What Does a VPN Hide? (And What It Doesn’t)
Before the advent of the internet, it took quite some effort to get to know what people are up to behind closed doors. It required a level of commitment to stick with someone for as long as you need to and get the information that you want. Back then, as long as there are no humans there physically, there was nothing to worry about. You could go about your daily business without fear hanging over you that someone might be watching or listening to you.
However, since the dawn of IP addresses and ISPs alongside every other portion that makes up the internet, that feeling of safety is gone. People can now listen in on your conversations or track your activities from a continent away. What is even more disturbing is that they can do all of this as though they were sitting right next to you.
That this is a real problem is a fact which goes without saying. However, there is always a solution, and it comes in three concise words – Virtual Private Network. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a service rendered by different companies across different countries in the world. It is, as implied, a network that allows you to use the internet privately. You would not have to worry about people spying on you or watching what you do. The service hides your footprints and footsteps across the internet.
What exactly does a VPN hide?
Now, if you are not very familiar with how a VPN functions, you might not fully understand what it can offer you in terms of privacy. There are several things involved in your activities on the internet that can be tracked by third parties. Thankfully, a good VPN can hide pretty much all of them from prying eyes. To be a little bit more specific, here are a few things that a Virtual Private Network can hide for you to guarantee your privacy on the internet:
1. Your Internet Protocol (IP) Address:
Your Internet Protocol address is a set of numbers assigned to your device. It represents your device’s distinct address online. It can be said to be the equivalent of a physical house address. This set of numbers is so essential that pretty much every other point here is tied to it in one way or the other. Almost all your activities on the web can link back to your Internet Protocol address in a bid to track you and your virtual footprints. A Virtual Private Network helps you by masking that IP address or changing it completely. Some VPNs have as many as 300,000 different IP addresses to replace the original one. This is so that curious eyes would not be able to see you or get to you easily.
Now, it might be a bit useful to go incognito on your browser. The Incognito Mode, on most browsers, offers a bit of protection. However, your ISP (Internet Service Provider) can still see whatever it is that you are doing on the internet and trackback to you. The best way to indeed go incognito is by using a Virtual Private Network. That way, you can be sure that your IP address is hidden and nobody is looking in your closet.
2. Your Current Location:
One of the things that an IP address does is that it reveals where you are physically. There is quite a bit of technicality that goes into this. We would not want to bore you with that. However, the fact remains that your location is trackable. With a good Virtual Private Network, you can change your Internet Protocol address. This would make you appear as though you are in a different area. This is useful if you would rather not have people knowing exactly where you are at any point in time. In addition to this, it would help you bypass geo-restrictions.
A geo-restriction is a ban of sorts that is on certain parts of the internet. Essentially, when you try to do something online, your device requests permission to access that part of the internet from the server. If the site is geo-restricted, the server will obtain your location. If you are not within the approved area, you would be prevented from entering the website or redirected to another. By hiding or changing your current location, a VPN would help you gain access to these sites. That way, you can experience true internet freedom.
3. Your Internet History:
At this point, you might be wondering why you would need to get a VPN to cover your internet tracks when you can just clear your surfing history, cookies, and caches. Well, as much as you think your privacy is guaranteed with that, it isn’t. This is so because anyone who has just enough knowledge about tech can easily take a look into what you are doing even if you have cleared your history. “Anyone” includes Internet Service Providers, nosy marketers, among others.
It is particularly easy because, as we said earlier, almost everything you are doing on the internet can be traced back to you. By changing or encrypting your Internet Protocol address, a Virtual Private Network helps you to cover your internet history indeed.
4. Your Social Media Identity:
Social media today has grown beyond just an avenue for checking up on your loved ones or finding out if he/she is “up.” It has become a channel through which the people truly have a voice and can speak up against things that should not be the way they are. However, the physical world itself is not very safe. We would be lying to ourselves if we say that it is. Now and then, you would need to keep your comments anonymous. Please keep in mind that this is just one of the numerous reasons you could want to go anonymous online. We understand that not everyone is a human rights activist. Regardless, when you need to hide your identity online, it would take more than just a smart pseudonym for you to do so.
