What is a VPN service, and how does it work?

Conventionally, when your computer tries and connects with the internet, the device’s IP address is used as an identification for the server. It helps establish a connection and ensure accurate data exchange. However, it is not always that your computer accesses secure servers. Sometimes the problem is with the site you are trying to access and the kind of servers it relies on.

The problem

When you have robust anti-virus software, it also monitors and blocks such malicious connections. However, to be sure that your connection doesn’t make your device vulnerable to threats, the only option you have is not to let out information like your IP address.

Sometimes it is not just the IP address that is leaked but other sensitive information like your device location and others. If a hacker gains access to this kind of valuable information, it can lead to data breaches and other severe cases like identity thefts. Besides the device itself, the other gadgets connected in the same network would also be at risk.

The solution

While all that sounds scary, there is a straightforward solution that you can rely on if you wish to secure your computer from such risks – VPN. Virtual Private Network is originally a concept that was created for the corporate scenario. There are times where businesses let employees access critical data from different locations other than the physical office location. To ensure the loss of data during these connections, virtual connections were used. The primary reason was also to let employees access the local intranet from different locations.

The concept now has evolved and is being commonly used by several computer users around the world. There are several reasons why people choose to use a VPN service

  • To hide their device identity
  • To protect the location and access sites that are restricted in the respective geographical location
  • To maintain anonymity online

VPNs ensure that random sites and servers that you connect do not collect your device information. This expands the applications of the internet and acts as a secondary layer of protection besides the installation of an anti-virus tool.

The procedure

There are different types of virtual private networks in use today. Irrespective of the VPN you choose, here is what happens –

  • When your device tries to connect to a site on the internet, instead of directly accessing the respective server, it connects to the virtual network.
  • The virtual network then sends the connection request making it look like the connection is originating from the virtual network. The IP address and other details that the desired server would receive would be the details of the chosen virtual network.
  • The response comes from the site to the virtual network, which is then routed to your device.

In this whole process, there is a level of encryption available, which ensures that your device’s location or IP address is not traceable. It makes sure that your connection requests are anonymous, and thus your computer is protected from hackers.

The options

  • There are VPN apps that let you run the app in the background as you use the internet. It can be installed on your computer or laptop, and irrespective of the browser you use, the connection requests would all be directed to the virtual network. Whether it is an app that connects to the internet or your browser, the VPN app takes care of all forms of connection requests.
  • There is the other type of VPN service that lets you install a plug-in for your browser. It is a browser-specific application. Therefore, it only maintains anonymity when you browse the internet from that browser.
  • Finally, there is another secure solution, which is the router-based VPN. This one lets you establish a virtual network for the whole home or office network. With this established, you are creating a primary layer of security for all the devices connected in that network. This can be slightly more expensive, but it is also the most reliable solution as you can protect the entire network. Remember that the weakest device in your network would become the entryway for threats. Even if you have the best VPN on your PC, but there is another device that is trying to access a less secure connection, the whole network of connected devices would be at risk.

A final note

Using an anti-virus tool, a good one, and using a VPN would be the most reliable solution to secure your PC or laptop from threats. However, remember that these aids only help you strengthen security. They can only make it all the more difficult for hackers, but still, hacking or accessing data from your computer would no be impossible. The only way to avoid threats would be to prevent connecting to sites that are not secure. Also, make sure that you choose a reliable VPN with good reviews from users around the world. Finally, keep your computer and anti-virus tool regularly updated with security patches released from time to time.


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