VPN Security: What You Need to Know

A VPN is the most important part of a secure online existence. They have function in security and privacy, keeping you anonymous from your ISP and hiding any identifying information from network snoopers.

In theory, all VPNs should operate this way, but that’s not the case. We’re here to give you a guide to VPN security and what you should look out for when picking a provider. By the end, our hope is that you’ll know why we recommend providers like CyberGhost (read our CyberGhost review) over ZenMate (read our ZenMate review).

If you want to go easy mode, you can always read our guide to the best VPN providers. The services we recommend all have a track record of secure, private browsing. You could bypass this knowledge altogether and just go with an option there. For the more curious among you, let’s start at the top.

What is a VPN?

VPN stands for virtual private network, and understanding the concept isn’t that difficult. Your home network has a physical connection. If, for example, you have three computers that are all connected through a network switch and not to the internet, that would be known as a private network.

The internet, on the other hand, is a public network where files can be transferred from one private machine to another.


A VPN restores that “private” moniker to your network, but for use with the internet. You’re creating a private network virtually, hence the name “virtual private network.” It’s a network, a connection between machines, it’s virtual as there’s no physical connection to the remote server and it’s private through password protection and encryption.


Originally, VPNs were created as a way for businesses to remotely access other machines. You’d essentially trick the remote machine into thinking it was on the same physical network. Now that VPNs have evolved for commercial use, they can be used for other purposes.

You can connect to a remote server which sends data out on your behalf, such as a proxy would. The difference between a VPN and proxy, though, is that VPNs provide more security with encryption and take randomizing measures at the remote server to make sure you’re anonymous.

Once your IP and location is hidden, you can safely browse the web. VPNs are most commonly used today to reclaim online privacy and bypass nasty geoblocks, a common distribution hurdle for TV shows, movies and streaming services that restricts access to a certain part of the world.

They’re also used to get around the internet in countries with strict censorship laws, such as bypassing the Great Firewall of China.

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