A virtual private network (VPN) is a tool that enables users to protect their privacy while using an internet connection. VPNs create an encrypted tunnel — a private link between your device and the VPN server.
Essentially, this private link or tunnel keeps external influences out and allows your data to travel in an encrypted manner, enhancing security. The network’s privacy also makes sure your Internet Protocol (IP) address and browsing history is hidden online.
[Text Wrapping Break]VPNs use several VPN protocols like OpenVPN, IPSec/IKEv2, PPTP, SSTP, and WireGuard to protect you. In particular, McAfee® Safe Connect VPN supports the OpenVPN protocol, which is an open-source and highly secure protocol running on TCP or UDP internet protocol and used by many VPN providers globally. [Text Wrapping Break][Text Wrapping Break]Read on to know more about how VPNs work and learn to install one.
What does a VPN do?
The best way to stay secure online is to minimize your digital footprint. A good VPN service allows you to do exactly this, acting as an additional layer of protection for your online activities.
The primary function of a VPN is encryption. Most websites and online browsers already have some form of encryption. For example, when you purchase something on Amazon, you have to enter your credit card details and address. Encryption creates a private tunnel for data transmission between your device and Amazon to make sure no one else can watch what you’re doing.
A VPN app does the same thing with an added level of security. The data that you pass to a VPN server is anonymized before it goes to the internet. In short, your device establishes an encrypted connection with the VPN server instead of connecting directly through the internet. So, the encryption protects your data and digital footprint from anyone outside the “private tunnel” between you and the secure VPN server.
Additionally, VPNs allow you to change or hide your IP address. An IP address is a number linked to a particular computer and network. Changing your IP address can trick the servers into thinking you’re connecting from a different geographical location. This can help improve security and provide additional benefits discussed below.
You can also use a VPN to hide your IP address. This may be helpful if you’re trying to access content from other countries (for example, Netflix may have different content in different countries) or trying to keep your internet search history away from the prying eyes of a third-party like your internet service provider or a government.
Using a VPN can help improve your online security. Nearly every internet activity — website and social media browsing, paying bills, online shopping, data sharing, and more — can be tracked by others. [Text Wrapping Break][Text Wrapping Break]Read on to learn about who typically uses a VPN and understand whether you should consider installing one.
Who typically uses VPNs?
Given the extra security that VPN connections provide, you can gain something from using a VPN client. So, if you’re an individual concerned about your online privacy or just want to browse online anonymously — consider using a VPN. A VPN enables you to use the internet without third parties seeing your identity or identifying you via your search history since they don’t know what you were searching about or using the internet for.
Big tech has had a long history of tracking private data for their gains. These companies regularly bundle data into coherent profiles and sell it to third parties. Additionally, they use private data to demonstrate targeted advertisements or manipulative content that makes you more likely to purchase their products. [Text Wrapping Break][Text Wrapping Break]So, it’s worthwhile to use a VPN if you regularly shop online or bank online. A VPN gives you that additional protection that can help prevent hackers or malicious third parties from accessing your information.[Text Wrapping Break][Text Wrapping Break]VPNs are excellent mechanisms for you to protect your privacy online. And you should consider your personal context and conduct thorough research to find the best VPN for your needs.
VPNs are particularly helpful if you travel a lot, either for business or for leisure. While traveling, it’s inevitable that you connect to random or unknown Wifi networks and it may be the case that these networks are spying on you. However, if you’re using a VPN to browse the web, these WiFi networks can’t track you or your search history. This ensures you maintain anonymity and are safe while using the internet.
Should you use a VPN on your personal computer?
Yes, an additional layer of protection to your online activities is always good practice. A VPN allows individuals using a personal computer to stay vigilant, protect their data, and maintain anonymity while allowing them to still enjoy their online experience.
Benefits of VPNs for personal use
VPNs provide more benefits than just serving as an additional layer for cybercriminals to pass through.
- Data privacy: The biggest reason to use a VPN is data privacy. Internet service providers (ISPs) regularly collect customer data and sell it to advertisers for money. Using a VPN allows you to hide your location and prevents your data from falling into the wrong hands. VPNs allow you to browse the internet in peace, knowing that no third parties are aware of your identity or can trace particular internet activity back to you.
- Security on public networks: Internet access through public Wi-Fi hotspots may not be the safest. User data on public networks is unprotected, making it vulnerable to bad actors who can use software to get past firewalls. With VPN encryption, you can remain safe even while using public Wi-Fi network connections.
- Secure online transactions: Think about the number of times you log into your bank account or give out credit card information on e-commerce sites. You can never be too safe when it comes to financial information.
- Change your location: Some content is geo-blocked for various reasons. It could be streaming services like Netflix limiting access to their services or different countries censoring content. VPNs can hide your IP address to trick servers into believing that your location is different from where your router is physically. This can give you access to a lot more content.
Can you set up a VPN yourself?
Depending on the VPN you’re using, it can be a straightforward process to connect a VPN to your Mac, Windows, iPhone, or Android mobile device. McAfee’s VPN works with multiple platforms and operating systems, including Microsoft Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS.
Secure your browsing with a VPN from McAfee
With McAfee +, you can minimize your digital footprint through a secure connection channel without compromising your browsing experience. Connect to public networks, make financial transactions online, and keep your personal data safe with McAfee.
With our bank-grade AES-256 bit encryption technology and automatic protection, McAfee VPN protection can help safeguard all your online activities — allowing you to enjoy the internet the way it was meant to be enjoyed.
Explore our full suite of cybersecurity tools included in McAfee +, including our newest service, Personal Data Cleanup. We can help find and remove your personal data on some of the riskiest data broker sites.