What is a VPN, what is it for, and when to use it

What is a VPN, what is it for, and when to use it

If you need to protect your IP address or even what you are looking for or visiting on the Internet, a VPN can become the ideal tool, especially when you connect from, for example, a public Wi-Fi network, where anyone could have access to our data navigation and personal.

The acronym VPN basically stands for Virtual Private Network; or, what is the same, Virtual Private Network. It consists of a method used to connect to the Internet privately. To achieve this, the system hides our real IP address and routes both our Internet traffic and our data through a private and securely encrypted tunnel through networks that are public.

In recent years they have become tremendously useful and popular, mainly due to the fact that they provide a way to surf the Internet without revealing our personal identity, data or location. In this way, when the data is encrypted, search engines or ISPs, for example, cannot see or track our activity on the web.

How does a VPN network work?

Assuming that a VPN network consists, as we have indicated, of a Virtual Private Network, it is an option that protects us in three different ways:

Hide our real IP address and location

Once we connect to the service or the VPN network, it offers us the possibility of connecting from a new server, which acts as a gateway. Thus, the public IP would not be ours, but that of that server. 

In other words, the VPN service would “spoof” our original IP address, making it appear that we are in a city or even a country other than the one we are actually in.

Encrypt our private data using encryption

When we use a VPN service or network, both our Internet traffic and our personal information, located inside the private tunnel, are encrypted using encryption. Encryption is a way to hide information modifying it to look like random data, which is essential for Internet security.

In this way, a VPN connection tends to be practically impossible to hack by outside forces.

Encapsulates our internet traffic

Different data on the Internet move-in packets. When we use a VPN, all of our data packets are encapsulated within additional data packets.

Thus, this encapsulation generates a private tunnel within the public networks.

When should we use a VPN network?

Many security specialists advise using a VPN whenever we browse public networks. Although it is also true that it can be useful to use it at home, in the office, when we travel or live in a country with geographical restrictions or on certain mobile devices. In short, whenever we want to browse privately, or mask, protect or falsify our IP address (so that it is not public).

Also Read: What is a VPN? It is finally possible to browse online anonymously!

When we use public networks

If we tend to access the University’s wireless connection or any type of public Wi-Fi network, it is easy for hackers and other entities to see and steal our primary data, even if we use a password.

Therefore, at the very least, it is important to use a VPN network in order to protect our most confidential information, such as logins and passwords.

In addition, this includes any Wi-Fi access point that is public, regardless of where we are: school, library, cafe, hotel or airport (to name just a few simple examples).

Using a VPN at home

In general, our home connection tends to be generally private with controlled access. However, everything we do online, from our searches on search engines such as Google or Bing to the various websites we visit every day, can easily be linked to our IP address.

In most cases, especially for a few years, this information is collected for marketing purposes, to provide us with relevant advertisements based on our tastes.

Precisely, if we don’t like the idea that both search engines and advertisers can follow our every move on the Internet, using a VPN from home is useful to avoid these common attempts to spy on our online activities.

Also Read: The 3 best VPNs to download torrents

In fact, any service that tries to track that activity will only see the private VPN tunnel, not what’s inside it. Thus, we manage to keep our web browsing private, even at home.