What is a VPN? A virtual private network ( VPN) is a type of network that treats a publicly provided network as a private network.
What are the benefits of a VPN? That is, with a VPN, you can use the Internet with enhanced security and privacy.
In a nutshell, VPN has the following functions:
- Ensure safety when using public Wi-Fi hotspots .
- Hide IP (Internet Protocol) addresses .
- Encrypt Internet traffic for more secure and private browsing .
- Access more Internet content and avoid government censorship and other restrictions .
It also prevents your internet traffic from being tracked and recorded and later sold by your internet service provider (ISP), advertising brokers, snoops and more.
How VPN works
A VPN protects you by encrypting and impersonating your traffic. It also reroutes data packets to one of the VPN servers.
This causes the VPN to change the published IP address to make it appear as if you are browsing from the location of the VPN server rather than from the location of your device.
That’s why you can set up your online location anywhere in the world by using a VPN. This feature greatly improves privacy and is one of the two main reasons why VPNs are convenient. Another reason is security. Next, I would like to introduce security.
How a virtual private network protects traffic
Post office parable:
Imagine a post office that has no way of knowing your name and address. This in-house postal worker sends and receives letters containing only one piece of information about you (customer ID). This ID was created specifically for you by the post office and is kept confidential.
When you receive the letter, the postal worker will use this ID to identify you and hand the mail directly to you. All this process is done through a top secret pipe that connects your home and office.
Similarly, if you ask this courier, you can send a letter to anyone in the world. The courier will receive your letter, attach your customer ID, and ship it with your post office address. As for the recipient, the letter came from the post office, not from you. (Unless you have signed it).
This letter has been translated into words that only you and the postal worker can understand to protect the contents of the mail and your ID. So even if someone gets your email, you can’t read it.
VPN-protected internet connection environment
When you connect to the Internet via a VPN, the VPN establishes a secure virtual tunnel (= secure connection) between itself and a server. This virtual tunnel is used to forward all internet traffic originating from your app or website.
But VPN connections go one step further. To ensure the security of the tunneling process, VPN clients and VPN servers use a shared key (see below for details) to encrypt data (English: scrambled, unbreakable code).
VPN clients and VPN servers do this every time their data goes through an encrypted tunnel. That way, no one can snoop on your traffic. As the data passes, it is reorganized and decrypted into readable text.
In this way, the VPN can ensure that your IP address, location information, and online ID are hidden from Internet service providers and third-party websites.
What is a VPN server?
Well, I’ve talked about VPN servers several times so far, but what is a VPN server in the first place? Is there any difference from a normal server?
Well, there is no particular difference. A VPN server is a standard server configured with VPN software. This will allow only those who have VPN client software to connect.
When you try to connect to a VPN server, you will be asked to authenticate (certify) that you have a VPN client. Once connected, all traffic goes through this server. To the outsider, the random Internet data that goes in and out of the server looks like a mess. Therefore, your whereabouts remain unknown.
So what can you do with a VPN?
Thank you for reading this far. So far, I’ve explained the basics of how a VPN works. Let’s take a look at the complicated and difficult technical aspects!
- Protect you with public WiFi using a VPN
Free public Wi-Fi may be useful on the go. Unfortunately, public Wi-Fi is not secure and is vulnerable to basic cyber attacks. VPN encrypts your online data and protects your personal information when you use Wi-Fi in public places such as airports and coffee shops. Helps hide web activity when you want to access sensitive public information such as online banking, email, and crypto assets.
- Keep browsing history and torrent history private with VPN
Hiding your IP address is an essential part of protecting your privacy online. By using a VPN, you can prevent your personal information from being identified by location information, browsing habits, torrent history, etc. That way, you can use the Internet with peace of mind without being influenced by third parties.
- Unblock websites restricted or censored by VPN
In many countries, regional restrictions and censorship restrict access to various websites. In that case, you can unblock your site by connecting to a VPN server in another country. This allows you to circumvent Internet censorship and various regional restrictions for content, social media, whistleblowers, and even research purposes.
- VPN helps you enjoy Netflix privately
With a VPN, you can stay secure when using Netflix streaming as well as other streaming services such as Hulu, Disney +, and HBO Max. Our ultra-fast servers and unlimited bandwidth ensure a throttle- and buffer-free experience. This keeps you private whenever you stream your favorite shows or movies! Learn more about VPN streaming.
Disclaimer : Surfshark does not recommend using a VPN in any way that may violate the Streaming Service Provider’s Terms of Service .
- Avoid price discrimination with VPN
Websites and services use your location and cookies to adjust prices for goods and services. Virtual private networks can help you avoid these marketing techniques and save you money when shopping online or buying tickets .
Browsing without VPN: Consideration for providing personal data
When using the Internet, data packets are constantly being sent and received. These packets contain your IP address and keep track of information about the start and end points of your IP address.
