Can a VPN Really Protect Your Privacy Online?

SECURITY Updated on: 25 September 2018

In the world we live in today, our private lives are becoming increasingly public. Our so-called ‘personal’ information is no longer personal. It goes without saying, that the need to secure our online privacy and take back control of our private lives and personal information is now greater than ever before.

In this post, we provide the answers you need as to whether or not a VPN can really protect your privacy online.

1. What is a VPN and What Does It Do?

Also known as a Virtual Private Network, a VPN is a tool that can be used to help you get online and surf the web anonymously. The easiest way to describe a VPN is like a middle-man that you use in order to connect to the internet.

1. You make the request from your computer to visit a site by typing an email address into the browser. That request is then routed to your VPN server.
2. Your VPN server then connects you to the site you are trying to reach.
3. Your private IP and computer information is never put online and remains completed secured, behind the mask of the VPN IP and server information.

Accessing Blocked Content

  • You can get access to geo-restricted content, such as the services offered on Netflix and many other popular content streaming sites.
  • You can bypass blocked sites that your ISP may not allow you to visit or if you are located in a country that exercises censorship, your government may have blocked.

Let’s say you are trying to access a bar or club; in most cases, due to age restrictions that are in place, there will often be a security person who is present and whom checks and verifies your ID in order to make sure you meet the requirements.

Geo-Blocks and Censorship controls work in the same way. Before you can get into the site you want to visit, the ‘security’ will check and verify that you are permitted to do so.

With a VPN, you don’t have to worry about any checks. You get to take the red carpet into the building without having to stop at security. Essentially, your VPN works to ensure that wherever you are, you use the right entry route in order to get access to the sites or content you need.

Online Anonymity

The key question posed by this article is around security and whether or not a VPN can actually protect your privacy online. While it would be foolish to say or think that there is a 100% fool-proof way to give you absolute protection; a VPN is the best tool that you can use for security online.

The risks that come from viruses and malware are far less with a VPN than with any other tool as there is a third-party sitting in between your connection and the sites that you visit.

Hiding your IP address is also a fundamental element of protecting your privacy online. When someone has your IP address, he or she can trace your every move online and follow you around with adverts or spyware. Using a VPN to hide your IP address will ensure that you receive less adware and are less able to be tracked and followed around online.

Hide Your Online Activities

It doesn’t matter what you do online, you deserve and should, in fact, demand the right to privacy. Whether you are worried that your internet service provider (ISP) might be watching you or you regularly use public W-Fi and want to stay safe from hackers, Virtual Private Networks are a great way to protect your privacy online.

Aside from safeguarding your online privacy, VPN services are frequently used for Peer-To-Peer and BitTorrent traffic because they prevent your ISP from detecting and putting a stop to such activities. Other services such as Hulu, Netflix, iPlayer, and many other content streaming sites are also enhanced by the use of a VPN.

2. How Does a VPN Work?

The majority of VPNs use a range of encryption technologies, such as:

SSL, TLS, L2TP, and IPSEC, in order to form and create an encrypted tunnel that runs from your device to the VPN server. Your web traffic then travels through this tunnel, and nobody can see what you do or where you go due to the protection of that tunnel.

Some employers insist that their employees use a VPN to connect to their networks if they want to access company content offsite. This is because of the above-mentioned encryption, and it is one of the safest and most secure ways to send information over the web.

3. Beware of Free VPNs

Aside from the obvious saying, that nothing which is free, is really ever given for free; a Free VPN comes with a wealth of warnings that you need to be fully informed of before you try to choose the best VPN service for you.

A free VPN will not offer encryption, and this is the only real way you can ensure that the information you send online cannot be intercepted.

A free VPN will not be able to promise that your data will not get shared with third-parties. In many cases, this is one of the key ways a free VPN business will make their money.

A free VPN will not be able to offer a reliable and support service.

A free VPN will not have as many IP addresses at their disposal to ensure your requests online at not visibly coming from a VPN.

A free VPN will not be able to afford to pay out money in order to use ultra-secure service in reputable data centers.

Because of the above-named reasons, you will probably find that free VPN will not protect your privacy online. On the contrary, it would expose you and your equipment to unwanted tracking, spyware, adware, and malware.

By using a paid-for VPN service, which normally only costs between $3-$10 per month, you are given the assurance of a highly secure service that provides you with encryption and delivers upon a promise of being one of the most secure ways to get online and one of the best ways to protect your online privacy.