VPN equals privacy. Are you having trouble using streaming movie links in your favorite media center software? Maybe you started noticing all the ads you see online are things you’ve searched for, written about, or even talked about on your mobile or in your own home! Google Assistant, Apple Siri, and Amazon Alexa are notorious for their intrusive surveillance without access safeguards put in place.
The corporate government invasion of privacy online is another worldwide epidemic, and the only way to fix it is by using a securely encrypted VPN.
What is VPN?
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is an internet privacy and security service method rapidly growing in popularity as the public recognizes its necessity.
VPNs encrypt then route your internet connection data through a private server. They can hide your identity, location, online activities, and data.
A virtual private network has become a required tool if you value security and privacy. This is due the internet diversifying—growing exponentially into areas of the human psyche most of us would rather avoid.
The activity of corporate control over lawmakers steadily erodes personal freedoms online. If a corporation stops growing, it dies. This requirement eventually leads to profiteering activity, also making the privacy and protection of a secure VPN necessary.
A Simple VPN Explanation
In this article, I’ve attempted to explain what makes a virtual private network the perfect tool for both personal online privacy and freedom of individual expression.
While not all virtual private networks are created equal, I also detail how a trustworthy VPN will protect when you connect.
A virtual private network allows users to privately and securely browse, send, and receive data across the public internet. A private VPN protocol allows safe, secure access to all browsing, streaming, and torrenting content on the web. It does this while it conceals your activity from your ISP (Internet Service Provider), government agencies, identity thieves, and other hackers.
Essentially, a VPN is a private network placed within (tunneled through) a public network in order to securely protect all of your private information including who and where you are and your activity online.
VPNs can seem quite complicated at first, but they’re actually very easy to use.
What is a VPN in Easily Understood Terms?
Explaining how VPNs work to protect privacy by using only technically correct terms usually gets me a lot of blank stares, so I’ve found a way to simplify the explanation.
I’ll describe a virtual private network in terms of you going on a trip to the shopping mall without anyone seeing you, what shops you’re going to, what you purchase, where you came from, or even if you went to the mall at all.
First, let me introduce the basic privacy components of an encrypted tunnel (VPN service).
VPN Components Explained
I like to think of VPN service as two network security tools working together to protect and hide your private data, your location, and your activities from all privacy invasion online. These are each very easy to explain with a few artistic liberties taken.
VPN Client Apps
A VPN service is actually provided by two apps. One, the local client, is installed on your network access device and the other on a remote internet server.
All of your input data and queries sent to the web first go through your locally installed virtual private network client. This includes any URL, login and password, credit card number, or email content along with any and every other information you input.
Your private local VPN connections, whether on a router, Android smartphone, iPhone, computer, tablet, or other internet device will then encrypt this data with the protocol of your choise. Most of the leading VPNs use a 256 bit AES encryption algorithm that the NSA, CIA, FBI, and all other three letter agencies believe is secure enough for top state secrets.
Related: Fastest VPN Protocols Reviewed
Now, your local client sends your private data through the VPN tunnel to a virtual private network using any region you chose.
When the requested data is returned to you, this local application decrypts it and presents it to you. Your local VPN software decrypts this private data and presents it to you as if you were still accessing the web out in the open.
Everything you ask of the web is blurred so much that nobody can see or understand it. Your private information appears as noise to everyone attempting to snoop into your business. Even your internet service provider sees only digital noise.
VPN Remote Servers
The second component of a VPN is the server itself. This secure virtual private network device receives and decrypts your instructions and data.
It then makes direct requests on your behalf, gathering the online resources (websites, movie streams, etc) for you.
When the content is returned from the internet services you made requests of, the VPN encrypts it all and sends it to you. This includes digital streams, banking information, purchase confirmations, incoming email, or even changes made to a game world.
You take on the geo-identity of any VPNs you connect to. Everyone online will think you’re accessing the web from New York in the USA if you choose to connect through a remote VPN in that city. Connect through any country available.
This apparent change of address is also important if you need to appear as a local within or without any particular geographical boundary to access something online with geo-restrictions placed upon it. This is needed to use Netflix, Hotstar, BBC iPlayer, and many other regionally blocked apps.
Check it out: Review of the Best VPN to Watch Netflix from Anywhere
Related review: Watch Hotstar Streams from Outside of India
What About a Proxy Server?
Some of you may recognize that this sounds an awful lot like using a proxy server; you’d be right. The key difference is the virtual private network security software providing real privacy.
You may appear to be from elsewhere, but only if nobody is interested enough in you and what you are doing.
These servers offer a simple redirection but no security protocol beyond that. It’s about as secure as sticking your head in the sand.
Example Using VPN vs Proxy
As a trivial example, imagine you’d like to see your local football heroes take on their rivals in a home game but cannot make it to the stadium.
Most regional teams block or “blackout” access to their home region from watching home games on TV or online. This is designed to make people attend the game in person. A full stadium looks good on camera and fills the coffers.
