A VPN is not just another buzzword juggled by tech-savvy people, but also a way to restore your online privacy. With the growing popularity of VPNs, you might have wondered if you need it too. This article offers a detailed explanation of what a VPN is and how to use it without profound computer knowledge.
Jan 04, 2021 · 4 min read
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. It creates an encrypted connection between your device and a VPN server, thus securing your online activities and enhancing privacy.
The internet is not safe by default. Hackers are always looking for ways to get into your system and steal your money. This is in addition to governments spying on their citizens and ISPs (Internet Service Providers) selling your browsing data to marketers.
When you turn on a VPN (Virtual Private Network) on your computer, smartphone, or tablet, it protects your data by putting everything you do online through a tunnel. And when you do things online using a VPN tunnel, nobody can see what you’re doing, which gives you an extra layer of security.
Imagine the subway in New York or London. The trains have windows so anyone can see who’s inside and what they’re doing. They also have signs so everyone knows where they’re headed. Now imagine a special train with no windows or signs. The people inside know what they’re doing and where they’re going, but nobody observing the train has any clue.
When you turn on a VPN on your device, it turns into that special train. ISPs and snoopers can see that you’re connected to the internet, but they can’t see your sensitive information and use it to harm you.
A VPN tunnel enhances your privacy by encrypting data (in other words, converting it into a code) and making it unreadable for snoopers.
You now know about a VPN tunnel, encryption, and that it secures your data. But what does this all mean? Understanding a VPN might be tough, so we came up with a couple of scenarios when you might need it:
VPNs are legal in most countries. However, certain countries, such as China, Iran, and Russia, regulate or ban the use of VPNs. We have prepared a list of countries where VPNs are illegal, which we update regularly.
Proxy is another tech term you can often hear in the context of cybersecurity. Just like a VPN, a proxy masks your IP address and bypasses geographical limitations. It’s great for watching region-restricted YouTube videos and browsing the web anonymously.
But unlike a VPN, a proxy doesn’t encrypt your traffic, leaving it accessible to hackers, governments, and ISPs.
All the traffic going through a proxy is also visible to the owner of the server. NordVPN, on the other hand, offers a strict no-logs policy — whatever you do online is your business.
A VPN extension only protects data in your browser, while other programs and services on your device such as Netflix, Dropbox, or Skype use regular unencrypted internet connection.
Differently from an extension, a VPN app protects all the traffic leaving your device. If VPN is enabled on your computer, it will not only secure the data in your browser, but also other tools connected to the internet.
The NordVPN app is easy to use and will take only a few minutes to set up. Just follow this tutorial:
You can also check out our ‘What is a VPN?’ section, where a VPN is explained for dummies in more details.