What is a vpn

Protocols are vital to a VPN’s security, and you can use different ones based on your preference. I recommend you look for services that offer OpenVPN, IKEv2, or WireGuard.

What is a VPN? Virtual Private Networks 101

A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a tool that encrypts your internet traffic and hides your IP (Internet Protocol) address to ensure a secure and private connection to the internet. This encryption prevents third parties from snooping or collecting data about your activity because all information stays hidden behind a code.

  • Make your browsing private
  • Hide your IP (Internet Protocol) address
  • Stop your internet provider from tracking you

So, what can a VPN do for you?

Enhance your security

By encrypting your traffic, a VPN protects you from a range of cyberattacks. It’s especially useful if you use public Wi-Fi, as it poses more threats than your home network.

Overcome oppressive censorship

Some oppressive governments heavily censor the use of the internet. A VPN can help you overcome these restrictions and enjoy the best that the World Wide Web has to offer.

Protect your privacy

Surfshark pairs secure encryption with a strict no-logs policy to keep you safe from advertisers, ISPs (Internet Service Providers), and any other third parties looking to profit from your data.

Improve online gaming

Online games can leak just as much precious data as surfing the web does. Use a VPN to make sure that does not happen, and protect yourself from data leaks, DDoS attacks, and ISP throttling when gaming.

Stream content safely

Not only does a VPN keep you private when you’re watching your favorite shows online, but it can also help overcome ISP throttling. The result — a secure and buffer-free viewing experience.

Reduce price discrimination

Some websites use your location and cookies to tailor prices for their goods or services. With a VPN, you can avoid such marketing practices and save a buck when shopping online.

Interested in more details? Read our article on VPN benefits !

Disclaimer : We prohibit using Surfshark services for any unlawful purposes as it is against our Terms of Service. Please be sure to act in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations of streaming service providers.

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How does a VPN work?

  1. VPN creates a secure connection

By connecting to the internet with a VPN, you establish a secure virtual tunnel between your device and the internet via a VPN server. This tunnel is then used to transfer all your internet traffic.

  1. VPN changes your IP address

Once your internet traffic goes through the VPN tunnel, your IP address changes. Instead of seeing your IP address, the websites and services you visit see the IP address of the VPN server.

A VPN encrypts all your traffic to make sure the tunneling process is secure. The encryption hides your data under a code so that no third parties can access your sensitive information.

Understanding the basics of a VPN

What is a VPN tunnel?

What is a VPN tunnel?

A VPN tunnel is a secure connection between your device and the internet . Tunneling relies on encapsulation , which hides VPN communications on the public internet. So if someone were to check your internet connection, they’d see that you are using a VPN, but not what you’re doing.

What is a VPN server?

A VPN server is just a standard internet server configured with VPN software . Your traffic is first routed through the server before it reaches the internet. This allows the VPN to hide your actual IP address and keep your data protected from snoopers.

What is a VPN server?

What is an IP address?

What is an IP address?

An Internet Protocol (IP) address is a digital label used to achieve communication between networks. It’s used to identify you and your location in the network . A VPN hides your IP address, which prevents websites from gathering information about you.

What is encryption?

VPNs use encryption to encode and secure your data . The VPN client and server generate a key when you connect to a VPN. The key is used to encode and decode your data every time it travels through an encrypted tunnel. No third parties have the key, so your data looks like gibberish if they try to intercept your connection.

The security of the encryption depends on the cipher that’s used. The AES 256-bit cipher is considered the best encryption algorithm and is used by the US government, the NSA, and reliable VPN service providers, including Surfshark.

What does a VPN hide?

A VPN hides and encrypts all your internet traffic. This includes your IP address, location, the websites you visit, and what you do on those websites. That said, a VPN cannot hide any information that you choose to show, such as social media posts or the information you provide to register on websites.

Can you hide this? With a VPN Without a VPN
IP address Hidden Exposed
Location Hidden Exposed
Browsing habits Hidden Exposed
Internet traffic Encrypted Exposed
Email you use to register Exposed Exposed
Credit card information used for purchases Exposed Exposed
Googling when signed in to your Google account Exposed Exposed
Information you put on social media Exposed Exposed
Targeted ads Minimal Very frequent

If you’d like to know more, read our article on what a VPN hides .

Does a VPN make you fully anonymous?

No, a VPN does not make you totally anonymous . In fact, there is no way you can be fully anonymous on the web. What you can do is significantly enhance your online privacy with a VPN . While it doesn’t hide all the traces of your internet use, it encrypts your data, hides your IP, and protects you from trackers.

How secure is a VPN?

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How secure is a VPN?

A VPN is very secure if it uses the best encryption & connection protocols, as Surfshark does.

Most security measures are made to be too tedious to crack. For example, an encrypted session could take trillions of years to decode (depending on the computer used).

Even if someone managed to crack the encryption, many VPN providers like Surfshark have implemented something called Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS). This means that a VPN client generates a new key every 7 minutes or so. This keeps your private data out of bad actors’ reach.

What are the types of VPNs?

While there is no hard-and-fast ISO-approved classification of VPN types , here are the currently agreed-upon definitions:

Remote access VPN

A remote access VPN allows the user to connect to a remote network securely. It helps simulate the level of security you’d have by connecting to that network from a safe location. Since work-from-home has become more common, this VPN type has seen a huge rise in popularity as it allows employees to establish a secure connection to a remote work network.

