If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re interested in learning how to hide your IP address from untrusted sources – including the internet – and making your identity more private and secure. If so, then this article is for you; you’re in the right place. We’ll cover some of the basics of what a VPN is and why you might want to consider using one.
What Is A VPN?
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) allows for the creation of a private network within the cloud. That is, using a VPN gives you the ability to create a secured connection over a public network – such as the internet – that allows for the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of your data.
Essentially, this is a way to get a private connection to a public network – like the internet – through an intermediary, usually at a cost. That is, instead of connecting directly to the public network, you connect to a company’s server, which in turn connects you to the public network.
VPNs are frequently used for secure remote access, workplace productivity, and to keep your personal data secure. Most people use VPNs for the first and third use-cases – securing remote access to private networks and protecting personal data – although they can also be used for the second use-case.
Why Should You Use A VPN?
As we mentioned above, one of the primary purposes of a VPN is to allow for private communications over a public network. That is, your data is secured as it travels over the internet en route to its recipient (which might be someone on the other end of a chat, an email, or a download).
In most cases, this won’t be a problem; the intermediary won’t be able to see or access your data (this varies from vendor to vendor and can be monitored through the use of encryption or other safeguards).
However, there are cases where an intermediary might be able to see or access your data. One example is when you’re logging into a website that uses a third-party service to log you in (this is especially dangerous if they store your username and password in plain text, since they then have access to your data). In these situations, using a VPN is usually a good idea.
How Do I Use A VPN?
There are basically two methods that you can use to connect to a VPN. The first is through the use of a compatible app or a dedicated VPN client; the second is through a web browser (this is usually the preferred method since it is easy to set up and use).
We’ll discuss the first method – using a VPN app or client – below. If you’d like, you can read about the second method (using a VPN with the help of a web browser) in more detail here.
Step 1: Download And Install The VPN App
Your first step is to download and install the VPN app on your device. You can find a list of the best free VPN apps here. In most cases, you’ll have to register with the app provider (usually through the use of your email address) to download it. Once you do, you’ll be able to connect to a VPN server (if you’re connected to the internet) or initiate a VPN connection (if you’re offline).
Step 2: Configure The VPN App To Your Needs
After you’ve installed the VPN app on your device, you’ll have to configure it to your needs. This usually involves inputting a username and password (usually the same as your account login details) and choosing a VPN server from a list of frequently used VPNs.
Then, you’ll have to confirm your selection by clicking “continue” or “apply” (depending on the program).
Step 3: Connect To Your VPN (App Or Client) On The Go
Now that the VPN app is configured, you can connect to it on the go. This is usually done through the use of a compatible app or a dedicated VPN client. For example, if you have Android or iOS devices, you can use the built-in VPN apps to connect to a VPN server.
However, if you prefer to use a dedicated client, you can connect to a VPN server through a web browser (a popular choice since most people use web browsers to access the internet anyway). To connect to a VPN server through a web browser, type the IP address of the server (usually found by clicking on the link “connect” in the VPN’s registration email) into your browser’s address bar and click “enter.” You’ll then be prompted to log in to the VPN.
Step 4: Enjoy The Security And Anonymity Of A VPN!
Once you’ve connected to a VPN server, you can enjoy the security and anonymity of a VPN. This last step is usually done by using the same device that you connected with (to log in) and browsing the internet (or connecting to one of the internet’s many private networks – such as a Gmail or Facebook – through a VPN).
Since your identity is hidden (at least from the perspective of the internet) when you’re connected to a VPN, you shouldn’t have any trouble completing tasks on the internet without being discovered. Similarly, since your data is secured when it travels over the internet en route to its recipient, your personal information should be secure as well when stored on a publicly accessible server (such as the internet).
Is A VPN Suitable For My Situation?
The short answer is yes – a VPN is usually suitable for most situations. That is, most people use VPNs for one or more of the following reasons:
- to secure remote access to private networks (especially when connecting from a public location – like a coffee shop, hotel lobby, or airport);
- to browse the internet (and the many private networks that lay within it) anonymously and securely;
- to keep their personal data secure while online; and
- to ensure that their online activities are not tracked and recorded by third parties (such as advertisers or government agencies).
Of course, there are cases where a VPN might not be the best option. For example, if you’re using a public Wi-Fi connection at a coffee shop while connecting to a VPN, you’re not really hiding your IP address since anyone could potentially sniff out your activity (this is easily done through the use of a VPN protocol analyzer).
How Do I Use A VPN With My Web Browser?
If you prefer to use a VPN with the help of a web browser, you can do so via the use of a dedicated proxy—which is a software-based proxy that operates in parallel with your web browser – or through the use of an encrypted connection to a VPN server.
To use a VPN with the help of a dedicated proxy, all you have to do is type the IP address of the VPN server (usually found through the use of email or the web) into your browser’s address bar and click “enter.” You’ll then be prompted to log in to the VPN.
To use a VPN with the help of an encrypted connection, you’ll have to do a bit more (but it’s still a fairly easy process). First, you’ll have to install a dedicated VPN client on your device. This client will handle all the technical details of establishing an encrypted connection to a VPN server. Once connected, you can use your web browser (through the dedicated VPN client) as normal – allowing for private communications and the protection of your personal data.
Which Type Of VPN Should I Use?
There are three basic types of VPNs: