More people than ever before are using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to browse the internet, do online shopping and more. Since my non-techy friends and family have started asking me about VPNs, I have decided its time to write an article to explain why you need a VPN, what it is, and how to use it. All in plain English.
What this article will cover:
What is a VPN? A simple explanation
A VPN is a way of establishing a safe communication stream across the internet. Internet connected devices on a VPN will appear as though they are connect to the same local network.
Not using a VPN is kind of like dropping a message in a bottle into a river. Anyone down stream on a boat could pick up and read each message. That message could contain your password, credit card, social security number, or anything you want to keep private. Now imagine there is a tube in that river that allows messages to be sent through it. Plus messages are sent in a locked capsule. Everything is safe and secure in that tube. Even if someone could see that messages are being sent a key is needed to read it. That tube is kind of how a VPN works.
How does a VPN help you?
There are many reasons to use a VPN. Here are some benefits for the general public.
Stay secure on free WiFi & public networks
By connecting to free WiFi you are connecting to a public network. Doing this without a VPN is risky because anyone on that network can watch your internet traffic. That means anyone on that network could possibly see your username, password, credit card information, and more. Everything is encrypted with a VPN which means your internet traffic will be secure. Even on a public network. Encryption is important here because it is like putting a lock on your information and only you and one other person have the key. This is why it is important to choose a reliable VPN provider. One that is worth mentioning is NordVPN. They have a lot of options and make it easy for anyone to start using a VPN.
Shielding your internet activity
Some internet service providers (e.g. XFINITY, Charter) have been known to collect your information and sell it. Since all of your internet traffic goes through them, they can see every site you’ve been to. They can legally collect and sell this information to companies or whoever wants to pay for it. With a VPN this is not possible. All your internet service provider will see is encrypted, unreadable information when you a VPN. Additionally, cyber criminals will be able to inject malware or steal your information because they do not have the key to decrypt your internet traffic.
Blocking annoying ads
Recently I started monitoring what was being loaded while I used the internet. I found that about 50% of the traffic being sent was for ads.