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What is VPN, what does VPN do, why should I use one and other questions answered

A VPN connection brings in a lot of benefits related to data security, privacy, and also accessing geo-blocked content. Here's everything you need to know about VPN

June 05, 2020 / 02:30 PM IST
Representative image

Representative image

Virtual Private Network, or what is popularly known as VPN, is a term that you might have come across often while surfing the internet or even when working out of home in these COVID-19 times. The use of VPN has become quite popular these days owing to the multiple risks and restrictions levied upon internet users.

But what exactly is a VPN? Is it safer? Why should you use it? Read on to get answers to all your questions about VPN.

VPNs were initially developed for corporate networks to securely access and transfer data between the servers and a remote system. However, as people became increasingly concerned about their privacy on the internet, the use of VPN expanded to the general public.

VPN basically encrypts the data and adds a layer of security to your existing network. It acts as a secure tunnel between you and your network, and all the data that is being accessed is routed through this virtual tunnel, keeping it secure and private. 

Simply put, VPN is a virtual network that keeps you private on the internet without revealing your exact location.


So how does a VPN connection spoof your location? 

When you are using a VPN service, the data is routed via a secure, encrypted connection to the VPN server by masking your IP address. So even if someone is tracking your location, they can be easily spoofed as the location seems to be appearing from a remote server. Keep in mind that VPN servers are remotely located across states and countries. When you put forward a request to a website, the VPN acts as a reliable middleman and forwards it to the website without revealing your identity. It also sends you a response from the website in the same manner.

So for example, even if you are sitting at your home or office cubicle in Mumbai or Delhi, the VPN connection will show that you are accessing the web from New York, Toronto, London, or Melbourne. 

Why should you use a VPN connection and is it safe?

The whole purpose of using a VPN is to keep you and your data safe from the prying eyes of the hackers waiting to hack your data using various tools and malicious attacks. A VPN uses various levels of encryptions ensuring that your data is safe from such virtual attackers. There are various kinds of encryption levels and the higher the bit encryption rate, the more secure the data is. However, even if you opt for lower encryption, it is still better to have some sort of VPN connection than nothing that all.

Another benefit of using a VPN is accessing websites or services are have been blocked by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or is simply not available in the country. Since the VPN server acts as your virtual location, you can access any website that is available in that particular region. 

VPN also helps you keep your data and device safe from accessing public Wi-Fi. When you browse a particular website that has a less-secure HTTP application protocol and not HTTPS, VPN’s encryption tools help keep the data safe and also protect your identity while hiding your location.

VPN is accessible on desktops, laptops, mobiles and tablets. There are a ton of VPN services available out there — some of them are free but show ads while the rest charge a sum depending upon the level of the secure connection. 

Also, keep in mind that VPN is not fool-proof. Although difficult, there is a slight chance that hackers might breakthrough, despite the VPN using various encryption tools and methods to protect your data.

Another thing to note that VPN connections are on the expensive side starting at roughly $8 a month and go up to $15. However, in exchange, you get to keep your data secured and private.

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Pranav Hegde
first published: Jun 5, 2020 02:23 pm
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