Some people don’t have the luxury of attending events in person, so along come VPNs to address the problem with the magic of watching online. Someone in another region can enjoy the game without being blocked. Now you also appear to be from elsewhere while using a VPN. Game on!
When using a proxy, your ISP and local government agencies still monitor and record everthing you do online. Whether browsing, streaming, torrenting, or just reading email, nothing is secure or private.
Okay; let’s go through this VPN service explanation with the promised description involving your anonymous trip to the shopping mall.
Encryption Hides Your Data
What this means is that before you leave the house for the mall, the VPN blurs your appearance. You become so blurry that nobody, whether they’re your neighbors, your mom upstairs, or even the CIA spooks in the black van down the street, can see who is leaving.
It’s not possible to tell who you are, what you are wearing, or what (or even if!) you are carrying. Heck, the VPN encryption is so secure they can’t even tell which vehicle you pulled out of the garage, if you’re walking, or if you’re flying a helicopter out of the backyard.
Nobody sees more than a random blur going from your place to the virtual private network server. That is all they see. The important point here is that they only see an ongoing anonymous blur going into the VPN server.
Remote VPN Decrypts Your Data and Hides Your Identity
At this point, you access and pass through the virtual private network server. In our shopping scenario, the VPN remote server looks like a nondescript distribution center in whatever part of the globe from which you choose to apparently be connecting to the web.
Many anonymous people are coming and going through the security doors of this VPN “distribution center.” Once your blurred form enters the server, you vanish entirely.
All anyone knows is that you, somebody else, or even your internet capable alarm clock went somewhere. Nobody can see where you’ve gone. They can’t even see when or if you left the distribution center. Welcome to your private address and virtual identity.
VPNs Gather Resources on Your Behalf
When you make your way to the intended destination, you are wearing your secret identity. This identification is provided by the VPN server. A giant crowd of other people (private network traffic connections) come and go in similar disguises.
You may now visit the mall and make your purchases with nobody knowing who you are or even what country you came from. You appear to be an anonymous entity (that you are a person is not even evident) from wherever you chose to tell the world you are (your chosen VPN tunnel region).
It’s nobody’s business whether you visit the pharmacy for fungal itch medication, access the farmers’ market for locally grown organic rutabagas, or connect with the adult bookstore for a XXX film. The products you buy, choices you make, and judgment of yourself are now yours alone.
VPN Server Encrypts and Returns Gathered Data to You
Once you arrive back at the network distribution center, security once more blurs you beyond recognition to protect your privacy on the return trip to your physical lacale. You fly like the wind through a protected tunnel and arrive safely back at home with your purchases, unseen.
Local VPN Client Decrypts Results
Once more in the protected confines of home, the client protocol returns you to your normal self. Give those rutabegas a good washing before you cook them.
What are the Benefits of Using a VPN?
- All activity on your Android or iPhone mobile, desktop PC running Mac, Linux or Windows operating systems, or other internet devices is encrypted and routed through the remote VPN, where it is concealed from prying eyes.
- VPNs move the geolocation (geographical region) of your computer or device connections by masking your IP address through remote servers.
- Your data is channeled through a separate private network, completely securing and concealing all your data.
VPN technology was developed to allow branch offices and remote employees to securely access corporate resources. Individuals can benefit from protecting their online actions and personal information as much as corporations. Also, internet users may overcome geo-restrictions and censorship with the privacy of VPN security.
How VPN Apps & Servers Work
- All data going out through your Internet connection is encrypted by the VPN protocol on your device. All your ISP or local coffee shop then sees is random noise.
- This data is privately transmitted to a VPN site you choose.
- The apparent origin of your VPN connection then changes by having you connect with a different IP address. Your destination only sees your “new” region.
This makes your access to the internet private & secure.
Why do I Need a VPN?
- Makes all your activity on the web invisible
- Keeps your activity hidden from anyone who might be interested in it
- Fakes your location, enabling you to access geo-blocked content (e.g. on Netflix, HotStar and other sites).
- Allows safe anonymity on the web
- Protects your data when using public WiFi hotspots
Hiding or disguising the IP address of your products connecting to the internet is one of the greatest actions that a VPN provides. Simply said, the location of your computer or device is unknown to others when your VPN is on. This is particularly helpful for those wanting to access geo-restricted content. It also helps greatly to mask your identity.
You may be denied access to content by services like Netflix, Hulu and YouTube based upon your location. VPNs will allow you to view anything you want without limitations.
Many entertainment services such as Kodi and Popcorn Time are banned in the UK and other countries. With a VPN disguising your IP address and data, you can enjoy anything from anywhere you choose.
Other Services VPN Apps & Servers Provide
Some VPN apps and servers add a few extra benefits. Here are some more benefits to using VPNs for security.
- Some VPNs have built-in Ad blockers able to block unwanted and targeted advertisements. You really should be able to connect and surf websites freely without having every action and search you make online tracked and your browsing information sold to marketers.
- A VPN can also change your IP address to a specific location chosen by you. This allows complete freedom from browsing, streaming, and even torrenting censorship among other restrictions based upon your location.
