What does a VPN do? You probably have heard about VPN and its function, but you don’t really understand what does a VPN do in the overall concept. If you spend quite a lot of time in front of your computer and do online activities, you need to have an extra layer of online protection too.
On this article, we are going to discuss what does a VPN do and how it can protect your online privacy, including how it works and its overall benefits.
What is a VPN?
VPN is short for Virtual Private Network. It is able to establish a network connection that is fully protected and safe. This kind of safe network connection is crucial when you have to use public connection.
You see, the VPN would encrypt the internet traffic which will disguise and hide your online existence (and identity). As a result, any third party would not be able to track your online activities.
They won’t be able to monitor your data or even steal it. What’s important is that the encryption process will be implemented in a real time manner, so your online activities will remain protected all of the times. You can find more about VPN at this link : What Is a VPN, How to Benefit and How To Choose The Best One.
VPN and How it Works
So, what does a VPN do? In short, the VPN will hide your IP address. The VPN (as a host) has a remote server (which has been specially configured) and it lets the network redirects it.
Whenever you surf or browse online with the VPN, its server will become your data’s source. Thanks to this mechanism, your ISP (Internet Service Provider), as well as other third parties, won’t be able to see which sites you have visited. They won’t be able to see what data you have received or sent online either.
Think of a VPN like this: a VPN is basically an online filter that will turn all data into gibberish (nonsense or meaningless). So, even if they manage to get your data, they won’t be able to understand any of it. your data will end up being useless.
Technically speaking, what does a VPN do? It creates a tunnel through advanced encryption protocols so your internet traffic can be protected and safe.
The VPN will make the connection private, between the server and your computer. Without it, your traffic would be exposed to almost everyone: the advertisers, the government, people within your network, and also your ISP. This is one of the reasons why VPN will boost security and privacy online.
How does it work behind the curtain.
- You will have to download the software to the device. You don’t need to do anything else. Simply download and let it do all of the work. As the owner of the device, you have to log into it and then connect.
- Whenever you make a connection to a VPN, the service will authenticate you with the (VPN) server.
- The server will then apply an advanced encryption protocol. It applies to all data you receive and also send
- The service will then create a private and encrypted tunnel on the internet. This tunnel will protect your data which travels between yourself and the destination.
- The VPN will wrap it within an outer packet to make sure that every data packet will stay safe and secure. An outer packet is encrypted through encapsulation.
- This is the core basic element of VPN tunnel, which will keep the data secured and safe during the transfer.
- After the data has arrived at the server, a decryption process will then remove the outer packet.
In a general scheme, the data from the user will go through the ISP before it reaches the VPN server. From the server, it reaches the internet. The mechanism will apply back and forth.
In the real application, the overall process is more complicated and complex. The technology itself is pretty difficult. In general, you should be able to set the VPN up on your Apple device, Android phone, and PC.
The General Benefits
After you have understood of what does a VPN do, now it’s time to learn about the benefits.
- It provides safe encryption. To read data, you must use the so-called encryption key. Without it, you won’t be able to read data or make use of it. Well, the VPN will hide your online activities, so hackers or people with malicious intention won’t be able to access your data.
- It disguises and hides your traffic as well as your online footprint. Through encryption, no one would be able to view your network access. After all, how can you find something if you can’t find it?
- It gives you access to regional and blocked contents. You can’t always access the regional web contents
- Safe data transfer. When you have to work in a remote manner, it’s likely that you will have to deal with sending and receiving data. If you want to keep everything safe, you will a safe connection. You need a VPN service to prevent data leakage and other people snooping into your data and online activities.
Different Types of VPN
There are actually different types of VPN out there, along with their own mechanism of what does a VPN do. However, there are some popular ones that are typically used by most people.
- SSL VPN. Whereas a VPN will connect hosts to a safe private network, the SSL VPN will connect the application session (of the user) to services within a protected network. This type of VPN is often used by companies and their employees. Especially after the pandemic, where companies can’t provide enough equipment (for the employees), they encourage their employees to use a private device through a hardware box. The pre-requisite may include a browser that is capable of HTML-5 so they can call the login page up. Users typically have to use password and also username for access.
