Many ask how does a VPN work and how does a VPN hide my IP Address? Many want to remain anonymous on the web. This is for many reasons including streaming when on vacation, preventing bullying or stalking, and protecting from surveillance by threatening bodies. This article looks at VPN and explains what it does and how. You will then understand how you can stay virtually hidden on the Internet.
You have all probably heard of a VPN before and even used one. But do you know what it does?
VPN means Virtual Private Network which gives you online privacy. VPNs were originally only used in big businesses, organisations or governments as they wanted to secure and protect their data. Now then, as people worked remotely, and not just in the same building, businesses and others needed to create a secure connection. If they didn’t, they were at risk of hacking and loss of important data. Nowadays, it has changed. People use VPN to make sure your location remains private. VPN ensures your data is encrypted and ensures you can surf the web anonymously.
Hide my IP: How does a VPN work?
Firstly, the Internet is the key. When you want to access or visit a website, you type in a domain name eg www.facebook.com or whatever. The domain name is the ‘brand name’ for its IP address. IP address is ‘virtually’ the same as your home address but instead of having your exact house number and road or street name, the IP address is a list of numbers and letters. Remembering a long string of numbers just is not easy, so we have easy-to-remember domain names. It makes sense. We type in the easy domain name and our computer then translates them.
Now then, your computer and smartphone, and every device using the Internet, also has an IP address.
So, when you type in a domain name while using Google, Firefox or whatever, you are sending your data across the Internet until it reaches a server. The server translates the data and sends you back the website you requested to access.
But, when you send data from your PC or smartphone, you are sending your own IP address and much more information too. This is a danger as ‘hackers’ can intercept what you are sending and access your information. Now then, imagine you are sitting in a coffee shop using WIFI and using your phone to access your bank account. Someone else can hack into your activities and steal your info. The consequences can be dire! The hackers get your passwords, emails and much more! Using a VPN stops this from happening.
The websites you are generally accessing gather your info too. They usually do this to gather statistics for marketing and, also, to make sure that you are conforming to their copyright rules. This can cause issues or problems. When you are at home, you have access to your national TV channels. But, when you are on vacation in Greece or Spain for example, you are outside the zone the provider allows. If you do not use a VPN, your IP address is sent to the provider and it sees you are no in your country and will block you.
So, how does a VPN protect your privacy so that no one else knows where you are at any given time? A VPN creates a tunnel that encrypts your information when you send it online. This means that if someone gets hold of your data, they will not be able to read it. Well, this is not wholly true. In fact, even when you use a VPN it is possible to be hacked, but it is much harder for the hackers as the VPN tunnels change the encryption frequently.
The VPN also adds in another server or sometimes more than one additional server. So, with VPN your data goes to the VPN server first and the VPN server sends that out to the website of the provider you wish to access. This helps you in many ways. Firstly, it can change your location. This means you can watch your favourite show on Netflix if you are no longer at home in your country. Using the VPN, you can usually select the country where you wish to be seen to be.
So, you are on vacation in Spain, but you select Great Britain as your location on the VPN. The VPN then shows everyone that you are in Great Britain even though you are by the swimming pool in Alicante.
Another example, you are travelling and are in Paris but wish to see your favourite Netflix show. But Netflix is not available there, as it blocks you because it sees that you are in Paris. Your VPN then sends your info to another VPN server in the USA and that VPN server sends it to Netflix. Netflix now thinks you are in the USA and not in Paris. The VPN has basically tricked Netflix into thinking you are in a different location.
There is another benefit too. When you book a hotel or flight the host server offering the deal frequently change the price according to who you are and where you live. By using VPN smartly, you can get better deals for flights and hotels saving you money!
Why use a VPN?
Now, websites frequently collect your data and know your choices and behaviour. Governments sometimes want to track your location but when using VPN your location only comes down to the location of the VPN server itself, not where you really are. Furthermore, VPN has a ‘No Logs Policy’ so VPNs do not record, or log, the websites you visit. This is very important for nationals of some countries who ban the use of Facebook and much more. So, if a government requests a VPN provider to share access to their logs, your information simply does not exist there at all.
So, VPN protects your privacy on the web by changing your location, encrypting your data and ensuring your privacy. Hopefully, you now know the advantages of having a VPN, so go and get one now!