- Most ISP (Internet Service Providers) throttle down your connection to save their bandwidth. This causes buffering on your devices playing media streams. With a VPN, what you do online hidden from your ISP (Internet Service Provider). This means your bandwidth will not be throttled down while streaming media, which makes for a much more enjoyable experience.
- A first-rate VPN provider will not keep logs of who you are or your activity history. Without this type of data being saved, it is nearly impossible for anyone to recover what you have been doing on the internet. When searching for a VPN provider, be sure to find out whether they keep any form of log files and in which countries.
What About a Free VPN?
There are both free and paid VPNs available, but beware the actual price of access. Taking advantage of a VPN from a free provider may have you being taken advantage of and paying in ways you really don’t want. It’s a well-known truth that “if you aren’t paying for it, then you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold.”
When checking available services, keep in mind these no-cost providers have to make money somehow. Research reveals that 38% of these free apps include malware, 84% leak user networks activity and IP address, while 75% use tracking libraries. The time and money invested in building a private, secure VPN are secondary to just paying the bills when users don’t give them money.
How do Free VPN Services Pay Their Expenses?
So-called free VPNs must profit from their users somehow to meet operating costs. You’ll likely notice pop up ads associated with your past searches and social browsing. This is due to VPN providers who say they charge nothing then sell your information to marketing firms. This is just another way these VPNs make rent and utilites.
Even the best free VPN must take care of its bandwidth, electricity, and servers, whether they lease or own. How private could a service be that is selling your data to advertisers? The old adage you get what you pay for stands in security.
When you are in the market for a VPN (Virtual Private Network), zero money required seems like a great idea at first. Just make sure you know exactly what you are getting into. With a paid service, you gain a much faster connection, premium service, and your privacy is secure.
What if My VPN Crashes or Goes Down?
Network kill switches are built into the better VPNs. This is a feature that automatically kills your internet access if the safely encrypted connection should ever drop.
If your VPN doesn’t include a kill switch and a connection issue arises, your device may restore and connect the unprotected IP address which leaves you fully exposed.
Paying for a good VPN isn’t a huge investment. Prices are less than one good cup of coffee each month, making the price of security close to around $6 to $10 USD per month. It’s well worth it to be anonymous and keep yourself safe online.
Are VPNs Legal?
Yes, for the most part. VPNs are totally legal in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the rest of Western Europe. VPNs as a concept are new to most legal systems, so not all network jurisdictions have managed to keep up.
VPNs are illegal in many countries where personal freedoms are considered less important than governmental control. A few of these include China, North Korea, Russia, Belarus, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, and Iraq.
What Should I Look For In A VPN?
What differentiates VPNs from one another? To the casual observer, all VPNs seem quite the same. Only when you look behind the curtain do you realize just how different they all are.
The Most Important VPN Features
You do not want your details being leaked into the open internet. Many VPN services are underdeveloped, with crucial security flaws of this sort.
unlimited download speed
When watching videos, playing online games, or even just browsing websites, you don’t want constant buffering and high lag times. These are associated with your ISP throttling your connection due to poorly managed, zero support VPN services.
If the VPN you sign up for lacks support for the device you access the internet with, what’s the point? The VPN you choose should give connection security to every device you connect to the internet with. Routers are great tools for virtual private networks, giving protection to all devices connected through them.
The user interface should be simply navigated and provide the easiest access to this protection for a wide range of different devices such as Windows, iOS, Linux, Android, Apple, Firestick, Fire TV Cube, etc.
Which VPN Service is Best?
Surfshark VPN servers also provide unlimited bandwidth (lightning quick download speeds!) along with a very easy to use and friendly security interface. Their commitment to customer service seems the best among all the VPN providers we’ve ever tried. Surfshark VPN even allows unlimited devices to be protected on your account at the same time.
With the Surfshark VPN 30-day money-back guarantee, you have nothing to lose. If not fully satisfied with their service, just ask for your money back.
Click here right now to take advantage of the exclusive 83% off discount we worked out for readers of My True Media on Surfshark VPN for October 2019.
Contact us in the comments below if you have any questions. The following FAQ’n’A may help with some of the most basic ones.
Virtual Private Network FAQ’n’A
Consider this the TLDR version.
What is a VPN?
Why use a VPN?
What does a VPN do?
How does a VPN work?
How to get a VPN?
How to Setup a VPN?
- Sign up for your Surfshark VPN account.
- Download and install the Surfshark VPN app.
- Sign into the VPN app with your account details.
- Choose a VPN server from any of over 60 different countries to connect through.
Now, when you do anything online—banking, streaming movies, or even posting on a forum—you appear to be from somewhere else of your choosing. Due to the secure encryption used by Surfshark VPN, even your own Internet service provider can’t see what you are doing online.
What is the best VPN?
VPNs Protect Your Security
Once set up with your own virtual personal network tunnel, speed it up and make it operate as smooth and quick as possible with the help of our Speed Up Your VPN article. Learn all about each different protocol used to mask your location and hide your identity and…