What Does a VPN Hide? (Explained)

by Sachin

When you are looking for privacy, it is not enough to just keep clearing your browser history or use Incognito or other “hidden” types of browsing, instead you need something that is more comprehensive, and shields all of your private information from not just your Internet Service Provider (ISP) but also whatever governmental entity is in charge of where you live. Depending on your browsing habits, your ISP and the government could be very interested in what you are doing, and many governments will compel your ISP to hand them over your browsing information. Conversely, many ISPs will track your activity and note where you are going and what you are doing. This is also not optimal even if the government is not interested.

However, what are you to do if it is not just your computer that you want to protect but your mobile phone as well? The thing is your mobile phone provider is just as interested in your browsing activity as your ISP. Especially if you use Android, Google knows what you are doing and where you are doing it. The VPN (or Virtual Private Network) is the solution for making sure that your information remains truly private. If you are on a mobile, here is a VPN list for Android by websafetyadvice.com so you can make the best choice for your needs. Once you choose the VPN, you will be delighted when you find out all the things the VPN hides. Here’s a short list.

Your IP Address

Whenever you do anything on the internet – even something simple like sending out a tweet – your IP address is logged and checked. This is problematic because your IP address unlocks pretty much everything you do. A site can easily check the times you visit it and what you do there, and a government entity can look up your browsing action. Your IP address is an anchor around your neck in terms of privacy, and you need to take steps to shield it.

Naturally you’re wondering how a VPN hides your IP address. There are two functions deriving from the same starting place. When you fire up your computer, or phone, and connect with your VPN, you are given a dummy IP address. This dummy IP will take the place of your actual IP address. Whatever sites you visit will have no clue what your actual IP address is, and they will just log the dummy IP address. This is great for the privacy you need. As for your ISP and the government tracking what your IP address does, well, all the VPN provides in terms of data is an unintelligible stream of numbers and letters. Many times, this doesn’t even encrypt actual data, just turns the data into something useless for them to pore over.

Geographic Location

If you live in the United States or any country that is developed, modern, and has lax laws about the internet, then you don’t need to worry too much about where you go online and what you do. But, if you live in a country like the United Arab Emirates or you are in China, then your internet activity is severely restricted. Your IP address’s origin tells sites whether you are allowed to access them and download their information to your computer. If you are in a restrictive country, this means something simple, like streaming Netflix, is virtually impossible.

The VPN helps by connecting you to a server outside of the country, so your IP address will reflect a different country of origin rather than the country you are in. This masking of your geographic location is also helpful when you want to see content that isn’t licensed to your country. For example, an American seeking to watch Sky Sports coverage of the English Premier League will be blocked, so they will use a VPN that shows their origin as within the UK, thus unlocking the Sky Sports coverage.

Your Personal Information

You hear all the time that you should not connect to an unsecured public WiFi because there could be hackers lurking that can drop malware on your computer. But what if you are in the middle of a department store and you have no reception? The truth is sometimes you must connect to these networks because you have no reception. That said, a VPN can do a lot to keep your information private.

VPNs use a process called tunneling. What tunneling does is encrypt your data. Here is what the hacker sees: as they look at the different browsing patterns, they can distinguish between hard and soft targets. A hard target has an encrypted connection. Encryption is a series of letters and numbers – usually 128 or 256 in length – and what they do is create a barrier between your data and what is seen by everyone on the network. These encryption codes are essentially unbreakable. Which means you can browse on a public network without having to worry about your personal data is at risk.

What You Do On Your Phone

The thing about your mobile phone is that if you have several WiFi connections the phone remembers them all. So, a simple trip to Starbucks and then to work means that you may encounter at least 3 different WiFi networks. In between, you are connected to a mobile network. Unless you are on a VPN the whole time, your mobile data is available for everyone to see – including your geographic location. So, if someone is sitting on your house looking to burglarize it and they have some sophistication, this means they can see when you are not home.

The VPN protects your phone as you transition between each network. As you leave the mobile network for WiFi, the VPN stays put, meaning that regardless of the transition between the networks, you are constantly protected. For people on the go, having your mobile data – some of your most personal data – kept private is of great importance. 


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