Posted in Cyber Security, Tools and Equipment

What’s a VPN for? A simple explanation

What is a VPN and why do I need it

A VPN offers anonymity to online users. VPN or virtual private network creates an encryption tunnel for your internet traffic to travel through it. Anyone watching is unable to see which website you’re visiting. Your online activity becomes invisible.

A man walking at the end of a tunnel

A VPN has servers that renders your IP appear from a different region or a country. So if you’re located in the US, with a VPN connected you’ll appear elsewhere in the world to the ISP. Say, France.

Paid VPNs offers multitude of servers/locations. Free VPNs, on the other hand, have limited number of servers. You would have to upgrade to avail them all. Free VPNs also, have restricted bandwidth unlike paid ones. Paid VPNs have unlimited bandwidth.

Configuring a VPN is easy-peasy. Simply select the location of your choice or let the VPN provider automatically choose the best location for you. Remember, the server with the least ping (ms) is the nearest. It is more likely to deliver speed and a stable VPN connection.

How do I get a VPN

You can choose from several VPN clients. The topmost are Express and Nord VPN. However, both are pricey as they offer some of the best services in the VPN industry. That is not to say others are any less. Just, that level of trust isn’t established yet.

Can you be tracked if you use a VPN

That is exactly what a VPN service offers. Protection from tracking. It blocks trackers from spying on you. It can be your ISP, government surveillance, or website cookies that allow advertisers to target you with ads online based on your web browsing activity. 

That’s an invasion of your privacy and nobody wants that.

Is a VPN safe

Of course, a VPN can be your safest best in the world of privacy and data leaks. VPNs have ads and malware blockers in them. Not all, mind you provide such a level of safety. Free VPNs aren’t to be trusted. If you’re on a limited budget, you can rely on a free VPN (for the time being).

Windscribe is an exception to this. As a person who’s worked in the cybersecurity niche, I can tell you from experience that Windscribe offers (for its free version) a few servers, but the speed is one to marvel at! Protocols selection, kill switch, and 10 GB bandwidth come bundled in their free package.

You can’t say the same for others out there.

Windscribe also provides you with an adblocker R.O.B.E.R.T. – a feature that protects your devices from ads, malware, phishing attempts, and trackers. Personally, I think R.O.B.E.R.T. ranks right up with Adblock Plus and Ublock Origin. It comes bundled with Windscribe’s browser extension. Works great for:

  1. Eliminating all kinds of ads
  2. Enhancing page loading speeds.
  3. Blocking DNS requests from a list of known domains
  4. Creating custom block lists

Free version gets you malware and ad blocking on only three devices. Paid plan lets you access R.O.B.E.R.T.’s blocking powers on multiple devices.

Sign up today using this LINK.

Moreover, you must check any service provider’s review and read through their privacy policy. For example, they may be keeping logs of your browsing activity. These are things you should be mindful of.

Should I use VPN all the time?

Ideally, yes but it isn’t practical if you’re at home surfing the web or enjoying Netflix. You must use the VPN when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks because in reality they’re ‘honey traps’.

Who doesn’t enjoy free Wi-Fi? That’s exactly what hackers prey upon. When you connect to it without using a quality VPN service, you risk your Personally Identifiable Information.

To prevent endangering yourself, enable the option to connect to a VPN service when an unidentified network is detected. That way you won’t have to do it manually every time you’re at a coffee shop or in a mall.

Should I have a VPN at home?

People do have VPNs at home. Mostly they’re trying to unblock websites in their region, such as access Netflix US library or Spotify as its availability is limited around the world.

Privacy geeks use it to configure it on their VPN compatible routers so that everything connected to it is secure, but that’s a more advanced level of security.

It’s a good practice. I won’t advise against it. Many does it to shop for cheaper airline tickets when they connect to a different country or buy games online (because highly anticipated games can release earlier in a region owing to time zone differences on Steam or Origin).

How much does a VPN cost?

For this, you’ll have to check out individual VPN provider’s pricing page. Express costs $ 12.95 per month while Nord would cost you $ 11.95/mo. But again, you should check their pricing page for mode and method of payment to better equip yourself.

Do I need a VPN on my phone?

With advances in technology, no device is left unprotected. VPNs are available for a range of devices. Android VPN is only the tip of the iceberg. You can get a VPN for iOS, compatible routers, consoles (PS4, Xbox), Smart TVs, Kodi, Mac, Roku, Apple TV, etc.

A phone showing VPN encryption enabled

Do you need it on your phone? Of course, especially in public places when connecting to open Wi-Fi networks.

Does Windows 10 have a built-in VPN?

Windows has a built-in functionality called the point-to-point tunneling protocol (PPTP). It’s a very basic service. If you’re looking to give boost to your internet speed (for P2P file-sharing), or simply aim to surf the web in anonymity, it is a suitable option to bank on.

Does a VPN hide your IP

If you’ve read anything I’ve said, you already have your answer. Still, let me reiterate.

A VPN service directs your internet traffic to pass through a secure server that automatically hides your IP address. VPN obfuscation technology masks your IP, and makes it (virtually) impossible for prying eyes to identify you.

Can you use a VPN to unblock TikTok

TikTok ban is always trending in some part of the world. And so the question is, can you use a VPN to unblock it? Short answer, VPN does work with TikTok. A paid VPN is recommended, but you can unblock it with a free VPN too. Just remember, a subscription gets you unlimited downloads and fast speeds.

Any good VPN will let your data stay encrypted so your ISP won’t know or anyone snooping won’t be able to intercept it. With a VPN, your TikTok app receives the IP address of the VPN server you’re connected to instead of your home IP.

Suggested read: How to go live on TikTok

There are a few complaints where TikTok doesn’t function even with a VPN. It is because you are registered on the app from your home IP address. A workaround to this is to reinstall the app with a VPN connected. Make sure to reboot first and turn location service off. This ought to do it.

Ask me anything VPN related, and I’ll answer.