More and more internet users are tunneling their traffic through a consumer virtual private network (VPN). It’s a simple and effective way to safeguard data sent and received over the Internet from prying eyes. If you’re thinking about getting a VPN, though, you might be wondering precisely how it works.
Overview of VPN Technology and How It Works
A VPN creates a secure private network on a public Internet connection. Usually, data transferred over the Internet is vulnerable to interception. If you provide a website with your personal information, for instance, a tech-savvy criminal may steal your data and sell it on the black market. A VPN prevents this from happening by tunneling your traffic through an encrypted private network.
You still need regular Internet service when using a VPN. The VPN merely is applied over your Internet service. Once you are connected, it tunnels your traffic through the provider’s secure private network, thus offering a higher level of security.
There are different types of VPNs, including corporate and consumer. Also known as a remote access VPN, the corporate flavor allows a company’s workers to access a secure private Intranet from a remote location. A consumer VPN, on the other hand, connects the user to a secure private network which tunnels his or her Internet traffic.
Benefits of Using a Consumer VPN
The most significant benefit of using a consumer VPN is privacy. According to a Statista online privacy study, only 12 percent of the U.S. adult population is confident in the federal government’s ability to protect their personal information. When you use the Internet, it opens the doors to a world of privacy concerns.
Cybercriminals can intercept anything you type and submit to a website online. They can also easily capture any data a site sends you. Thankfully, a VPN ensures that no one other than you and the website you are visiting can read this data. VPN traffic is encrypted using protocols like PPTP, L2TP, SSDTP, and OpenVPN. So, even if a cybercriminal hacks your connection, he or she can’t read the data you tunnel through a VPN.
A VPN is particularly useful when connecting to public Wi-Fi hotspots. Whether you’re at a local coffee shop, mall, hotel or airport, Wi-Fi hotspots are notorious for their lack of security. Hackers can connect to the hotspot while snooping on the activities of other users. With a consumer VPN, you can enjoy a secure Internet connection on these otherwise vulnerable networks.
In addition to increased security and privacy, a VPN can also bypass internet protocol (IP) address restrictions. Many websites, apps, and online services employ these. Netflix, for example, shows different content in different regions. A consumer VPN allows you to mask your real IP address by displaying the provider’s IP address instead. If an online service is blocking content or features because of your region, a VPN may allow you to bypass this restriction.
Consumer VPNs are also surprisingly affordable. Depending on the provider, you’re looking at a small fee every month to use the service. For the most part, free services should be avoided. If you decide you no longer want or need the VPN, you just cancel it.
Unless you’ve used one before, you may assume that VPNs are challenging to set up and use. The truth, however, is that it takes just a few minutes to connect. Every provider supplies their version of client software, which is as simple to install as any other application. These are but a few reasons to use a consumer VPN.