A VPN is a service provides an important security service.
When you connect to the internet through your ISP you are most likely using their DNS servers to resolve the web sites you choose to access and they have the ability to record where you go, even what email you connect to. Many web sites you visit can also record this information along with your unique IP address. That IP is assigned to you by your ISP so anywhere that IP shows up can lead right back to your front door. (or smart phone)
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network and when you connect to the Internet via a VPN service you get two benefits.
- All the data you transmit or receive between your device and the vpn server is encrypted.
- All your ISP can see is that you connected to an IP that belongs to the VPN but nothing beyond that.
- Your connection will appear to come from a different geographical location which could be almost anyplace on the globe.
CONS: There are down sides to a VPN. Many service and some web sites will block you from access if they detect your using a VPN. Streaming media services often do this as a way to control delivery of content to specific locations. Others may block it to help reduce hackers who almost always use VPN to hide their tracks. It is a trade off you must live with.
In the above graphic you will see RED and GREEN networks. Anything in red is plain text, not encrypted. Data on the green network is encrypted. Your ISP cannot know what that data is or where it is going. Obviously the data after it leaves the VPN must be unencrypted or the destination web site or email server would have no clue what to do with that information.
IMPORTANT: When you check out VPN providers be sure to read their Terms of Service and Privacy Policies carefully. Look for assurances that they do not keep any server logs of any kind.
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