Without a VPN, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and websites can see where these packets are passing and what data is being sent. This will allow your Internet service provider or website to monitor and record your IP address information for later sale.
Why do companies sell IP address information? That’s because your data is valuable to ad brokers and other service providers because it gives you an idea of your behavioral patterns, such as what you like, your hobbies, and your interests . This information is used to provide the products you are likely to purchase.
In addition, the amount of information collected and stored by these companies has become a privacy issue. Information leaks are constantly occurring, affecting billions of people each year.
What is an IP address and why can others see it?
Internet Protocol (IP) addresses are digital labels that enable communication between networks. IP addresses are identified for some purpose, as follows :
- Host ( you )
- Know where to send information with your location online
This means that if you don’t use a VPN , data packets traveling over the Internet will always show your IP address. IP addresses are displayed on most online services and websites collect your information.
VPN technically accesses the Internet via a VPN server, so it hides IP addresses and location information in the process. And this server will reach you through a trusted tunnel where the information is encrypted.
Can I use the Internet anonymously with a VPN?
No, VPN doesn’t make you anonymous . And don’t believe anyone who says it’s available anonymously.
Don’t get me wrong, anonymity on the Internet is an illusion. that’s right. There is really no way to stay anonymous on the Internet.
However, VPNs greatly improve your online privacy. Here, we will explain what VPN can and cannot do in a table.
In other words, carelessness does not go away. A VPN helps prevent you from being tracked, but it doesn’t help if you publish your information on the Internet. Therefore, please be careful when disclosing personal information.
What is cryptography and how does it work?
Illustrated illustration of the encryption process.
I’ve already touched on encryption several times, but let me show you how it works.
Encryption is what the VPN uses to encrypt and protect your data. Encrypted messages look completely meaningless to others unless you have a shared key .
The VPN client and server generate and exchange this key on the first VPN connection.
Each time the data passes through an encrypted tunnel, the data is scrambled and later scrambled using this key.
So what is the power of encryption? The power of encryption depends on what encryption algorithm you use and the VPN protocol you combine with it (discussed below).
AES 256bit encryption is said to be the best encryption algorithm used by reliable VPN service providers such as the US government and NSA, and Surfshark also uses this encryption.
So how secure is a VPN with cryptography?
In a nutshell – very safe.
In the long run – it will be more interesting.
Most security measures use a tedious process to ensure that security is not compromised. For example, trying to decipher an encrypted session with a “brute force” that guesses the correct key can take up to trillions of years ( depending on the computer you use) .
Also, even if someone breaks the code, many VPN providers like Surfshark implement what is called PFS (Perfect Forward Secrecy). This means that the VPN client will generate a new key at regular intervals (about 7 minutes).
With PFS installed, even if an encrypted session is decrypted, only the activity that occurred in that 7 minutes is known. After the new key is generated, it will need to be decrypted again.
That is, scammers and hackers do not bother to crack encrypted connections. Rather, it targets users who use the Internet or public Wi-Fi hotspots and do not protect their information.
Protocols are important for VPN security. The protocol allows you to connect to a VPN server. This is a set of rules that determine the behavior of a VPN connection from start to finish.
Unlike what is commonly said, the VPN protocol does not have a significant impact on connection speed, stability or security . However, protocols are useful in a variety of situations, with different devices performing differently. Here, we will introduce some of the protocols.
OpenVPN is an open VPN protocol. It is fast, secure and compatible with many routers. Due to its open nature, the code has been thoroughly investigated by cybersecurity experts around the world. In general, the performance is inferior to IKEV2 and WireGuard.
Available dates: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, BSD.
WireGuard ® is a relatively new protocol created to outperform OpenVPN and IPSec with power usage and performance with just 4,000 lines of code.
Available dates: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, etc.
- IKEv2 / IPSec
Internet Key Exchange version 2 (IKEv2) is of the same quality as WireGuard. It is popular with mobile users because it offers faster speeds than other protocols when switching networks or connecting over short distances.
Available dates: macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, Blackberry, Unix, etc.
- PPTP and LT2P / IPSec
Both are outdated tunneling protocols and are highly recommended to be avoided. It’s fast, but it can’t provide the security and reliability of OpenVPN, IKEv2, and WireGuard.
Available dates: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS.
SSTP is a tunneling protocol , not a VPN protocol , and does not provide OpenVPN, IKEv2, or WireGuard functionality. Although considered relatively safe and easy to use, the code has never been audited and has problems running on other operating systems such as Mac OS.
Available dates: Windows, Linux, BSD.
Shadowsocks is a tunneling proxy , not a VPN protocol . However, it can be run as a protocol on the VPN client. It was created solely to bypass China’s Great Firewall. It is fast, hard to detect, and can be used to avoid government censorship.
