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What is a VPN? Virtual Private Networks Explained

what is a vpn

With the internet awash with genius-level hackers, sneaky phishing attempts, and just shady dealings altogether, VPNs are becoming more and more important. But why? What is a VPN and what exactly does it do? 

In short, a VPN is one of the best and most secure ways to connect or accessing the internet while protecting your data from site to site at the same time. They create an encrypted “tunnel”  between your data, the VPN servers, and the internet. Any data that exits the “tunnel” is masked as the VPN instead of showing up as your own. For Firefox users, we reviewed the best free VPNs in this article.

You may want to know more about these tools by checking out our side-by-side review of Avast VPN compared to ExpressVPN.

What Is a VPN and What Does it Do?

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) works as a secured connection between your data and the internet. Think of it like a private tunnel that hides your personal information from unwanted viewers or even tricks them into thinking you’re somewhere that you’re not. When your data exits the VPN’s encrypted tunnels and hits the internet, it’s coming out disguised as the VPN itself. In turn, this makes it a lot harder for a hacker to hijack your personal information.

Providing security and anonymity are the main purposes of a VPN. Similar to how a firewall will protect data that’s stored on your PC by providing a layer of defense against intrusion, a VPN protects your data that’s passing through the internet. But, that’s not their only purpose.

You might be thinking, “but Branton, that sounds just like a proxy?!” and you wouldn’t be wrong. However, unlike a proxy connection, a VPN secures more than just your browser. It works to secure your entire internet connection by essentially replacing your ISP routing for absolutely everything. So, yeah, a VPN is definitely like a proxy, but proxies don’t usually offer the same level of protection – or anonymity – as a VPN does.

VPNs also work to mask your location. Meaning, you can use a VPN to subvert various region locks on content and websites.

You can even install a VPN at the router level to secure your entire home network or local area network. If you have a lot of smart devices, or an entire smart home or local network, this is often one of the best options to build an extra layer of security. Once your router is secured by a VPN, every WiFi-enabled device that connects to it will pass data through your encrypted tunnel before it hits the internet.

Should I Use a VPN Client Software?

Short answer: Yes.

VPNs are especially important if you do online banking or anything else along those lines. If you conduct any business online, say you’re a freelancer or a remote contractor, a VPN should be enabled pretty much 100% of the time.

What if you’re connecting to a public network? Maybe at a coffee shop, an airport, or a hotel? It’s an easy answer, always use a VPN when connecting to a public network, regardless of where.

what is a vpn tunnel

The opposite would be like shouting your personal information in the middle of a busy mall. Sure, most people will ignore it, but not everyone will. Some people will gladly take that information and use it against you, whether that’s signing you up for fraudulent credit cards, or something even worse like full-blown identity theft. Scary, right?

Similarly, if a hacker/phisher gain access to something like your online banking information, a lot of really bad damage can be done faster than you could say “I should have been using a VPN”.

Long story short, if you want to keep your important personal information safe while browsing online, you should be using a VPN.

VPN Service Provider

There are many VPN providers you could choose from, some are free but the best options are paid.

Out of all the options, my favorite VPN provider to recommend is NordVPN for the simple reason that it works with everything. Whether you’re running Windows, Linux, or even Mac OS, NordVPN will work, and work well. They even have apps for all iOS and Android devices. It’s super easy to set up and really quick to turn on and off.

Plus, with plans starting at just $2.99/mo, NordVPN is also one of the most affordable VPN providers.

But, they’re not your only good option. TunnelBear, Express VPN, and Norton VPN are all great alternatives.


Whether you’re browsing the site or paying bills, a VPN is practically necessary in today’s always-online world. Now that you know what a VPN is and what they do, you should have no reason not to be using one.

With more people online than ever before, we also have more hackers and phishers than ever before. To make sure they’re not stealing your personal data, you should be taking steps to protect yourself, running a good VPN is undeniably one of the most important (and effective) steps you could take.


1. What is VPN and why do I need it?

A VPN, or virtual private network, is a secure connection between your computer and the internet. It's a great tool to protect your privacy and keep your data safe. Here are a few reasons why you might need a VPN:

-To keep your data safe when you're online. A VPN encrypts your traffic so that no one can see your information or track your activities.
-To access blocked websites and content. A VPN can help you get around censorship and access content that's blocked in your country.
-To protect your privacy. A VPN keeps your information private and prevents others from tracking your activities.

2. Is VPN good or bad?

VPN technology can be good or bad, depending on how it is used. In some cases, VPNs can be used to protect a user's privacy and security online, while in other cases, they can be used to track users and collect their data.

3. How Does a VPN work?

VPN technology was created in order to protect military communication from being intercepted and hacked. VPNs work by encrypting and hiding your traffic from anyone who might be trying to spy on it. This includes your internet service provider, the government, and anyone else who might be interested in what you’re doing online. VPNs are also great for accessing region-locked content, like BBC iPlayer or Netflix US library, while abroad.

4. Are VPNs a waste of money?

VPNs are not a waste of money, but they can be if not used correctly. A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a secure connection between your device and a remote server. This connection can be used to protect your data and privacy when connecting to the internet, or to bypass filters and restrictions placed on certain websites. However, if you are not connecting to a secure VPN server, your data can still be intercepted by third-party actors.

5. Is VPN illegal?

VPN usage is not necessarily illegal, but it can be if used in certain ways. For example, if a VPN is used to access copyrighted material without permission or to commit fraud, then it would be illegal. However, if a VPN is simply used to protect privacy or to access blocked websites, then it would not be illegal.

About Dusan Stanar

I'm the founder of VSS Monitoring. I have been both writing and working in technology in a number of roles for dozens of years and wanted to bring my experience online to make it publicly available. Visit https://www.vssmonitoring.com/about-us/ to read more about myself and the rest of the team.

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