By using a VPN, your device is connected to a private, remote server over an encrypted connection, which encrypts and secures your traffic. As if using a VPN is like driving an armored, tinted Humvee through a secret underground tunnel (where anyone can see where you're going, and what you have in your backseat), the normal way of browsing the web is like bouncing along the highway naked (where anyone can see you, where you're going, and what's in your backseat).
Microsoft is believed to have invented the technology in the mid-1990s, but its origin story is not well documented. Initially used exclusively by businesses, subscription-based VPN services for the general public started becoming more popular about a decade ago, based on cybersecurity and antivirus company Kaspersky.
You can use a VPN for a variety of reasons, the most important of which is to remain anonymous online. VPNs mask your IP address - the unique number assigned to your device when it connects to a local network - so your personal information can't be seen. The VPN server's location will show up if someone decides to look up your IP address (which includes your approximate location and your ISP).
Also, using a VPN will let you access sites and services that are blocked in certain places, like Netflix in China or YouTube at your school; just pick a server in a country where the content you want is available to bypass geo-blocks and firewalls.
When you access public WiFi networks, including password-protected ones, it is important to use a VPN. The WiFi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) encryption, which most coffee shops, airports, hotels, and subway stations use for their hotspots, is easy to crack, and anyone with malicious intentions can exploit it for so-called man-in-the-middle attacks. In an 'evil twin' attack, hackers set up fake WiFi access points and trick users into connecting to them, one of the most popular methods for eavesdropping on wireless networks.
Even the WFH staff can benefit from a VPN: In addition to ensuring your privacy, a VPN can be set up to create a remote connection with the server at your office, giving you access to internal resources from your home.
In addition to malware and ad blockers, some VPN plans offer them as bonuses. You can hide your traffic with a VPN, but you won't be protected from other online threats.
Apart from a few countries (including the United Arab Emirates, Belarus, China, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Japan, Turkey, and Turkmenistan) that have restricted or outright banned VPNs, they are perfectly legal for the majority of the world. Nevertheless, illegal activities such as torrenting, purchasing prohibited goods, and hacking remain illegal even with a VPN.
If you use a VPN to unblock streaming services like Netflix in countries where it isn't available, it's not technically illegal, but it may result in an error message or a warning. It can be challenging to choose a VPN. You should definitely do your research before choosing a plan since there are many providers to choose from.
Legal jurisdiction. A VPN provider's physical location is very important. You may want to consider VPNs based in the British Virgin Islands, Panama, Switzerland, Romania, and other countries that are not part of the 'eyes' intelligence-sharing alliance: Legal jurisdiction. A VPN provider's physical location is very important. You may want to consider VPNs based in the British Virgin Islands, Panama, Switzerland, Romania, and other countries that are not part of the 'eyes' intelligence-sharing alliance:
The original Five Eyes coalition included the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand; the Nine Eyes, which added Denmark, France, Norway, and the Netherlands; and the Fourteen Eyes, which included Belgium, Germany, Italy, Sweden, and Spain. VPN providers based in those countries could technically be forced by authorities to collect and share your data, so it's best to avoid them.
The size and diversity of the network. When you're able to choose from a large number of servers (and locations), it makes it less likely that you'll have to share your IP address with other people. Two reasons are great about that - you've got extra bandwidth to use, and most streaming services don't detect VPNs. Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and other services look for IP addresses with heavy traffic loads.
Support for customers. In reality, any VPN user will run into connection issues at some point, so a support team that is responsible and reliable is a 'must-have' feature.
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