What's a VPN
Virtual private network VPN

The internet has become an integral part of our lifestyles. It has empowered people to do various magnificent things while sitting in the comfort of their houses. The infrastructure of today’s world is standing on the foundation that was laid by the internet. The reason behind this is that the internet is the most cost-effective and efficient means of long-distance communication. It has bridged the gap between countries no matter the distance and has made people come closer to each other. This is why the internet is also recognized as the main force behind the world becoming a global village now. We see especially in times like today in which humanity is going through a pandemic. It is only because of the internet that life is continuing with some form of normalcy. What’s a VPN?

Internet in Today’s World

Even if we look today, everything we do or how we interact with the world, there is some part of the internet involved in it. Take an example of the education system today. It is completely internet-based because without the internet the concept of online classes wouldn’t be possible. On the other hand, the work from home culture has its foundation on the internet, while businesses have already shifted to cyberspace through e-commerce techniques. 

These are just a few key benefits that the internet is providing to the general public but the list goes on. Apart from the professional environment, the internet has also opened new avenues of entertainment for the public including streaming apps, online gaming, and video surfing – all this has been possible only because of the internet.    

Since we are talking about the internet, how can we forget the milestones humanity has achieved in terms of communication through the internet? Only a decade ago, people would think twice before making an international call just because it was so expensive that only a few minutes of talking on the phone could break one’s bank. 

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In contrast, today we see that people are on their phones for hours and hours, calling their loved ones thousands of miles away to different countries and continents and not only voice calls but video calls as well without any worry. Not only the cost of this communication is almost nonexistent but the quality of communication in regards to voice and video clarity is unmatched in current times – something which was impossible through traditional means of communication e.g the phone lines.

Access to the Internet

We have already established the great benefits of the internet but this still doesn’t explain the rise of network technology, which was once only restricted to governments or the militaries of the world for sharing sensitive data. The internet has become so much popular that today, there are an estimated 4.6 billion internet users, amounting to almost half the population. Well, there are two major reasons behind this: First, the internet has become a lot cheaper than it was back in the day. You can check Spectrum packages and see how economical they are even for the fastest speeds. 

The second reason is how easy it is to access the internet today. Both internet service providers and governments are making efforts to increase internet footprint to include more and more areas as well as making it faster and convenient for the public to be connected to these services. Many governments have also included the internet as an essential service that must be provided to every citizen. 

What is a VPN?

Before discussing a VPN, we should first figure out how the internet works. Basically, the internet is a network of networks. To make it simpler, the internet is just a bunch of devices that are connected to each other through various mediums, wired or wireless, and works by sending and receiving data packets. Since there are millions of devices connected over the internet, so the question arises, how to send data packets to a specific device in order to ensure communication? Well, the answer to this question is IP address. 

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Internet Protocol or IP addresses are unique addresses that are assigned to each device that is connected over the internet. Every device, every website, and practically everything that is on the internet has an IP address. This IP address is used by the servers and other devices present on the internet to communicate with a particular device and send or receive data from that device.

An IP address is a sensitive thing as well because through it, not only the device on which the internet is being used can be determined but the physical location of the user can also be tracked out as these IP addresses are assigned by internet service providers to the user. The VPN or Virtual Private Network’s main job is to mask the user’s original IP address with a remote one that is also called a dummy IP address. This dummy IP address is usually located overseas on a remote server thus adding a layer of protection between the user’s physical device’s location and the server that it is connecting to. 

The VPN actually routes the user’s connection to their own remoter server and from there, the original website the user wanted to reach and sends the data back through their remote server to the user’s device. 

Why Do You Need A VPN? 

As you already have guessed, the basic need of a VPN comes due to its benefits regarding security and anonymity it provides to the user. We have already discussed that VPN provides a barrier of its own servers and provides an indirect communication route, thus not allowing other entities on the web to track or know a user’s location. We will discuss these aspects of a VPN in detail below.

Protection from Personal Data Collection

Nobody can forget the famous Facebook lawsuit and infamous senate hearing of Mark Zuckerberg that showed how much a user’s activity and personal life and preferences are tracked over the internet. Nothing is for free and all these free informational and recreational websites like Google and Facebook offer their services in exchange for your personal data that is sold to advertisers in the name of personalized advertising. VPN aims to protect a user from these kinds of data collection by keeping the device, location, activity, and identity of the user anonymous on the web.

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Protection from Cyber Attacks

Not everyone who is present on the web has pure intentions and unfortunately, most people are on the internet to lure the innocent public into traps for their own personal or financial gains. Since VPN masks a user’s actual IP, it protects users from hackers like these who use IP addresses to invade into users’ computers or other devices to steal or destroy sensitive or personal information.  

Protection from Censorship

Just like any mass media in reach of public internet also suffers from mass censorship in many countries, which prohibits users from accessing certain types of information that a specific country seems against their own agenda. We see countries like North Korea and China have imposed censorship on news and the internet so that their public cannot get neutral views of the outside world and only stick to the pieces of information their government wants to feed. However, this is the age of technology and you cannot censor public opinions and sensitive news and information that easily. VPN allows users to break these barriers of censorship by masking their IP addresses, thus bypassing the checks that are in place by certain countries and service providers. Sometimes it is difficult to play games online too, then using a VPN helps to overcome the barrier and play the games, for example, gamers play DraftKings with a VPN and there is a long list of games that are not accessible from certain places. So gamers simply use a VPN to play the game.

Conclusion

VPN is a very handy and powerful tool especially in the current landscape where cyberspace has become a dangerous place and your every move is either being monitored or suppressed using censorships. VPN allows users to use the internet to its fullest extent without worrying about their security and private information being leaked as well as allowing them to leap the boundaries of censorship and make their voice heard.

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