What is a VPN and why would I need one?

So in this scenario let’s pretend coronavirus isn’t a thing. We know that’s not exactly easy right now, but try. You decide to work at a cafe one morning. You’ve got your usual bearded, trying too hard, coffee connoisseurs dotted around you. You find a spot with a plug and you search for the cafe Wifi. Have you ever had that sneaking suspicion someone, somewhere might be able to see your online activity? Yes? No? Maybe? Some definitely have. And for good reason. This is where Virtual Private Networks, or VPN’s come in. They allow you to protect your information and activity from pesky prying eyes. Let’s dive into it in more detail.

What is a Virtual Private Network?

So, the basics. VPN stands for ‘Virtual Private Network’. It allows you to create a secure connection to another network over the Internet. VPN’s have the ability to encrypt your internet traffic and disguise your online identity. This makes it more difficult for nasty hackers to track what you are up to online or steal your data. The encryption takes place in real time.

VPN’s were originally created as a way to connect business networks together securely over the internet or allow employees to access a business network from home. But over time they have evolved and are now used by individuals for an array of different personal things.

How does a VPN work?

So, you’ve probably heard of an IP address. IP stands for internet protocol. This is a unique address that identifies a device on the internet or a local network. A VPN hides your IP address letting the network redirect it through a specially configured remote server run by a VPN host. If you need a visual, think of it like your router is on vacation. Perhaps it is somewhere else in the country or it could even have jetted off abroad to the Bahamas to catch some sun. 

So now you’ve connected to a VPN your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and other third parties cannot see which websites you visit or what data you send and receive online. Your privacy is now a lot stronger. However it does come with it’s downsides. For a start, you will probably find your internet connection is a fair bit slower. Also a VPN can be compromised by malware on your device. Even with a VPN, things like cookies allow companies to track your internet usage even after you’ve left their sites. Furthermore, there are so many VPN services out there, some a hell of a lot better than than others.

Here are some VPN suggestions

Picking a VPN can be tough. Some are more expensive than others. There is also the added fun (not really) of some of them being fake or containing malware. Take a look at these three and as always do your own research and pick which one best suits your needs (we can advise you if needed):

  1. ExpressVPN – It has fast server connections, it is more secure than any others like it, it’s easy to use and even has free cloud storage. You really can’t go wrong with ExpressVPN.
  2. NordVPN – Probably the biggest name out there. And it has this accolade for a reason. It has many features, including ‘’Double VPN’ security and an independently audited no-log policy. It can however be on the expensive side if you aren’t ready to commit to their annual subscription.
  3. Surfshark – It is cheap as chips and easy to use. If you just want to test out VPN for the first time and get a feel for they work, Surfshark is a good option.

So what are you waiting for? Get VPNing like a pro and help protect yourself and your data!
Don’t forget we are now on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram! Be sure to follow us for security tips and all the latest privacy news.