In today’s world, privacy and security are major concerns. For years, internet security has been dominated by the debate between convenience and safety. On one side, you have your personal data and on the other, you have your freedom of online expression. It is no secret that the NSA is closely monitoring our every move on social media, but that is also the case with other large tech companies that we trust to keep our personal information secure.
Encryption plays a critical role in today’s digital world. Whether you use PGP, GPG, or another form of encryption, your data is secure while transmitted and stored on remote servers.
What is a VPN?
A VPN is an acronym for a Virtual Private Network. Essentially, a VPN is a software-based tunnel that allows you to securely exchange data with a remote computer or server. The data is protected by encryption (usually via public or private keys), and it is usually impossible for third parties to monitor or access the information being transited. In simple terms, a VPN allows you to create a secure connection between your computer or mobile device and a remote server, thus enabling you to securely access resources on the internet that you might not have otherwise had the capability to.
To understand the concept behind a VPN, let’s first consider the regular internet. When you connect to a website, you usually do so via a so-called Domain Name System (DNS). This is a naming system for the internet that allows users to easily type in their domain names (like google.com) rather than having to remember long complex IP addresses. That is, each IP address only handles a single computer connection, whereas a domain name can be used by multiple devices.
When you visit a website, your computer will make a request to find the numerical IP address of the server that is hosting that site. In most cases, the site you visit will be hosted on a remote server and, for the most part, that server will be unknown to you. For security purposes, that server will encrypt the information you send it, and only the intended recipient will have the decryption key.
With a VPN, all of that changes. When you connect to a VPN, it typically acts as a middleman between your computer and the servers of other websites and services. This means that all data is exchanged via the VPN and, as a result, is much more secure. That is because a VPN is generally more secure than the regular internet, since it takes a lot more to compromise a VPN than it does a regular connection. In most cases, the weakest point in a VPN is the password, and the encryption ensures that even if someone manages to get that information, it will be of no use to them. Better yet, the majority of VPNs use military-grade 2-factor authentication, which greatly increases security even more. That is because most websites and services that you interact with on a daily basis use 2FA, whereas most VPNs do not.
In addition to increasing security, a VPN also improves your privacy, in two ways. First, if you use a VPN, your internet activity will be harder for ISPs to track. Second, since all of your internet traffic will be encrypted, you will be less susceptible to surveillance from governments and other third parties. Naturally, this does not mean that your information will be absolutely private, as it can still be traced via the aforementioned techniques, but it will be protected against third party surveillance. In most cases, the exact same techniques that will help you keep your personal information secure will also help you keep your activity private, even if you are connecting to a VPN.
Why Should You Use A VPN?
It is important to note that not all VPNs are made equal, and you should select a VPN carefully. It is also important to use a VPN that is capable of handling your specific requirements. For example, if you are looking for a VPN that is highly secure and also has a strong focus on user experience, you should probably check out Nord VPN or IPVANISH because they offer just that.
Features To Look For In A VPN
When selecting a VPN, you should not just look at the price or support but also consider the level of security, speed, and user experience that the service provides. To that end, here are just a few of the features you should consider: