What is a VPN?

A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a secure connection between people and devices over the Internet. A VPN makes going online safer and more private by stopping people from seeing who you are, where you are, or what you’re looking at.

vpn

VPN definition

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. A VPN acts like a digital middleman between you and the Internet. Your Internet traffic travels through an encrypted tunnel and will look like it’s coming from the VPN server rather than your own IP address. This gives you online privacy and secures your activity on shared WiFi connections.

“A VPN acts like a digital middleman between you and the Internet.”

What does a VPN do?

A VPN encrypts your online activity and makes it look like your Internet traffic is coming from a VPN server rather than your own IP address. By using a VPN, people can’t figure out who you are, where you are, or what you’re looking at. Benefits of using a VPN include:

  • Keeping your online activity private
  • Concealing your actual IP address
  • Protecting your browsing activity while on public WiFi, like in coffee shops or airports
  • Masking your online activity, making it difficult for online advertisers to track you
  • Spoofing your location by accessing the Internet using VPN servers around the world
  • Enabling you to watch streaming video content from other countries

Besides these benefits of using a VPN, employers often use VPNs to enable their employees to remotely access files and programs on a business network as if they were in the office. Additionally, some people use VPNs to bypass Internet censorship in certain countries, such as journalists or political dissidents who want to speak out safely while hiding their identity.

“By using a VPN, people can’t figure out who you are, where you are, or what you’re looking at.”

What is a VPN service?

Most VPNs for consumers are actually VPN services. With a VPN service, you don’t have to own, setup, or maintain anything. Rather, the VPN provider is responsible for the servers, the encryption, and the user authentication. The customer simply pays a subscription fee to use the VPN service.

Using a VPN service makes it easy to get started. You sign up for a subscription, download the VPN client or app, and connect to a server. There are many VPN providers, so the hardest part of the process might be selecting which one to use. It’s important to select one who is known to be trustworthy and reliable.

Malwarebytes Privacy VPN includes secure 256-bit encryption, and it uses a newer and faster VPN protocol that minimizes lag. If you’re looking for a VPN service, you can try it free and see how easily you can help protect your online privacy and secure your WiFi connection.

“With a VPN service, you don’t have to own, setup, or maintain anything.”

How do VPNs work?

When you’re connected to the Internet, all of your activity is logged and associated with your Internet Protocol or IP address. If you’re using a shared WiFi network, others on the network could see what you’re doing. Even on your home network, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) can still see your activity.

Using a VPN is like creating a digital middleman between your device and the Internet that blocks others from seeing what you’re doing. When you connect to a VPN, instead of your activity being associated with your IP address, now it’s the VPN server’s IP address that is associated with your data. You might think of it like a return address: Instead of the mail coming from your home address, it’s now coming from the VPN server’s “home” address.

The data that is sent and received when you’re online is also encrypted, so besides it not coming from your own IP address, it’s also unreadable. You could think of it like sending scrambled information through a secret tunnel, and it’s not readable until it reaches its intended destination on the other side. Even if someone were to intercept the message in the tunnel, without the key, they wouldn’t be able to decipher it. Without getting too technical, the important thing to remember is that with a VPN, data is encrypted as it enters the tunnel and it’s decrypted as it leaves the tunnel using encryption keys.

How to use a VPN

Using a VPN service is an easy way to get started. If you plan to sign up with a VPN provider, the steps typically include:

  • Research VPN providers to find a reliable one you can trust.
  • Sign up for a free trial if you want to take the VPN for a test drive first, or sign up for the subscription if you’re ready to buy right away.
  • Download the VPN client for Windows or Mac, or the VPN app for Android or iOS. Many VPN providers offer subscriptions for multiple devices.
  • Select a server location, then connect!

If you want to try a VPN service now, check out Malwarebytes Privacy VPN.

Does a VPN protect you from viruses and malware?

A VPN and security software protect against different things. They are two key parts of an overall cyberprotection strategy. You might think of them working together as protection + privacy.

A VPN gives you privacy for your online activity. Security software like Malwarebytes Premium guards your devices against malware threats like viruses and ransomware.

If you’re worried you might have a virus or malware on your device, we’re here to help! Try our free virus scan and removal tools now.

Gaming VPNs

If you’re a PC gamer, you might wonder, what’s the best VPN for gaming? While using a VPN for gaming in the past may have seemed like a good way to slow you down, VPN technology has advanced. These days, you can use a VPN while gaming with minimal lag.

Malwarebytes Privacy VPN is a next-generation VPN that uses a newer and faster protocol, and delivers speeds way faster than older VPNs. Don’t think you can use a VPN while gaming? Try Malwarebytes Privacy VPN free, and put it to the test.

VPN news

VPNs are mainstream, which is good news

VPN usage is increasing, says December 2020 survey

21 million free VPN users’ data exposed

300 shades of gray: a look into free mobile VPN apps

Malvertising on iOS pushes eyebrow-raising VPN app

Podcast: Mythbusting and understanding VPNs with JP Taggart

Podcast: Why you need to trust your VPN

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