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Sunday, July 14, 2024

What is a VPN, and how does it work?

VPN stands for “virtual private network.” It’s a tool that encrypts your internet traffic and hides your IP address and virtual location.

What is a VPN used for?

A virtual private network significantly boosts your online privacy and security. Thanks to its encryption, third parties cannot spy on your online activity. Even your internet service provider cannot see what you do online.

A VPN also allows you to overcome internet censorship. All your traffic is routed through a remote server, so you can access websites restricted in your country.

Here are five cases when you definitely need a VPN.

  1. You want to secure your online data. You need an extra layer of protection when you’re online. Not all websites use HTTPS, a secure communication protocol where S stands for secure. If you’re visiting a website without HTTPS, the data you send or receive can be stolen by cybercriminals or other third parties. Unsecure apps also leak your data. But how do you know if the app you’re using is secure? You don’t. Apps are black boxes, and it’s anyone’s guess if they follow the best cybersecurity practices. Since a VPN encrypts all your internet traffic, you don’t need to worry about unsecure websites or apps. That extra layer of encryption makes sure your online data is safe.
  2. You want to access blocked websites. If you want to use Youtube in China, VPN is the answer. It changes your IP address and redirects your internet traffic through a remote server, letting you browse under the cover of its IP and access blocked websites. Similarly, VPN lets you stay at home — at least virtually — even when you’re traveling. You won’t miss your favorite content when you’re abroad.
  3. You often use unsecure connections Public Wi-Fi is inherently unsecure. If you spend a lot of time on public hotspots — in hotels, airports, or coffee shops — a VPN protection is a must. Without it, a cybercriminal can use many methods to spy on your internet traffic, steal your data, or inject malware into your device. When on public Wi-Fi, VPN must always be on.
  4. You want to avoid unlawful government surveillance. Governments usually have direct or indirect access to internet service providers operating in their jurisdiction. It varies from country to country, but your government may use this access to actively track your online activity. Thanks to all kinds of intergovernmental agreements, they may also share this information with other countries. A VPN hides your online activity from all third parties, including your internet service provider and government.
  5. You use file-sharing services. Peer-to-peer services have many legal and valid uses: distributing open-source software or public domain videos, sharing large amounts of internal information in an organization, or even pushing service updates. And yet, internet service providers try to discourage their users from peer-to-peer services by setting bandwidth limits.

Use a VPN. With it, your ISP cannot see your traffic and limit your peer-to-peer sharing.

Why do you need a VPN

Who can use VPN services? Short answer — everyone.

  • A freelancer trying not to spill her latte on her laptop.
  • A gamer avoiding bandwidth throttling.
  • A traveler enjoying his favorite content on the move.

A VPN is a swiss army knife — you can use it depending on your needs. Whether you’re a student overcoming unreasonable Wi-Fi restrictions at your school.

  • Or a business owner securing sensitive work data (P.S. when working remotely, always use a VPN — business data is too sensitive to be sent and received without an extra layer of security).
  • Or maybe you’re a journalist working under an autocratic regime.

Without VPN protection, your freedom or even life could be in jeopardy. The idea behind a VPN is truly simple — everyone deserves a secure and unrestricted internet. By encrypting your traffic and hiding your IP, a VPN makes it a reality.

What is an IP address?

IP — or internet protocol address — is a string of numbers that identifies your device when you connect to the internet. Without it, devices and servers couldn’t exchange information. All your devices have a local IP address. When they connect to the internet, your router assigns them a public IP.

Every website you visit can see this public IP AND your physical location. What’s more, online spies can look up online activity associated with a particular IP address. Your IP, location, and online activity are important data points for someone who’s spying on you and trying to make a detailed profile. When you use a VPN, you first connect to a remote VPN server, making it seem like you’re browsing from another place with a different IP address. Your online activity cannot be traced back to you through your IP.

How does a VPN work?

When you connect to a VPN, it creates an encrypted tunnel that secures data traveling between you and the VPN server.

To secure each data packet, a VPN wraps it in an outer packet, which is then encrypted through encapsulation.

Your data stays safe during transfer. When it arrives at the server, the outer packet is decrypted. A VPN protocol is the key to VPN technology. It’s a set of encryption standards used to create a secure connection between two devices.

VPN providers commonly support a couple of such protocols.

  • OpenVPN, the most popular of them, is used by the majority of VPN providers in the world. It is highly configurable and offers a nice balance between speed and security, as you
    can use it on both TCP and UDP ports.
  • Internet Key Exchange version two – IKEv2 is a tunneling protocol usually paired with IPsec for encryption. It adapts well to network changes, making it an excellent choice for phone users who often switch between Wi-Fi and mobile connection.

NordVPN has also implemented a next-generation VPN tunneling solution. That’s NordLynx, built around WireGuard — the fastest tunneling protocol out there. NordLynx WireGuard is insanely fast and lean — it’s made just of four thousand lines of code. Less code means less space for errors.

It’s easy to deploy, audit, and debug. NordLynx provides higher speed and security — and it works like a charm.

How to set up NordVPN?

It’s easier than you think. Once you download NordVPN and get the subscription, just:

  • Open the app, be it on PC, Mac, or smartphone.
  • Log in.
  • Use the same credentials you used to sign up.
  • Click to connect. You can choose the Quick Connect button, which automatically selects the most suitable server.
  • Or pick a location from the map.

NordVPN adheres to a strict no-logs policy.

Your online activity is your business. NordVPN — online security starts with a click.

About NordVPN: NordVPN is part of Nord Security, an online security company that aims to provide users with all the necessary online security tools. NordVPN is the world’s leading VPN provider, protecting millions of internet users every day. We employ next-generation tech solutions to make sure our users enjoy online safety with peace of mind. Thanks to one of these advanced solutions — NordLynx, a Wireguard-based tunneling solution — NordVPN has become the fastest VPN on the planet, as confirmed by the latest speed tests.

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