Simply put, a VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a service that takes your internet connection and makes it more secure, helps you stay anonymous as you travel the web. When you use a VPN, it shrouds your true IP address, assigning instead a temporary “burner” address. Crucially, a VPN encrypts all your data as travels from your computer to its destination.
What’s the problem with people knowing your IP address? Well, your IP address is sort of like your home address. It’s a number that your internet provider assigns to your computer that allows you to send email and gain entry to basically any site you want to use. That’s a good thing, because navigating the internet is part of modern life.
The somewhat “bad” news is that your IP address—like your home address—also gives away your computing location, at home or on the road or wherever you log on and identifies you as you.
That should bother a computer user. Why? For starters, governments track people down by their IP address (usually with the help of the person’s ISP). Perhaps more pertinent to you, online businesses monitor activity coming from IP addresses. They may not know your name, but they know you like their website—and they know where to find you.
Online companies and networks often restrict someone’s access to a website based on where the user is located. And they know where the use is because—you guessed it—they know your IP address.
Finally, hackers can break into networks and sometimes take over devices through its IP address.
A VPN is an increasingly necessary—and increasingly user-friendly—remedy. When you use one, your connections can’t be linked to your phone or desktop. Visit any website, and your ISP doesn’t know where you’ve been.
The bottom line? VPNs are more secure, provide a nearly hack-proof environment, nearly complete anonymity—and your browsing life stays virtually the same.