What is a VPN and how does it work?

2 min
Tags: Swisscows VPN VPN VPN tunnel encrypted privacy IP address spying

Surfing, shopping, watching videos - with every online activity, users, knowingly or unknowingly, disclose a lot of information. Hackers use this information to gain access to data or to paralyze entire systems. Authorities, companies and institutions are also spying on Internet users for various reasons. To avoid these spying attempts, the use of a VPN has proven itself. 

What is a VPN?

VPN stands for virtual private network. A VPN is a service that establishes a secure and encrypted connection between an end device (e.g. a computer, smartphone or tablet) and a server on the internet. In this way, your IP address remains hidden from prying eyes. The most important task of a VPN is to enhance the security of the increasingly insecure Internet. Data is received and sent just as securely as in an isolated home network. A VPN protects your privacy for all online activities. 

How a VPN works

In order to use a VPN, the corresponding software or app must first be installed on the end device (computer, smartphone or tablet). The VPN software or app establishes an encrypted connection between the device and a VPN server. This can be located in the same country or in another country, depending on the purpose. This connection is also known as a VPN tunnel. It prevents third parties, such as internet providers, hackers or governments, from viewing or manipulating the data that flows through the tunnel. 

The VPN server forwards the data sent or received by the device to the websites and/or services accessed. In doing so, the VPN server replaces the IP address of the device with its own IP address. This means that the websites that are visited or the services that are used cannot recognize the true IP address of the end device or the true location of the device, but only the IP address and the location of the VPN server. 

The VPN server receives the data that is sent or received from websites or services and forwards it to the end device. The VPN server decrypts the data that flows through the VPN tunnel so that it can be read or processed by the user on the end device. 

Benefits of a VPN

Privacy protection is the main advantage of a VPN. Websites, services or third parties are not able to identify the user's location. There are also other advantages of a virtual private network. 

· More security: A VPN protects personal data from being accessed and stolen by third parties. The service can also ward off malware, phishing or other online threats by blocking potentially dangerous websites or content.

· More freedom: With a VPN, you can access content that would otherwise be unavailable due to geographical or political restrictions. A VPN can also increase internet speed by bypassing bandwidth limits or throttling by the internet provider.

· Shop cheaper: Many products are cheaper in other countries than at home. Bargain hunters can bypass country restrictions with a VPN and are able to search worldwide for the best price for an item or online service. 

Conclusion: A VPN is therefore a tried and tested tool for protecting your online privacy. With a Virtual Private Network you can hide your IP address and location, protect your data from being accessed or stolen by third parties and you can also access online content that would otherwise be unavailable due to geographical or political restrictions.