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What is a VPN, how does it work and why do you need it?

A VPN or a Virtual Private Network is how you can get privacy and anonymity online. A VPN creates a private network from a public internet connection, masks your internet protocol (IP) address so as all your online actions are virtually untraceable.
A VPN or a Virtual Private Network is how you can get privacy and anonymity online. A VPN creates a private network from a public internet connection, masks your internet protocol (IP) address so as all your online actions are virtually untraceable. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A VPN basically lets you surf the web securely by creating a private network from a public connection

A VPN or a Virtual Private Network is how you can get privacy and anonymity online. A VPN creates a private network from a public internet connection, masks your internet protocol (IP) address so as all your online actions are virtually untraceable.

Most importantly, VPN services establish secure, encrypted connections that have more privacy than a secured WiFi hotspot.

So now you know WHAT a VPN is, but WHY would you need it?

Fun fact? You can access websites that have been banned in your area by using a VPN.

More practical fact - surfing the web online using an unsecured WiFi network means possibilities of exposing your private information and browsing habits. Think of all the times you logged into a public WiFi at a coffee shop or at a mall. Any WiFi network that is not password protected makes all the data you transmit online, while on it, vulnerable to be seen by anyone else using the same network.

If you are concerned about your online security and privacy, a VPN is the way to go. The anonymity and encryption that a VPN helps protect your online activities. It also helps keep your web browsing anonymous.

HOW does a VPN protect you?

What VPNs basically do is that they create a data tunnel between your local network and an exit node at another place, geographically that could be miles away. With this it makes it seem like you are basically surfing the web from another place. The benefit of something like this is the ability to access apps and sites that might have been blocked in your area.

VPNs use encryption to scramble data when it's sent over a WiFi network. Because it is encrypted, the data is unreadable. Also, without a VPN your internet service provider can know your entire browsing history.

VPN hides your search history since your web activity gets associated with the VPN server's IP address and not yours. Since VPN service providers have servers all over the world, your search history could appear to originate from any of them which basically makes you untraceable and your search history unreadable.

What does a VPN hide?

1. Your browsing history

2. Your IP address and location

3. Your location for streaming

This will enable you to watch content that might be banned in your country or in the country you are travelling to.

4. Your devices

A VPN can help protect your devices, including desktop computer, laptop, tablet, and smart phone.

5. Your web activity — to maintain internet freedom

Hopefully, you're not a candidate for government surveillance, but who knows. Remember, a VPN protects against your internet service provider seeing your browsing history. So you're protected if a government agency asks your internet service provider to supply records of your internet activity.

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