A VPN, or virtual private network, is a service that creates a secure connection between your computer and the VPN server. This connection protects your online activity from being monitored by third parties, such as your internet service provider (ISP) or government. It also allows you to access websites and services that are blocked in your country or region.
However, what does it actually protect you from? What are you secured against, and what could technically slip through the gaps and compromise your security online? In this guide, we’re going to find out.
Understanding how a VPN works
When you connect to a VPN server, all of your traffic is routed through an encrypted tunnel. This means that anyone trying to spy on your activities, such as your ISP or government, will only see that you’re connected to a VPN server and will not be able to see what you’re doing online. This keeps your activity private and prevents your ISP from throttling your connection or selling your data to advertisers.
A VPN also hides your actual IP address and replaces it with the IP address of your connected server. This makes it appear as if you’re located in a different country or region, which is useful for accessing geo-blocked content. For example, you can use a VPN to watch US Netflix from abroad.
What does a VPN protect you from?
So, breaking it down now we know how a VPN works; let’s take a look at what it can actually protect you from.
A VPN protects your online activity from being monitored by anyone, including your ISP and government. It can also hide your data from hackers when you’re using public Wi-Fi, and, as above, it can prevent your ISP from throttling your connection.
Basically, anyone who can connect and view your internet connection will see that you’re using a VPN service. They’ll be able to see that you’re connected to a server, and they’ll know that your data is encrypted, but they won’t be able to see what you’re doing or which websites you’re visiting.
But then that feels like everything, which begs the question, what does a VPN not protect from?
Your VPN will not protect you from every single threat that exists online.
For example, it will not protect you from malware or viruses. This is because a VPN encrypts your traffic, but it does not provide any protection for your computer itself. So, if you download a malicious file, the VPN will not stop it from infecting your computer. You’ll still need to have some kind of antivirus software installed for that.
A VPN also won’t protect you if you willingly give up your information, such as by clicking on a phishing link or downloading a malicious file. This is because a VPN only encrypts your traffic, not your computer. So, if you click on a malicious link, the VPN will not stop it from infecting your computer.
If your device is infected, you’ll need to use an IT solution, like IT Support Brisbane services, who can remove the issues which will return your device to a normal condition.
A VPN also won’t protect you if your website is not secure. This is because a VPN only encrypts your traffic and not the connection between your computer and the website you’re visiting. So, if you’re visiting an unsecure website, the VPN will not stop it from being unsecure.
The Bottom Line
All in all, a VPN is a great tool to have in your online security arsenal, but it’s not a silver bullet. It will protect you from some threats, but not all of them. Granted, a VPN will drastically improve your safety online, but software like this must be coupled with other precautions, such as using antivirus software and being careful about the links you click on.