If you’re reading this, then you probably already know what VPN (Virtual Private Network) is and why you might need it. You might have even tried to use it before and ran into problems. If not, then keep reading!
But first, what is VPN?
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. In other words, it’s a type of network that allows you to create a private network just for online interactions. When you connect to a VPN, all of your outgoing internet traffic is encrypted and secured. This means that people can’t monitor or view your internet activity as it travels from point A to point B.
Why do I need VPN?
Viruses. Spyware. Hackers. Rogue apps. All of these are problematic and can put your privacy and security at risk. If you use public Wi-Fi to connect to the internet, then all of your internet traffic is open to the prying eyes of strangers, malicious actors, and perhaps even the government. If you use regular Wi-Fi, then even your closest WiFi buddies could potentially snoop on your activity.
Enter VPN. With a VPN, you can encrypt your internet traffic and thus keep strangers and malicious actors from snooping on your activities. Even better, you can use a VPN to hide your actual IP (Internet Protocol) address. The IP address that you have always used to identify yourself whenever you make an online purchase or search online. The IP address that enables you to connect to specific websites, servers, and blogs.
To understand why the IP address is so important, you have to understand how the internet works. Without getting too technical (and thus boring the average reader), in order to gain access to a website or service, you need to have a DNS (Domain Name System) server reachable by the public that can translate your IP address to a meaningful domain name.
For example, if you have an IP address of 220.127.116.11, then your DNS server will need to know that 418.104.22.168 is trying to reach a specific website. Without a VPN, all of your traffic is sent in the clear, and thus anyone who’s watching or listening can see that you are trying to reach a specific website.
So how do I set up a VPN?
There are many different VPN services out there, and they all differ slightly in how they operate. The most important thing to keep in mind is that once you have set it up, you have to keep VPN on all of your devices, otherwise your security will be diminished (probably to the point where it’s not worth using).
Fortunately, most VPN services are pretty easy to use. Even beginners will be able to set them up in minutes and start using them right away.
Here are the steps to set up a VPN on your computer or mobile device:
Step 1: Install a VPN app
Download and install the VPN app that you choose. It really doesn’t matter which one you get as long as it’s compatible with your operating system. If you have more than one device, then you should get a VPN app for each one. It never hurts to be extra careful when it comes to your security.
Step 2: Connect to the internet through the VPN
Once you have installed the VPN app and it’s been running in the background for a while, you are ready to connect to the internet through the VPN. If you are on a computer, then you simply need to click the network icon in the toolbar and select the VPN connection from the list. If you are on a mobile device, then you probably already have the VPN app open on your screen. When you connect to the internet through the VPN, all of your outgoing internet traffic is secured and thus cannot be sniffed by third parties.
Step 3: Enjoy your newfound privacy!
You have successfully set up a VPN. Now you can enjoy your newfound privacy on the internet. As long as you are using a VPN, all of your outgoing internet traffic is encrypted and thus cannot be seen by third parties. Incoming internet traffic is encrypted as well by default, so it’s already protected. You do not need to do anything else to enjoy increased privacy. The fact that your internet traffic is now secured is all that you need to know in order to use it.
There are many benefits to using a VPN. Keep in mind that many VPN services offer a free version that you can try out before you decide to make a purchase. If you are looking for a simple VPN solution, then you can’t go wrong with the free version. It will encrypt your data and thus increase your security while also allowing you to connect to remote servers without having to pay for a single byte.
For more information and tips on how to protect your privacy online, then be sure to check out the best VPNs for 2020.