How does VPN work? What does a VPN do?

It’s not as simple as opening up a traditional web browser, and there are several different methods that effectively create encrypted “tunnels” through a network. As long as the VPN is on, all of your computer’s network traffic will pass through this tunnel to the VPN server, making it impossible for even the most dedicated hacker to tap into what you’re doing.

A VPN service works by sending all of the data that you either send or receive from your computer through a private tunnel. So, no one else will be able to see it. In addition, it is encrypted, which means that even if someone did manage to hack into your network, any information they found in your communications would be unreadable.

What Is a VPN?

What is a VPN? A VPN tunnel is formed when you connect your computer to a VPN server via an encrypted connection. Traffic that is routed through this tunnel will be protected from prying eyes, such as hackers or government surveillance agencies.

How does VPN work? What does a VPN do?

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are a great way to protect your privacy online and hide your browsing from prying eyes. VPNs accomplish this by encrypting your data when sending it over public networks like the Internet, thereby making it unreadable to hackers, the government, and all other third parties. VPNs have been used by businesses for decades for added security and privacy while working remotely.

Also read: Best Mac VPN

You can use a VPN to access blocked content from any country in the world, unblock Skype, VoIP, YouTube and Facebook in countries with Internet censorship firewall and secure your WiFi connection with encryption.

But how does VPN work?

This all might seem like science fiction, but the technology behind VPNs isn’t. There’s a handy infographic below that shows what’s happening behind the scenes and why a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is faster and safer for browsing the web.

The simplest way to think of a VPN is like a tunnel. When you use an application–send an email, watch Netflix, or do anything to transmit information out your computer–that information is sent as packets. These packets have a header that describes what they’re about and where they’re going, and also contains your internet protocol (IP) address. But they’re just packets: They can easily be altered on the fly by a bad guy or passed over your internet service provider (ISP), which leaves them vulnerable to being snooped on without your knowledge . And once they’re intercepted, it’s simple to track

A Virtual Private Network, or VPN , essentially allows you to access the Internet through a different IP address. So, for example, if you are outside the US and connect to a VPN server there, it will look to everyone as though you are viewing content inside that nation.

This is how the internet works. You share information and send and receive data through your internet provider and the organizations that may be listening in (like ISPs, spy agencies, advertisers, ticketing agencies, etc.). By protecting one’s personal communications, a VPN secures online privacy. With PIA, Private Internet Access – it’s essentially like the web doesn’t even see you. Instead, we do. This ensures that nobody can track what you’re doing or get access to sensitive information.

What does a VPN do?

VPN to Secure an Online Work Environment

When you browse the web while connected to a VPN, all your online activities—whether that’s searching Google for international flights or accessing Facebook photos—are encrypted, protected against hackers and cyber criminals, and can’t be viewed by anyone who might have network access, including your Internet service provider. Even better, because of secure proxy servers located in strategic locations across the globe, your data is also routed outside of your own location, providing you with better security.

Also read: What are the Benefits of VPN?

Secure and Encrypted Connection:

When you use a VPN – or virtual private network – your computer is assigned a new IP address, which provides anonymity if you need to bypass certain restrictions put in place by your network administrator. The encryption key makes it impossible for intruders to read data that travels over the network via the VPN tunnel.

A VPN ( Virtual Private Network ) not only ensures your security, but gives you complete anonymity . If you are accessing the Internet from a public, shared network, e.g. in a cyber cafe or hotel Wi-Fi , anyone using the same network can spy on you. Whereas, a VPN masks your IP address, enabling you to conduct private web browsing and remain anonymous online. In the event of a brute force attack , it is extremely difficult for hackers or other third parties to decipher the code as all information being transmitted is completely encrypted .

Connect to the web securely and anonymously

The world of the internet becoming more and more monitored is in general a bad idea.  It can mean many different things, but the place where it most affects you as a user is in your privacy.   In this day and age of “big data”, knowing that someone could potentially know where you are or what you do online is a cause for concern, especially with countries like the U.S., which could possibly monitor your data and activity.

