How To Protect Your Internet Browsing With A VPN

There are many privacy issues associated with surfing the web. Staying off the internet isn’t an option for most of us, but using a VPN can be the next best thing.

How To Protect Your Internet Browsing With A VPN

What is a Virtual Private Network (VPN)?

VPN stands for “virtual private network.” VPNs have long been used on the enterprise level because they help big companies keep customer data and proprietary information secure. They are increasingly popular for home use because they’re attractive to privacy-minded individuals.

VPNs are a separate service from your internet provider that you can sign into whenever you’re online to shield your activity from hackers, advertisements, fraudsters and any other unwelcome third parties. They work by concealing your real IP address and assigning you a temporary one. In the digital world, an IP address is a unique number that gets linked to all of your internet activity. Changing this identifier helps you stay more anonymous on the web.

Benefits of Using a VPN

  • Protection

    Using a VPN protects you from common risks associated with public Wi-Fi networks, such as hackers and scammers using public network vulnerabilities to steal your information or spread malware.

  • Less targeted ads

    Most browsers show you advertisements based on your browsing history. Signing into a VPN sidesteps many of those ad-targeting protocols. You’ll still see ads, but they’ll be less eerily specific. Some VPN services include an ad blocker as well.

  • Bypass location restrictions

    Some web content is blocked in certain geographic areas. This can be a hassle if you’re traveling, trying to watch a sports team that isn’t covered in your area, or if you’re doing research. By using a VPN, you can make it seem like you’re located somewhere else.

  • Save money

    You can save on items that are priced according to your location or browsing history. The big offender here is plane tickets. Ticketing websites remember which travel routes you research, and they employ tricks to charge maximum prices. Viewers in cities with higher costs of living tend to pay more, and you might see prices automatically inch up with every repeat search. When you use a VPN, they don’t know your location or if you’re a repeat visitor, so you’re more likely to get a low price.

Popular VPN Options

VPN Frequently Asked Questions

What should you expect when logging into a VPN?

After you subscribe to your VPN of choice, you’ll have to download the software on each device you want to protect. Each VPN’s app has a different interface, but usually the set-up and sign-in process includes following a few device-specific prompts and selecting the location of the VPN server you’d like to use. It doesn’t matter which location you use if you’re just seeking more privacy, but it does matter if you need to mimic the internet browsing experience of a specific place or country (perhaps during travel, or if you’re need to stream specific content).

Can you use a VPN to protect your Wi-Fi network?

Yes – if you have a VPN-compatible router, you can protect your entire network with a VPN instead of manually connecing each one of your devices. You can either buy a router with a VPN service pre-installed, or you can manually connect your VPN to a compatible router. Your VPN provider should be able to provide instructions and help you troubleshoot.

What can’t a VPN do?

Any security expert will tell you: Nothing connected to the internet is 100% unhackable. Even the best VPN can’t protect against user error, viruses, phishing scams, third-party data breaches or physical tampering. Since VPNs do require a couple of extra steps and change the way you experience the internet, not everyone will want to use one all the time.

Emily Ferron

Written by your home security expert

Emily Ferron