Using a VPN is an easy way to protect your Internet connection from certain kinds of cyber attacks, staying anonymous while you browse, and unblocking censored content.
By passing your Internet traffic through an encrypted tunnel, VPNs increase your security, privacy, and freedom online. In this article, we’ll explain how a virtual private network helps and why you should use one.
What does a VPN do?
A VPN establishes an encrypted tunnel between your device and the VPN server. When you browse the Internet using a VPN, all your traffic passes through this encrypted tunnel before reaching the public Internet. In this way, an attacker cannot see your browsing activity, as your true IP address and location are hidden. Read our article about how a VPN works to learn more.
Why use a VPN
Here are some of the reasons why to use a VPN:
● Browse securely on public WiFi — If you use public WiFi at a mall or a coffee shop, you should use a VPN to protect your activity. Hackers can easily gain control of a public WiFi network (or create a fake WiFi network) and monitor your browsing activity and even steal account login information. A VPN encrypts your connection, blocking out attackers.
● Unblock censored content — If you live in or travel to a country with restricted Internet, a VPN can help you access blocked websites. For example, when ProtonMail was recently temporarily blocked in Turkey, ProtonVPN provided a way for users to bypass the government Internet censors.
● Keep ISPs from spying on you — Without a VPN, your Internet service provider can see everything you do online. ISPs can exploit this capability to throttle certain websites or users or charge more for access to “premium” websites. ISPs also use this to slow down or block file sharing protocols like Bittorrent. Many governments also use ISPs to conduct mass surveillance on citizens. With a VPN, it becomes more difficult for ISPs to carry out censorship and surveillance.
● Browse anonymously online — When you visit a website without a VPN, the website can see your IP address and your location. A VPN can help prevent websites from tracking you across the Internet because it masks your IP address and replaces it with the IP address of the VPN server you’re using. There are, however, other ways for websites to track users, which is why it’s also important to use a privacy-focused browser. For even more anonymity, you can use the Tor network. (ProtonVPN offers one-click access to Tor servers.)
● Access blocked streaming video and other content — Some online content is only available in certain locations. By using a VPN server in a different country, you can browse the Internet as though you were in that country and gain access to streaming services (such as US Netflix).
What a VPN can’t protect against
As with any security product, it is extremely important to understand the limitations of a VPN to avoid any false sense of security. Here are some of the things a VPN cannot do.
A VPN may be helpless against more sweeping forms of censorship. For example, an ISP may slow down or shut off your entire Internet connection, and a website may block all traffic coming from known VPN servers. Governments can also block connections to VPN servers, locking users in to the local network. Due to the way the Internet is designed, it is not always possible for VPN services like ProtonVPN to circumvent these blocks.
There’s also the matter of using a trustworthy VPN provider. A VPN will never make you totally anonymous because the VPN provider will always know your IP address (at a minimum), and will always be able to view and store your Internet activity if it wants to. Many providers claim they do not store logs of your history, but this is only a promise; it’s technically impossible to create a completely private VPN service. In fact, some VPN services are actually malicious, or have lied to their users about their no logs policy.
An alarming number of VPN services actually do more harm than good, according to an independent study released last year. Thirty-eight percent of the apps they reviewed contain malware or malvertising, and 18% don’t even encrypt users’ data.
That’s why VPN trust is essential. We’ve published a guide on how to determine whether a VPN provider is trustworthy. We are also the only VPN provider to have published our VPN threat model so that our users understand precisely what ProtonVPN can and can’t protect against.
To start using ProtonVPN, click the signup button below (it’s free). Or if you already have a free account, consider upgrading to take advantage of our advanced security features.
As a community-supported project, we rely on support from paid users to keep the service running and provide free VPN to millions around the world. Thanks to your support, we are expanding our service and making a secure, private Internet a reality again.
The ProtonVPN Team
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