While understanding the principles of a VPN might require tons of research and tech knowledge, in this article I will answer the questions as if I do to my mom.
Why people use a VPN?
Not a decade ago, VPNs were something only tech-savvy geeks used and understood, but now they’ve been coming down to everyday life. They’re becoming essential for online security, accessing entertainment (like various streaming services) and turning into a reliable travel companion.
Actually, according to the polls, 35% desktop, 42% mobile VPN clients use it every day, and the primary reason is accessing better content, social networks, and news services.
What does a VPN do?
A VPN, or a Virtual Private Network, like Surfshark, is a tool to secure your online activities, enhance your privacy and avoid cyber threats while enjoying the free and open internet.
Basically, VPN helps you to:
- Keep your digital identity & sensitive data (passwords, bank account details, etc.) secure
- Protect your privacy
- Access free and open internet
What a VPN doesn’t do
However, while VPNs are robust shields against various security threats, they don’t guarantee complete anonymity.
Indeed, ‘anonymity’ is a powerful selling point, but in reality, the truth about staying anonymous online is far more complicated, or rather impossible.
Moreover, no online privacy tool can help people who will spread their personal information in all directions online. As experts recommend, don’t post things online you wouldn’t shout out in the room full of strangers.
How does a VPN work?
When you connect to the internet, your request goes through your ISP, which redirects you to any website you intend to visit. Any device connected to your ISP has a unique series of numbers known as an IP address.
When you use a VPN, network traffic between your device and a VPN server is directed through a secure virtual tunnel, where the sent and received data is encrypted.
ISPs or third-party snoopers can use your IP address to track all your online activities and see which device has accessed which website and where.
Who can track you?
The list of potential trackers and spies goes on and on. Starting with your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to anyone with some IT knowledge.
Unfortunately, even if you don’t think you’re being tracked online, you are.
Although some of the ISPs claim to value their customers’ privacy, legal restrictions to do so are vague. Thus, ISP, governments, hackers, NSA spies, internet companies (like Facebook, Google) can monitor your accessed websites, downloaded files, what apps you use, etc.
Why do they track you?
To steal or monetize your data. Snoopers can come:
- After your sensitive information (like passwords, bank account details, etc.)
- Collect everything about your online behavior to monetize it. Then, sell it to the third parties which tailor their content and push it accordingly
- Block, censor or manipulate content. For example, after repealing net neutrality in the US, this will be easier than ever.
Maybe not too many people know, but data has real value. Although the numbers differ, on average, a person’s data is worth about 240 dollars per year.
But do they really track you? You don’t do anything illegal…
It’s a widespread misconception. Sometimes internet users think that ISPs or third parties track only important people or criminals (like terrorists).
Recent scandals with Yahoo, Facebook, Uber or other tech giants just proved how vulnerable to data breaches average internet users are and that sometimes companies don’t even have to try that hard to access personal information.
Have more questions? Feel free to ask anything about VPNs in the comment section below!