Chances are, you have used a virtual private network (VPN) at some point in your life and just don’t know it. VPNs started as a way for businesses to allow employees to access their private networks remotely while still keeping the network secure. Since then, VPNs have exploded in popularity with consumers, as they can offer unparalleled Web-browsing security and a host of other benefits.
If you’re not using a VPN, you’re not only missing out on these perks but also putting your privacy at risk. Keep in mind, though, that not all VPNs are created equal — your VPN is only as trustworthy as the company that provides it.
What is VPN?
Think of surfing the Web without a VPN like driving a car on an open highway. Your license plate identifies who your vehicle belongs to, much like an IP address tells all the websites you visit exactly where and who you are. When you drive out in the open, your vehicle is vulnerable to carjackings, surveillance cameras, snoops, etc.
Now think of a VPN like traveling in a dark, underground tunnel. No one can see where you’re going or where you came from. Your license plate, or IP address, is also invisible, allowing you to browse anonymously.
How Does a VPN Work?
You’ve probably heard of a firewall that protects information on your computer. A VPN does the same sort of thing, but online. A VPN enables users to access private networks securely and exchange data remotely through public networks (the Internet). For that reason, corporations were the first major users of VPNs. However, savvy, privacy-conscious consumers have begun using VPNs increasingly, as well, to protect their browsing behavior and personal data.
When you connect to a VPN, your computer swaps trusted keys with a remote server. When both computers have authenticated each other’s identities, the VPN sends all of your Web traffic from your device to your Internet gateway through an encrypted “tunnel.” Because the data within the tunnel is encrypted, even if hackers or identity thieves managed to siphon off some of the transmitted information, they still won’t be able to access it.
What Does a VPN Do?
The impervious digital tunnel that a VPN creates keeps hackers, identity thieves, snoops, and ISPs from spying on your Web surfing, instant messages, email, financial information, log-in credentials, credit card numbers, and anything else you transmit online. In addition to protecting you from harmful online threats, a VPN can give you access to blocked websites around the world. For example, if your employer or school blocks Facebook or YouTube, using a VPN will give you access. The same goes for TV shows and movies in other countries. Here is a summary of VPN’s other capabilities:
- Shield your IP address. Your browsing history stays private and prevents spammers and hackers from tracking your activities. You can surf the Web anonymously.
- Surf securely in public hotspots. Your information is especially vulnerable when you use public Wi-Fi networks. A VPN gives you encrypted anonymity to shield your data from spies.
- HTTPS encryption. Any financial data you transmit when shopping or banking online is protected with HTTPS encryption. Hotspot automatically turns all HTTP traffic into HTTPS.
Why Hotspot Shield?
You know now why a VPN is essential to your personal security, but you can’t just trust any VPN provider blindly. Your VPN is only as secure and reliable as the company it comes from. This is where AnchorFree’s Hotspot Shield VPN sets itself apart from the rest of the pack. Unlike other VPN providers, AnchorFree owns its own servers. If you do your research, you will find that most fly-by-night VPN providers use external servers, which means the security of your personal data is in a third party’s hands.
Second, the reason some disreputable providers are able to offer free VPN services is because they make their money tracking and selling their users’ activities. Many VPN providers keep detailed logs of their users’ online behavior so they can sell that information to third parties for marketing purposes. Hotspot Shield neither tracks nor sells customers’ information.
Hotspot Shield was developed by AnchorFree, a trusted, venture-funded software company in Silicon Valley. Founded in 2005, Hotspot Shield was one of the first consumer VPN services on the market. Today, Hotspot Shield remains the most popular consumer VPN, with over 350 million downloads for desktops, tablets, and mobile. AnchorFree owns an array of software-related patents, thanks to our dedicated team of engineers who work hard to serve the 1.6 billion Internet users around the world. At AnchorFree, we believe all Web users deserve browsing privacy, security, and freedom to access the content they choose.
A VPN is an affordable way to keep your browsing activity private and unlock Web content from all over the world. However, indiscriminately selecting a VPN provider could end up jeopardizing rather than protecting your private data. When choosing a VPN, go with an established company you can count on. Hotspot Shield protects its customers’ data with privately owned servers and offers the most trusted VPN application on the market for over 10 years now.