What is a VPN?

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  • What is a VPN?
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We want to dispel the idea that VPNs are unsafe or not worth using. Just do a simple Google search, and you’ll see common searches like, “are VPNs safe” and “are VPNs bad.” As long as you stick to a trusted VPN service, VPNs are not only safe, but will even increase your personal security online.

What is a VPN and how does it protect me? 

A virtual private network (VPN) gives you online privacy and anonymity by creating a private network from a public internet connection. VPNs mask your internet protocol (IP) address so your online actions are virtually untraceable. Most important, VPN services establish secure and encrypted connections to provide greater privacy than even a secured Wi-Fi hotspot.

Surfing the web or transacting on an unsecured Wi-Fi network means you could be exposing your private information and browsing habits. That’s why a virtual private network, better known as a VPN, should be a must for anyone concerned about their online security and privacy.

The encryption and anonymity that a VPN provides helps protect your online activities: sending emails, shopping online, or paying bills. VPNs also help keep your web browsing anonymous.

Does a VPN change my IP address? 

Every internet connection is assigned a unique set of numbers called an IP address, which is tied to information such as geographic location, ISP, etc. A VPN replaces your actual IP address to make it look like you’ve connected to the internet from a different location: the physical location of the VPN server, rather than your real location. This is just one reason why so many people use VPNs. This can be handy when you want to hide from advertising trackers or protect your search history.  

How to use a VPN to change my IP address 

To change your IP address, you simply open your VPN app, select the server location you’d like to connect to, and you’re done. You’re now browsing with a new IP address. If you’d like to make sure your IP has changed, open up a browser and search for “What’s my IP address” and click on one of the results. 

Can a VPN protect my search history? 

When you search for a website, or type a URL into your navigation bar, your device sends something called a DNS request, which translates the website into the IP address of the web server; this is how your browser can find the website and serve its content to you. By encrypting your DNS requests, a VPN can hide your search habits and history from those that might use that info as part of building a profile of you. This type of info could be used in a wide variety of ways, from legitimately serving targeted ads to nefarious social engineering.  

Can a VPN protect my identity? 

With your VPN on, trackers will think all of your browsing is coming from a different device in a different location. This throws off the profile advertisers try to build because they think you’re someone else. 

Another way a VPN can protect your identity is by preventing some types of hacking. Stopping attacks on public WiFi where a bad actor tries to get between you and the website you’re visiting, is just one-way VPNs can help. It’s called a Man-in-the-Middle attack.

Does a VPN make me anonymous? 

No, a VPN cannot make you anonymous. They only help to secure what you’re doing, but your ISP still knows when you’re using the internet. They just can’t see what you’re doing, what sites you visit, or how long you’ve been on a site.