- Site to site VPN. This would be a private network that can hide (private) intranets. Users from these networks should be able to access one another’s resources. This VPN is handy when you have several locations within your business (or company) and each of them has its own LAN (Local Area Network) that is connected to the Wide Area Network (WAN). It is also handy when you have two different and separate intranets. These intranets won’t be able to access each other, providing a total private application between them. This one is often implemented in big companies, so they are more complex and they aren’t as flexible as the SSL. However, this one offers safe and effective privacy and communication between the departments.
- Client to server VPN. This is an alternative option if you connect the home PC to your company by using the extension cable. The employees can gain access to the company’s network, even from their home office. It gives them the feel as if they were working from the office. However, you must install and then configure the VPN client first.
Installing the VPN
On the contrary to what people believe, there are different implementation and installation methods for different usages. All VPN offer the same function, but the installation would be different, depending on the devices and the system.
- VPN client. You need to install the software for a standalone VPN client. What does a VPN do? Well, when you set the VPN up, the endpoint would execute the link and connect to other endpoints. It will create an encryption tunnel. The step typically needs password in companies. By using a certificate or password, the firewall will know that you are trying to make an authorized connection, especially if you use the assigned password.
- Browser extensions. You can add such VPN extensions to most browsers, like Firefox or Google Chrome or even Opera. However, the (VPN) connection would be valid only for info shared within the browser. Let’s say that you install the extension in your Google Chrome, but not in Internet Explorer, and then you use the Internet Explorer. Then the VPN wouldn’t be able to encrypt your data in Internet Explorer.
- Router VPN. This system is implemented when several devices are being connected to one internet connection. It is easier to apply the VPN to the router instead of installing it to different VPN for each device. Moreover, it is handy to protect devices that aren’t easy to manage and configure, like the smart TV. Such VPN is pretty straightforward to install. It will prevent the network from being infiltrated or compromised. It also provides privacy and security. However, the router should have its own UI system so any incoming connection won’t be blocked.
- Company VPN. This is generally a customized answer or solution. It needs personalized technical support and setup. The main benefit is to have a completely safe connection to the server and intranet.
Things to Remember
Now that you already understand the concept of what does a VPN do, there are several things you need to consider in regard to its service.
First of all, the VPN service will encrypt your connection as well as giving you a new address for the IP, but it doesn’t make you anonymous. There are still more ways for other people to track your activities online, provided that they are so determined to do so. Hackers can use spyware or keyloggers or any kind of malware to your device.
If you aren’t careful about your online activities, anyone can collect info and data about you. Basically, a VPN isn’t a super solution for all of your online safety, but it is basically about having an extra security and protection layer to secure your traffic and connection.
Second, VPN service is basically legal. However, some countries ban such service or they may regulate the usage heavily. For countries like this, it’s possible to get internet connection and bypass the (government) censorship with the VPN connection.
If you are about to travel to these countries, you need to download the right app and manage your subscription before going there.
Although it’s always possible to use a special software that offers the same feature (as the VPN), nothing can really replicate or replace the all round privacy and security features of the VPN.
For instance, a smart DNS can help you access blocked online services and websites, but it won’t encrypt your internet traffic.
You may be thinking about using Tor, which will protect the privacy, but many sites may block the access.
If you want a complete service that can encrypt the data, hide your IP address and give you a new one, and protect the privacy altogether, then go with the VPN service.
Next, is it completely safe to use the VPN? Well, in general, yes. Again, you need to consider whether you are using a paid service or a free one.
If you want to protect your privacy, a paid service is the wisest option. Why? Because they will make sure that they deliver the best service in terms of protecting your rights, which are related to the privacy and safety.
If you go with a free service, you may be able to enjoy the features. However, the service would be limited and you may end up with your own data leakage and stealing.
Who will steal your data? The provider offering free service, of course! After all, they need money to run the service. If they can’t get it from you, then they will try to get it from you secretly.
That’s why you should do your research concerning the right provider. Check each one of them and their mechanism in dealing with what does a VPN do.
What should I do when dealing with the VPN? Should I leave it on? Well, yes! You should keep the VPN stay active all the time, especially if you want a total privacy. Of course, feel free to ‘turn it off’ if you feel like it. However, in most cases, turn it on for a complete and continuous privacy and security.
All in all, a VPN can hide your existence and privacy. If you have learned about what does a VPN do and its overall benefits for you, now you can make a better educated decision.