How does a VPN Protect Me?
Updated: April 3, 2016
There are a number of different ways in which a VPN can protect you. The two key ones are that it provides an encrypted pathway to the internet ensuring that none of your incoming or outgoing data can be easily read by snooping eyes. It also changes your IP Address, meaning that you are to all intents and purposes surfing the web anonymously.
There are various different ways in which your VPN can protect you online. It is not for no reason that VPN use is growing increasingly common as more and more people become away of the various threats they are exposing themselves to on the internet, and the number of people there are out there who are interested in what you are doing online.
It should of course be noted that each different VPN provider operates in different ways and no two are exactly alike, so whilst the ore protections a VPN can offer are available from all of them, they are likely to work in different ways, and be subject to different terms and conditions.
It is therefore highly advisable to read through our comprehensive reviews to find out the details of your chosen VPN provider before you sign on the dotted line.
But broadly speaking, these are the key ways in which a VPN can protect you:
All VPNs will encrypt all traffic heading from your device to the internet or vice-versa. Why is this a good thing? Well if data is encrypted, that makes it much harder for a hacker, or a surveillance team from seeing what you are up to online.
Encryption is a huge political issue at the moment, with security agencies lobbying hard to force tech companies to put backdoors into their software to allow them to access content when necessary. Their panic shows just how effective encryption can be at keeping your online activity secure and private. Little wonder there is such demand for it at the moment.
But not all VPNs will encrypt your data in the same way. There are various different types of security protocols they use and it’s only fair to say that some of these are more effective than others.
This is too complex an issue to go into here, but suffice to say it is worth looking into the type of encryption your VPN provider offers and making sure it meets your requirements before signing on the dotted lines. Our VPN reviews have all the information you will need.
Different IP Address
A VPN will also equip you with a new IP Address. An IP Address is a piece of data you share with every website you visit. It tells them various things about you including where in the world you are located. This means that the site knows where you are and what you are interested, which is data they can exploit commercially, or even criminally.
Changing your VPN removes any risks you might face by exposing your IP Address. It works very simply. A VPN reroutes your online activity via an external server. The connection between you and that server is encrypted meaning the sites you visit cannot see it.
Therefore, the sites you visit can only see the IP Address of the VPN server you are using, which means they have no way of linking you with your online activity. This facet of a VPN is great for watching geo-blocked streaming services or getting around government censorship of the internet, and is a popular reason why many people sign up for a VPN in the first place.
Many people desire to be totally anonymous online, and some VPNs can offer you that. Changing your IP Address makes this a possibility, but it is then all down to your VPN provider and how privacy-conscious they are.
Some VPNs will keep records, or logs, of all your online activity. This might be for their own usage, to sell commercially, or to keep in line with the local legal requirements wherever in the world they are based.
If you sign up with one of these VPNs, there is always a risk that information about your online activity could get out. Law Enforcement could request the information, and if it is there the VPN provider is likely to be obliged to hand it over.
Equally, the VPN itself could fall victim to a hacking and lose the data. Essentially, if there is a log being kept, you cannot be sure of being 100% anonymous.
But there are no a growing number of VPNs who are offering a verifiable no-logs policy, meaning they keep absolutely zero information about your online activity. For example, we wrote recently about the FBI trying to gain logs on the activity of a Private Internet Access user. They drew a blank showing that PIA genuinely does keep no logs. Similar verifiable claims are made by other VPN providers such as NordVPN and IPVanish.
If your VPN provider claims to keep no logs, and you can find evidence to support this claim, they you genuinely can be 100% anonymous online all the time.
There are various ways a VPN protects you online. In this article I have explained the three most well-known and popular forms of protection, but reading further through this site will show you there are many more ways as well.
Whichever one appeals most to you, there is little doubt that VPN users are infinitely more secure than those who continue to leave themselves vulnerable to attacks and spying.