WHAT IS A VPN? - A quick guide
Browse anonymously, increase your online security and protect your privacy.
OK, the first think most basic users will ask is what is a “VPN”? We will try and explain as simply as possible as, if you understand what it is, the chances are you may give it a try and help protect your privacy and increase security, especially when we all know how governments and businesses are constantly tracking our movements on the internet and invading our privacy. Being anonymous has to be one of the main advantages.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a private network that uses a public network (usually the Internet) to connect user’s computers, tablets and the like together. It enables a computer to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if it were directly connected to the private network, while benefiting from the functionality, security and management policies of the private network.
Individuals can use these VPNs to gain access to network resources when they are not physically on the same local area network (LAN), for instance, if you are abroad on business, or on holiday and wanted to watch something on BBC iPlayer you could appear to be in the UK through a VPN and watch it. Without a VPN you wouldn’t be able to because of the restrictions of BBC iPlayer only being for UK residents. A VPN is a great method for securing and encrypting communications on an untrusted public network as to use a VPN you will usually launch a VPN client on your computer, or Log In on a website with your username and password and then be authenticated, after that all your communications are encrypted and secured.
Consumer VPN Services
Consumers use a private VPN service, also known as a VPN tunnel, to protect their online activity and identity. By using an anonymous VPN service, a user's Internet traffic and data remain encrypted, which prevents eavesdroppers from sniffing Internet activity. A VPN service is especially useful when accessing public Wi-Fi hotspots because the public wireless services might not be secure. In addition to public Wi-Fi security, a private VPN service also provides consumers with uncensored Internet access and can help prevent data theft and unblock websites.
VPN User Categories
Users will mainly fall into one of the categories below.
Privacy and security user – These users like to keep their communications and browsing habits to themselves without sharing everything with the world. They do not want prying eyes tracking their every move.
Workers and Students – These users use educational or business VPNs to access resources when they are at home or travelling. This has the advantage that a VPN is already in place and there is no need to research one.
The downloader – These users will use a VPN to download legally, and in some cases illegally. They don’t want to be tracked while doing so. In most cases if you download via a torrent program your ISP (Internet Service Provider) will slow down your internet connection, this is known as ISP Throttling. Downloaders will use a VPN so that their ISP`s cant track that they are using a torrent program.
The first thing you should do when signing up to a VPN provider is to read the privacy and logging policy of the User Agreement slowly and thoroughly, and read it again to make sure of the details. You need to make sure that no logs are kept of the user’s activity. You should also check what their policy is on sharing information with third parties.
These agreements are not all the same, or as straightforward as they appear and in some cases can be misleading.
Lastly, users are still signing up for a VPN service – which is a good start to your privacy and anonymity – but sign up for a service that doesn’t take privacy seriously and keeps logs – which is bad. Many VPN services do keep some type of logs of all activity and will easily offer it to those that ask. This means you may have just not bothered using a VPN in the first place.