or allow you to access a business network from home.
Unblock Websites And Avoid Government Censorship
Our latest research shows that this kind of intentional internet shutdown cost the world economy up to $4B in 2020 alone.
China, for example, uses its infamous Great Firewall to prevent people from accessing popular websites like Google, Facebook, and YouTube.
During times of political turmoil, other countries like Algeria, India, and Chad have also blocked access to social media and messaging apps like WhatsApp and Twitter.
Citizens in countries affected by internet censorship can use a VPN to bypass website blocks and access the global internet.
Thats because a VPN encrypts your traffic and masks your IP address, hiding your identity and activity from internet censors.
Some VPN services also offer obfuscation technology, which helps evade more sophisticated systems of censorship. Obfuscation disguises your VPN traffic, making it appear like normal browsing data.
If youre interested in VPNs that can effectively bypass censorship, read our list of the best VPNs by category.
For journalists, activists, and whistleblowers, VPNs are a vital resource for safely speaking out against governments that limit freedom of speech and freedom of the press.
For everyday people living under censorship, VPNs can also be an essential way to access information and services that are otherwise blocked.
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Advantage : Protection Against Hackers And Governments
A VPN encrypts your data traffic through strong encryption protocols, which make intercepting and reading your data almost impossible. Why is this important? Well, in this day and age there are a lot of parties that want to listen in or take a look at what you are doing online.
There are many different parties that are interested in your internet traffic, among them are governments and cybercriminals. The security a VPN offers makes it a lot harder for them to look at your data. This increases your online safety.
We have to mention that a VPN isnt the ultimate solution to all things cybercrime. We always recommend combining a VPN with a good antivirus solution so you cover all your bases.
What Should A Good VPN Do
You should rely on your VPN to perform one or more tasks. The VPN itself should also be protected against compromise. These are the features you should expect from a comprehensive VPN solution:
- Encryption of your IP address: The primary job of a VPN is to hide your IP address from your ISP and other third parties. This allows you to send and receive information online without the risk of anyone but you and the VPN provider seeing it.
- Encryption of protocols: A VPN should also prevent you from leaving traces, for example, in the form of your internet history, search history and cookies. The encryption of cookies is especially important because it prevents third parties from gaining access to confidential information such as personal data, financial information and other content on websites.
- Kill switch: If your VPN connection is suddenly interrupted, your secure connection will also be interrupted. A good VPN can detect this sudden downtime and terminate preselected programs, reducing the likelihood that data is compromised.
- Two-factor authentication: By using a variety of authentication methods, a strong VPN checks everyone who tries to log in. For example, you might be prompted to enter a password, after which a code is sent to your mobile device. This makes it difficult for uninvited third parties to access your secure connection.
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Can A VPN Guarantee My Privacy
Oh, heck no. A VPN can help ensure you’re not snooped on when connecting between your computer and a website. But the website itself is quite capable of some serious privacy violations. For example, a VPN can’t protect you against a website setting a tracking cookie that will tell other websites about you. A VPN can’t protect you against a website recording information about products you’re interested in. A VPN can’t protect you against a website that sells your email address to list brokers. Yada, yada, yada.
A VPN does help protect you in the situations we’ve discussed in previous sections. But don’t expect a VPN to be a magical privacy shield that will keep everything you do private and confidential. There are many, many ways your privacy can be compromised, and a VPN will be of only partial help.
Tips For Using A VPN To Stay Safe
VPNs can add a layer of security and privacy to your web browsing, but its a relatively thin layer considering how good the tech industry has become at tracking people.
The most important thing to do about this is to use the safety steps I listed above, such as a password manager, multifactor authentication, and tracking blockers, and to follow standard safety advice to avoid online dangers that have nothing to do with your ISP or IP address. VPNs do not protect against most known online risks, such as phishing, tracking, malware, and ransomware, says Roya Ensafi, assistant professor at the University of Michigans computer science & engineering department and principal investigator of VPNalyzer.
White is quick to point out that theres ultimately no guarantee that a VPN provider is on the level, even when testing like Consumer Reports comes back with good results. The best we can do is to get an assessment for symptoms and hints of trustworthiness when we evaluate a VPN, he says.
That said, choosing a VPN that seems solid is much safer than one without those signals of trustworthiness. Not doing so could put you at risk. If you use a VPN with a default configuration thats insecure, it could allow for lateral movement, where an attacker can move through your home network and access all of your devices.
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What Is A VPN Summary
A VPN is a secure connection between you and the internet. It provides its users with more online privacy, security, and freedom. There are several ways to set up a VPN connection, but most private users do so by subscribing to a VPN service.
These are the main reasons people might want to use a VPN:
- Youll be more anonymous online.
- Youll be safer online and your data will be better protected.
- You will be able to circumvent censorship and geographical blocks.
There are a number of major providers thatll give you access to servers all around the world for just a couple of dollars a month. These providers constantly make sure that their security and the speed of their servers is in order. After extensive testing, we have identified the best VPN providers for you.
If you have a burning question about VPNs, we might be able to help you out. Simply click one of the queries below to see the answer. Do you have a question that isnt answered in this list? Feel free to place a comment underneath this article, and well help you out as soon as we can!
How To Set Up Your VPN
Setting up your own VPN connection is simpler than it might seem. Your VPN provider will do most of the work for you. First, you will need to find a VPN service that you like. On our site you can find reviews of the different providers as well as some recommendations.
When you find a VPN that fits your needs, you subscribe to their service and download and install the software they provide. Most VPN providers offer software for all types of devices and operating systems. You can download a VPN client for Windows, Mac, iPhone, Android, and sometimes Linux. Within this software, you can choose which protocol to use and which VPN server you wish to connect to. In just a few clicks youll be connected to a server. Now you can use the internet in a safe and anonymous manner, free from any restrictions or censorship that your geographical location might impose!
Installing a VPN is easy. Below, well tell you how to do this in three steps.
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