What is a VPN and why people use it?

What is a VPN?

VPN is virtual private network. To be more precise it’s an extension to private network technology that allows user to create a secure connection (tunnel) between two or more devices over the Internet. VPN encrypts all transfered data and assures that connection is protected. It is widely used in corporate environment. Also VPN can be used to protect your privacy, access restricted websites and other (more in details bellow).

Why people use VPN?

to encrypt data

While using public Wi-Fi or the Internet always there is a risk of breach and that someone else unauthorized could access our data. How can it happen? Well, it’s not a secret to anyone that there is no perfect system and the Internet is not an exception to it. The easiest example is that attacker might mask real Wi-Fi hotspot creating another one with same name. This way he would be able to position himself between the hosts and capture unprotected data using fake hotspot. However sometimes big companies practice similar to that method to monitor usage of business computers by employees (there is a gag about it in Silicon valley show). VPN protects us from this type of attack and encrypts data making it unreadable.

to hide IP address

It’s important to know that while we browse the Internet different services and almost all websites collect our data (often it happens without our consent). Normally it’s used for variety of purposes such as statistics, advertising or tracking (making user a product of the service). Not always we are willing to participate in this type of activity. Sometimes we just want to stay anonymous and VPN comes to rescue in this situations.

to change virtual location

Virtual location meaning IP address connected to physical address. Using VPN user creates connection with server (in any available location) and access the Internet using this server so it looks like it was accessed from different location.
Why would anyone do that? Well, some services often are be restricted to local area (TV channels or services like Netflix). And if you really enjoy traveling and watch TV it can be very helpful.

to access restricted content

Sometimes ISP blocks particular websites. VPN allows user to change “virtual” location enabling access to blocked content (if it’s not blocked in another location as well).

VPN alternatives

  1. proxy
    Proxy (or proxy web server) it’s a server that redirects your requests while you access other servers acting as a middle man in whole process. You send request to proxy and proxy redirects it to destination server. Remote server answers sending response to proxy and proxy redirects it back to you. It’s a very similar to VPN except it does not protect your data. So there is no encryption available for proxy.
  2. smart dns
    Smart DNS (or smart domain name server) it’s a server that redirects only specific traffic replacing standard domain name server (without affection of internet speed). Like proxy smart dns does not encrypt anything therefore your data is not protected while travelling on the Internet.
  3. other
    Generally you can find far more advanced ways to secure your data and get privacy. As an example you can use I2P (garlic routing) or Tor browser (onion routing). It’s an open list and every day new technologies are created.


Nowadays privacy is especially important. From one side we have different companies, from another side hackers. Everyone is trying to benefit from our data and make some money with it. If you want to protect your data and(or) to stay anonymous VPN is really solid solution.

Pablo Web
I am a software engineer in Warsaw. I'm passionate about Informatics. I like taking photos, making videos and cooking.

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