What is a VPN? - VPNoverview

What is a VPN?

A VPN creates a secure connection

A Virtual private network (VPN for short) is a private network via a public network, like the internet. A VPN allows a user’s internet traffic to be redirected through a different server with the use of a secured connection. This makes it seem as if the user is located at the same location as the server. So if you are located in Amsterdam and you make a connection with a VPN server in New York, your internet traffic will be redirected through New York. You won’t notice any difference, but it has lots of advantages which we will explain in this article. In practice using a VPN will mean that your internet traffic will become encrypted and your location and identity will be hidden.

Become anonymous by using a VPN

By using a VPN your online identity is hidden. The computers/servers (for example; websites, chatroom and download programs) think that you are the VPN server yourself. This ensures that your IP address is hidden (the IP address changes to the IP address of the VPN server) and this also changes your digital location. To bring back the example of the VPN server in New York; every website you visit shall think that you are located in New York, because they will register your new IP address (that of the VPN server). Your real IP address and location will remain hidden.

What is a VPN connection?

Safer browsing using a VPN

All internet traffic between your computer (laptop, tablet or smartphone) and the VPN server will become heavily encrypted. This prevents other parties, such as; hackers and governments, from secretly tracking your internet data. This allows you to safely and securely surf the web wherever you are, you no longer need to worry about unsecure public WiFi-hotspots at airports and in cafes. Because of the encryption of the VPN nobody can hack into your connection. There are many reasons why people use a VPN. A few examples:

  • To protect their internet connection from hackers and eavesdropping governments.
  • To make online activities anonymous by encrypting the data traffic and hiding the user’s location.
  • To download anonymously without the risk of claims.
  • To access certain websites/services that are normally only available for specific countries (such as watching the American version of Netflix outside of the US, or watching BBC iPlayer outside of the UK)
  • To bypass geographical restrictions set up by, among others, Youtube and Netflix
  • To bypass local censorship, particularly in countries with dictatorial regimes, such as Turkey, China and North Korea.

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