If you put “World Best Human” instead of your real name in the comment section, you have not hidden anything. The admin of the site would still be able to find out your identity very easily. However, with a Virtual Private Network, you can hide your identity by changing your IP address, even on your phone. It would be a lot more difficult for the admin to track you or identify you with an encrypted IP address.
What else can you use a VPN for?
Indeed, a Virtual Private Network is useful for hiding your footsteps on the internet, among other things. However, its capabilities do not end there. Apart from keeping your activities to yourself, it helps you to boost your security online. An excellent example to illustrate this is free public Wi-Fi spots.
In several places in the world, there are spots where you have free internet. All you have to do is enter your details. These details often include your email address. Sometimes, these addresses, alongside other details, are compiled into huge lists. These lists are then monitored by different bodies around the world to suit whatever purpose they have in mind. These purposes might not always be friendly to you. By encrypting your data and tunneling your device, a Virtual Private Network would help you keep your details away from third parties. In doing so, it helps prevent whatever online dangers you might have been exposed to if you did not use a VPN.
Apart from providing security, it helps you bypass restrictions. Earlier, we mentioned geo-restrictions. A geo-restriction, again, prevents you from accessing parts of the internet that you might want you to use. It places a blockade on the extent to which you can truly be free on the internet. A good Virtual Private Network can easily help you bypass that restriction. That way, you would be able to access whatever it is that you want. From streaming services like Hulu and Netflix to social networks around the world, everywhere indeed is your global village.
What are the best VPNs to use for all these right now?
A Virtual Private Network is a service. As such, numerous companies around the world offer it. Some make those services free, and some charge a reasonable amount of money for you to use it. It is worthy of note that paid Virtual Private Networks are better than the free ones. However, even among the paid services, some are better than others. Here are the three leading VPNs in the Internet Privacy/Security industry right now:
- Number of servers: More than 3,000
- Speeds: Unlimited
- Server locations: 160 in 94 countries
- Maximum devices supported: 5
- 24 live chat: Yes
- 30 day money back guarantee: Yes
- Fastest VPN out there
- Strict no logs policy
- 256-bit AES encryption
- Few discounts
This Virtual Private Network comes at the top of almost every list of VPNs. It has over 3000 servers across 94 different countries in the world. This gives you an extensive range of options to choose from, mainly because of how widely dispersed they are. It is known for its incredible speeds that often go above 100mbps. It allows you to test out its services without any risk whatsoever for thirty days. That is, after you subscribe, if you aren’t satisfied within the first thirty days, you can request a refund, and it would be given to you.
- Pros: Fastest VPN out there; Strict no logs policy; 256-bit AES encryption;
- Lowest price: $6.67
- Cryptocurrency accepted? Yes
- Simultaneous connections: 6
- Dedicated IP-addresses? Yes
- Servers: 5342 in 58 countries
- Lots of pricing options
- Netflix support kept up to date
- 256-bit AES encryption
- Slow app
The second on our list is NordVPN. With over 5200 servers spread across 59+ countries in the world, it is no wonder that it made our number two. This VPN is also incredibly fast and affordable as well. Its subscription plans get cheaper as you commit to longer durations. In addition to these, it provides you with a thirty-day money-back guarantee. This allows you to get back your money if you are not satisfied with its services in thirty days.
- Pros: Lots of pricing options; Netflix support kept up to date; 256-bit AES encryption;
- Lowest price: $3.71
The internet today is fraught with danger. It sounds paranoid, but there is always one person or the other looking to get a share of what you are doing online. Some do not know how to, and some are well equipped to do it. What we have done is show you the things that a VPN can hide for you. Hopefully, now, you would see the need for it. Alongside that, we hope you would not waste too much time investing a bit of cash in one of the three mentioned.