Sam - August 15, 2016

How a VPN Can Protect Your Privacy Online

What is a VPN

Virtual Private Network (VPN), is a piece of software that allows you to connect to a private network through a public network.

When you are connected to this private network, all data that is sent and received between websites and your computer is encrypted and sent through a server.

This has a number of uses some of which are:

  • Hiding your internet activity from your ISP

  • Allowing you to evade censorship by entities such as your work, school or government

  • Allowing you to trick websites you access into thinking you are browsing from a different location

  • Allowing you to protect your data when using a public network

While these are all certainly useful thing, today we are going to focus specifically on how a VPN can protect your privacy online, and how using one can help you browse the internet safely.

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Why should I use a VPN to protect my privacy?

As internet use becomes more and more widespread, so do the threats that come along with it. As well as this, as things such as NSA scandal show, surveillance of what you are doing on the net is also increasing.

Using a VPN is one way to reduce your susceptibility to some of the threats on the internet. This is because a VPN makes it harder for people, whether your ISP, hackers, the government or your boss to watch what you are doing on the internet.

How does a VPN protect your privacy?

A VPN does this by first encrypting your data, and then by sending it through a server. Let’s take a look at how these two things protect your privacy.

Encrypt your data

One of the main things a VPN does is encrypt your data. This means it changes it from its original form, into data that no-one can understand. This means that if anyone manages to intercept the data, instead of seeing your private information they will just see a lot of indecipherable gibberish.

Redirect you data to a third server

The second thing a VPN does that protects your privacy is that it redirects your incoming and outgoing data through a server. This means that if people try to track your web browsing, they won’t see you computer or the websites you are visiting, they will just see the server you have been redirected through.

When will this protect my Privacy?

Protect privacy by hiding from your ISP

When you use the internet without a VPN all your data is unencrypted and passes through your ISP (Internet service provider).

This means that your ISP can easily see and keep a record of what you are browsing. This data can then be passed along to anyone who may require access to this data such as the government.

However, when using a VPN, all your data is encrypted and travels through the VPN’s servers. This means that it is harder for you ISP to see what you are accessing, instead, it only sees that you are connected to the VPN server.

The location of your IP address also changes from your home location to that of your VPN’s server.

Protect yourself when using a public wifi hotspot

The other main protection a VPN offers you is that it gives you extra protection when using public wifi hotspots.

Anytime you connect to a wifi hotspot you are essentially putting your data into the hands of an unknown quantity. If you use these wifi spots frequently your data could be at risk numerous times a week.

All it takes is for one of these public spots to be hacked and all your data from that session could have been stolen. That could include things such as work emails, facebook passwords or even internet banking.

It is also worth mentioning that even if you trust the hotspot provider, if the network is unprotected (ie no password, anyone can access it), there is still a chance of danger. This is because hackers can access the public network as easily as you can.

However, by using a VPN when you connect to public WiFi hotspots, your connection is encrypted. This means that is if anyone on the public network is trying to intercept your data it will be much harder for them to see your information.

What to keep in mind:

Of course, VPN’s aren’t completely foolproof and there are a couple of things you should think about.

Firstly your data will go through your VPN provider. This essentially means that you should make sure you trust the provider to look after your data. As a VPN providers livelihood is essentially made on selling a product that protects people’s privacy, most providers try to keep as little of your data as possible. However, this is still something that you should check.

The second downside is that encrypting all your data and sending it through servers on the other side of the world can mean your internet connection slows down. While most people’s connections are fast enough for it not to be especially noticeable, you can keep things as fast as possible by choosing servers that are as close to your destination as possible.

And that is all for our roundup of how a VPN can protect your privacy online. We hope that after reading this article you understand why, along with your antivirus software, getting a VPN can be a crucial part of your internet security tools.

And remember, if you decide that you want to try out using a VPN without paying a cent, go to www.proxyrack.com/vpn/ to download their completely free VPN.

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Datacenter proxies

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