Site-to-site VPN

Site-to-site VPNs connect intranets to networks. This is useful for large companies with offices all over the world. While the office intranets are spread out all over the place, the site-to-site VPN connects them into a single, seamless network that employees can use without having to configure and connect to other networks.

Personal VPN

Personal VPNs are meant for individual users. Instead of connecting to a different network, it connects users to a VPN server in a secure, encrypted manner. The benefit of this is that when a user accesses a website or service with a personal VPN, said website or service thinks they’re connecting from the VPN server, not their home network. Surfshark and most other popular VPNs are personal VPNs.

VPN protocols

VPN protocols don’t significantly impact your connection’s speed, stability, and security. However, they determine how your VPN connections work from start to finish. While quite a few VPN protocols exist, here are some of the best ones to use right now:

OpenVPN

OpenVPN is an open-source VPN protocol. It’s fast, secure, and compatible with many routers. Because it is open-sourced, its code has been examined through and through by cybersecurity experts worldwide. It’s a trusted workhorse but tends to perform worse than IKEV2 and WireGuard.

Available on: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, and BSD.

Supported by Surfshark: Yes

WireGuard®

WireGuard® is a relatively new protocol built to surpass OpenVPN and IPSec in power use and performance with only 4,000 lines of code. As it stands, WireGuard is the fastest VPN protocol available today.

Available on: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, and others.

Supported by Surfshark: Yes

IKEv2/IPSec

Internet Key Exchange version 2 (IKEv2) is on par with WireGuard’s quality. It can outperform other protocols in terms of speed when switching networks and at shorter distance connections, making it popular among mobile users.

Available on: macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, Blackberry, Unix, and others.

Supported by Surfshark: Yes

How to pick a VPN service

Now that you’ve decided you need a VPN, you should know what to look for when choosing a provider. Here are the essential things to look out for:

Server coverage

A strong VPN provider should have good worldwide VPN server coverage. This will give you more locations to choose from and will decrease server load.

VPN encryption

A secure VPN encryption algorithm is essential. Make sure to look for the AES-256 cipher — a current standard in the industry.

Server load

If there aren’t enough servers to balance the user load, connection speeds will suffer and become slow.

VPN protocols

Protocols are vital to a VPN’s security, and you can use different ones based on your preference. I recommend you look for services that offer OpenVPN, IKEv2, or WireGuard.

MultiHop

MultiHop is a VPN feature that directs your traffic through several servers simultaneously. It is not essential, but it can give your online security an extra kick.

Obfuscated VPN servers

When you connect to an obfuscated server, your traffic seems like regular internet traffic. This helps to bypass VPN blockers and protects you from oppressive governments.

Device support

Before purchasing a VPN, make sure it supports the device you wish to secure. Surfshark supports all major platforms, such as iOS, macOS, Android, Windows, Linux, and more.

RAM-only servers

RAM-only servers are becoming a staple for any good VPN service. When running on RAM, servers automatically wipe all the data whenever they’re turned off.

The Privacy Policy

A solid Privacy Policy is one of the most important parts of any VPN service. It’s an immediate red flag if your VPN provider does not have a Privacy Policy or if they’re logging sensitive information without any stated reason.

What is a vpn

Об этой странице

Мы зарегистрировали подозрительный трафик, исходящий из вашей сети. С помощью этой страницы мы сможем определить, что запросы отправляете именно вы, а не робот. Почему это могло произойти?

Эта страница отображается в тех случаях, когда автоматическими системами Google регистрируются исходящие из вашей сети запросы, которые нарушают Условия использования. Страница перестанет отображаться после того, как эти запросы прекратятся. До этого момента для использования служб Google необходимо проходить проверку по слову.

Источником запросов может служить вредоносное ПО, подключаемые модули браузера или скрипт, настроенный на автоматических рассылку запросов. Если вы используете общий доступ в Интернет, проблема может быть с компьютером с таким же IP-адресом, как у вас. Обратитесь к своему системному администратору. Подробнее.

Проверка по слову может также появляться, если вы вводите сложные запросы, обычно распространяемые автоматизированными системами, или же вводите запросы очень часто.

What is a vpn

Об этой странице

Мы зарегистрировали подозрительный трафик, исходящий из вашей сети. С помощью этой страницы мы сможем определить, что запросы отправляете именно вы, а не робот. Почему это могло произойти?

Эта страница отображается в тех случаях, когда автоматическими системами Google регистрируются исходящие из вашей сети запросы, которые нарушают Условия использования. Страница перестанет отображаться после того, как эти запросы прекратятся. До этого момента для использования служб Google необходимо проходить проверку по слову.

Источником запросов может служить вредоносное ПО, подключаемые модули браузера или скрипт, настроенный на автоматических рассылку запросов. Если вы используете общий доступ в Интернет, проблема может быть с компьютером с таким же IP-адресом, как у вас. Обратитесь к своему системному администратору. Подробнее.

Проверка по слову может также появляться, если вы вводите сложные запросы, обычно распространяемые автоматизированными системами, или же вводите запросы очень часто.