VPN (Virtual Private Network) connection providers cloak your identity and location online. When you connect to a VPN, you make it seem as if you are in the country where the server is located. The exact opposite occurs if you access the internet without a VPN: Your IP address and geographic location can be identified by third parties.

During your VPN session you are virtually assigned to a different IP-address. Thus, the web sites you visit think that they are communicating with a server in another country. Your internet identity becomes completely anonymous and therefore safe.

Good VPN providers do not store logs, meaning that they never record your activities while using their service. This anonymity allows you to use the internet as if you were in another country, and access websites that might have been blocked based on your real location.

Access International and Regional content

It is becoming more and more difficult to unblock websites and content from certain countries. And in some cases, you are not even aware of the restrictions on your internet until you try to access the content. This is when you need a VPN. VPN connections allow you to access content that may be blocked in your region, and switch your server’s location so that you appear to be somewhere else in the world. A VPN connection is a simple way to get around regional limitations.

With a VPN (Virtual Private Network), you’re able to hide your real location, get past regional restrictions, and use services that would be blocked otherwise.


Using a Virtual Private Network can help hide your IP address, making it harder for others to trace where you’ve been browsing. It also protects your identity while downloading torrents so that no one will have access to your personal files. Torrenting itself might not be illegal in your country, but using an anonymous VPN makes it much less likely that anyone will know what you’re doing. In most of the world, copyright infringement is illegal. However, with a VPN you can sometimes get around these restrictions and download content you wouldn’t otherwise be able to.

What You Should Look For in a VPN?

VPNs can protect your internet traffic, protect your online identity and block ads. But which VPN service to choose? For that, you need to see the provider’s legal standing, privacy policy and whether it has been hacked in the past.

Find a provider that encrypts data twice (AES 256-bit), has a zero logs policy, has a kill switch feature and is compatible with the device you want to use the service on. Finally, choose a VPN with fast download speeds – this is especially important if you’re planning on downloading torrents.

No-logging policy and Server availability:

What You Should Look For in a VPN. Look for no-logging policies and independent audit certifications, like with NordVPN’s compliance with the strict no-logging policies of the German government, along with its transparent policy about when it needs to keep certain information.

Choosing a VPN can seem like a daunting task. There’s so many services out there. How do you narrow it down to only one? There are several factors you should look for in a VPN, and most of these factors will be specific to your needs. First things first is getting the basics, and making sure the service has an adequate no-logging policy.

Next up is server locations: While some might not worry about this at first, servers are incredibly important when it comes to streaming or bypassing geographic restrictions.

Security and Encryption

Make sure you choose a VPN with military-grade encryption standards that is immune to NSA and government surveillance.

When choosing a VPN, look for a service that uses high-grade encryption. Many VPNs have unfortunately turned to the less secure PPTP and L2TP standards because it can be cheaper and easier to implement on some platforms. However, those protocols are susceptible to IP address leaks, data breaches, and other types of attacks.

Performance and Speed:

There are three things to look for when you’re looking into a VPN. They are streaming performance, speed, and price. Streaming performance is the most important aspect of a VPN. After all, why are you looking at a VPN if it doesn’t let you watch your favorite shows or movies from anywhere? Make sure your prospective VPN offers servers in the US and EU, two of the most important locations for streaming globally.

Looking for a VPN that seamlessly streamlines your streaming experience? The best way to determine if a VPN will unblock specific streaming services is to test it out. We did the heavy lifting and streamed popular content from several of the top services using 10 different VPNs. No matter if you’re looking to stream in HD or 4K, a VPN can make all of your video streaming dreams come true.

A good VPN service will secure your connection and unblock geo-restricted websites without compromising your speed.

Sources and Further Reading:

  1. VPN – a Very Precarious Narrative by Dennis Schubert
  2. Don’t use VPN services by Sven Slootweg
  3. The self-contained networks 
  4. Slicing Onions: Part 1
  5. Slicing Onions: Part 2 – VPN not required 

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