Available dates: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux.
How to choose a VPN service
Let’s say you need a VPN, even if the introductions you’ve made so far have hit your heart (it’s a writer’s dream).
Still, there are important points to consider before choosing a VPN service provider.
- Server coverage . A strong VPN provider should cover VPN servers around the world. This allows you to choose from more locations and reduce the load on your server.
- VPN encryption . A secure VPN encryption algorithm is a must. Make sure you are using the current industry standard AES-256 encryption.
- Server load . If you don’t have enough servers to balance your load, your connection will slow down and slow down.
- VPN protocol . Protocols are indispensable for VPN security, and you can use different protocols according to your preference. We recommend using services that provide OpenVPN, IKEv2, and WireGuard.
- Multi-hop is a VPN function that directs traffic through multiple servers at the same time. This is not required, but it can further enhance online security.
- Obfuscated VPN server . A VPN server can make your traffic look like normal internet traffic when you use an obfuscation (the term obfuscate) server. This allows you to circumvent VPN blockers and avoid restrictions imposed by your Internet provider.
- Device compatible . Before you buy a VPN, make sure it’s compatible with the device you want to secure. In rare cases, it may not be compatible with your device.
- RAM-only servers are becoming a staple of all VPN services. When running in RAM, the data will be erased automatically when you turn off the server.
VPN setting method
Setting up a VPN is very easy. We recommend downloading the native app, but if you are familiar with the technology, you can set it manually.
For a more detailed guide, see the clause on how to set up a VPN on any device .
What is a No Log or No Log VPN?
No log is the handling of your personal information without leaving any logs or records of your online activity.
In short, Nolog VPN does not collect the following information about your internet activity :
- IP address
- Network traffic
- Browsing history
- Bandwidth usage
- Connection time and duration
- Session information
This ensures the security of your online connection and gives you peace of mind when using the Internet.
Also, in order to enjoy the Internet with peace of mind, it is necessary to acquire the knowledge to protect the privacy on the Internet with your own hands.
Surfshark is a full-featured VPN featured in this article and is committed to providing the best user experience.
And if you want to know more about virtual private networks, security, and privacy, check out our cybersecurity-related content blog.
Supported devices always depend on the VPN provider. Surfshark is compatible with most computers and mobile devices, smart TVs and console apps and plugins.
In a nutshell, the answer is yes – VPNs are legal in most countries. However, it is against the law to commit illegal acts using a VPN.
Some countries prohibit the use of VPNs for political and legislative purposes, such as controlling Internet access and hindering freedom of speech. However, the use of VPN is not prohibited in most countries.
Read more about VPN legality and a list of countries that prohibit or limit the use of VPNs .
A VPN browser is a web browser with a built-in VPN protocol that protects your browser resources. Not all browsers advertised as VPN browsers are actually his VPN browsers. Some are just privacy browsers. Here are some VPN browsers you may have heard of.
Opera, one of the winners in the browser market, certainly comes with a VPN plug-in. Of course, like any other browser-based VPN, it just protects browser traffic.
Epic is a privacy-focused browser that saves very little data and deletes everything when you quit the browser. This time, the VPN function is installed.
It’s not a VPN browser, but its privacy usage is similar. You need a Tor browser to access the Tor network. It doesn’t have a VPN feature, but instead uses Tor Network to ensure privacy.
Brave is a Chromium-based browser with a VPN offered as a premium feature (only available to iOS users). Therefore, its appeal is not universal.
The UR Browser is a Chromium-based privacy browser created by AdaptiveBee. Although it claims to offer VPN capabilities, some online security experts claim that VPNs in UR browsers were previously just unencrypted proxies .
Orfox was a Tor-based browser for Android. was. The project was aborted when the Tor project released the Tor browser for Android.
In some cases, if you are streaming or downloading something, your ISP may throttle, or slow down, your internet connection . This is to save bandwidth and distribute it to Internet users. However, VPNs hide traffic, so IPS cannot get the information it needs to slow down the line.
However, in most other cases, the VPN takes an additional process to make the connection, so the connection will not be faster. By default, long hours of processing can slow down your connection, but it’s not a concern.
A VPN uses a server to distribute your information. Thousands of servers are scattered around the world and are expensive to install and maintain. You also have to pay for the developers and everyone else who works to keep the VPN working.
In other words, there is no free VPN. Because there is no VPN service that can be maintained for free. It’s a question of where the VPN service gets its money. There are three main ways to raise funds:
- Subscription settings
- Displaying advertisements to users
- Collecting and selling user information
Often, “free” VPNs do 2 and 3 at the same time. Therefore, be careful when choosing a VPN service provider.
yes. Ideally, you should always use a VPN . Cybersecurity threats are far more accessible than commonly thought.
With a VPN, you can always protect your device, network traffic, and browsing activity.