A beginners guide to VPNs

More often than not, we seem to hear about someone getting hacked, an identity stolen, or privacy being exploited. This is a reality of 2019. A reality where it is more important to lock our computers than our own front doors. That’s why VPNs are becoming increasingly important in this era of technology to protect ourselves and our identity. 

VPN is an acronym for Virtual Private Network and was originally created for businesses and corporations as a way to connect networks together securely over the internet or allow them to access a business network from home. To be clear: a VPN is NOT an internet connection; it is a safer way to access the internet. Without it, your computer server accesses the internet directly, doubling your chances of being hacked. 

VPN creates a tunnel that encrypts your information, so if someone gets a hold of your data, they won’t be able to read it. Basically, the VPN server is the middleman that accesses the internet on your behalf, masking your own location by tricking the site into thinking you are where the VPN server is, not your home or office, or real location. They can help secure your web traffic against snoops, spies, and anyone else who wants to steal or monetize data. VPNs can be used to: 

  • Bypass country boundaries on websites or streaming audio and video
  • Watch streaming media like Netflix and Hulu
  • Protect yourself from untrustworthy WIFI hotspots 
  • Give you some anonymity online by hiding your true location
  • Protect yourself from being logged while torrenting. 
  • Allow you to surf the web anonymously

The majority of people using VPNs are for bypassing geographic restrictions to watch content in a different country, for example if there is a show available only to Netflix UK and not to Netflix US, you can use a VPN to trick the site into thinking you are in a different location, because the signal is coming from a different server, not your own. VPNs also come in handy when booking flights or hotels because research has shown that prices vary depending on your location, and a VPN can potentially help save you a lot of money. 

On another note, many times governments can request information collected from websites (AKA cookies) and use listed IP addresses to track your location, but with VPN, they can only reach the VPN server and not your actual address.  Many VPNs also have a no-logs policy, which means they don’t record what sites you visit, so if the government requests the VPN provider for tracking logs, your information won’t be there! 

So where can you find a good trustworthy VPN? According to CNET , NordVPN comes in first, followed by ExpressVPN, PureVPN, Norton Secure VPN, and more for 2019’s best VPN services.