VPNs were used by businesses to allow employees to connect to the company network while working remotely until recently.
However, as a result of the 2013 revelations made by Edward Snowden, which revealed that governments around the world are monitoring their citizens’ use of the internet, people began to consider their online privacy more seriously.
Consumer VPN have seen a meteoric rise in popularity due to this and the practice of content providers using geo-blocking to prevent access from certain countries.
The most significant theoretical and practical aspects of VPNs are discussed in this guide. I can’t possibly cover everything you need to know.
This VPN guide has a lot of information for anyone who has never used a VPN before, wants to learn more about how they work, or wants more information before signing up for a subscription. Put your thinking cap on because I won’t dumb it down.
What is a VPN?
Virtual Private Network is an abbreviation for VPN. Let’s first take a look at how you normally connect to the internet in order to fully explain what a VPN is and does.
Your device, such as a laptop or mobile phone, connects to a router via WiFi or an ethernet cable when you connect to the internet. A modem that, in turn, connects to the internet via your internet service provider (ISP) is connected to the router.
Through these connections, your device sends data packets, which contain instructions for what you want the internet to “do,” such as which website to visit and login information.
After that, the website responds by sending data packets back to you that display the website as well as any required content or information.
Further reading and the source: Cloudflare
These data packets can reveal a lot about you to your Internet service provider and the websites you visit, including the following:
- Your IP address determines your precise location.
- When and for how long do you visit which websites?
- Any information you provide on websites that are not protected by HTTPS.
This information may restrict your access to content and track your location or behavior. Content may be restricted by ThePirateBay, your Internet Service Provider; For instance, as a result of government regulations, a well-known torrent-sharing website is blocked by all UK ISPs.
It could also be restricted by the websites themselves. Because each nation has a unique library of titles that are available, which we will examine in greater depth in a moment, Netflix is one of the most commonly used examples of restrictions.
On the other hand, what a VPN does is establish a safe VPN tunnel—also known as a VPN gateway—between your device and the internet.
This indicates that all of the previously mentioned data packets are encrypted before being sent to a VPN company-owned remote server, where they are decrypted and sent to the internet.
The return packets follow the same route. This indicates that even if the network to which you are connected has been compromised and someone is monitoring the data packets you send and receive (a process known as “packet sniffing”), all they will see is a jumble of letters and numbers (ciphertext).
Further reading and the source: AT&T Cybersecurity
A VPN connection and regular internet differ primarily in the following ways:
- At the point of origin (your device), all data is encrypted and only decrypted when it reaches the VPN company’s server.
- The VPN server’s IP address conceals your real IP address.
- Your ISP cannot determine which websites you visit.
- Depending on the speed of the VPN server and the amount of time it takes to encrypt and decrypt data, using a VPN may slow down the internet.