It’s hard to get around on the Internet safely today. Sure, we all, by this point, know what not to search for and what websites not to visit. It’s a little harder, however, to ensure that all the information you want to ensure remains private actually does remain private. It’s more than just keeping sensitive information off your Facebook and Google+ profiles – far more. You see, every time you open up a web browser, you send detailed information about your computer, who and where you are, and what your surfing habits are to anyone who’s listening. No, they aren’t actually using their ears but tapping onto the data stream that is being transmitted/received from your internet connection.
Of course, it would be weird if someone was always listening. Usually, no one’s paying any attention. But sometimes, someone is. And you can never really tell when. This is the problem: You could be sending valuable information – packages that contain passwords, credit card details, etc. – right to someone other than the party you intended to share the information with, and not only would you not know, you wouldn’t even think about it. VPN routers have been developed such that you don’t even have to worry about such things. Let’s take a look at how they work, and why they’re such great ideas for those who want serious privacy on the most open platform in the world.
The Normal Package Exchange Procedure
Normally, when you want to visit a website or get data from somewhere on the web (say, to check email or weather forecasts), you’ll send an unencrypted package from your computer to the server that hosts the website you’re trying to access. This package contains your computer’s IP address, information that encodes what operating system you’re using, and even what browser, as well as the specific information you wanted from the target server. Now, in practice, this simple exchange of packages works quite well – people enjoy fast Internet connections and highly efficient surfing because it’s so simple – but it’s also easy to manipulate.
You see, if someone intercepts the request you send out, they get immediate access to all the information we discussed above, and more, depending on the nature of the request. So, how do we get around this?
VPN – Staying Anonymous While Connected
Using a VPN – or, virtual private network – is an easy way to circumvent the privacy issues that arise from such a simple package exchange algorithm. When you use a VPN, your computer sends out an encrypted request; an intermediary server receives that request; and then, that intermediary server reaches out to the target server. From there, the target server sends the intermediate the data, which then forwards it to you.
This way, if someone’s listening, all they can “hear” is an encrypted message they can’t decode. And even if they can decode it, chances are, they’ll catch one of the packages moving between the intermediate server and the target server. This means that, in the best case scenario (for them), all they get access to is the location and identity of the target and intermediate servers, neither of which can be linked back to you by third parties.
There are a number of ways to go about installing a VPN. Some are pretty complicated (those that involve a manual setup), but others are much easier. One of the simplest ways to set up a VPN is to purchase a VPN router, which is an Internet router that already has VPN set up on it. This way, you can enjoy utmost security without having to worry about anyone seeing who you are, or where you are, no matter where you’re surfing the web, all without having to worry about the technical details yourself.
Another advantage to VPN routers is the fact that you can run several different devices through them. This means you can hook up your computer to the router, but also your PS4; XBox 360; and even your smart TV, if you have one. This way, all the information you send through the web, no matter which device you’re using, will be safe. This is highly important, considering the sensitive nature of much of the information that we send throughout the web.
At the end of the day, it’s impossible to claim that not using a VPN is, in any way, safe. On the other hand, it might be reasonable not to use one, given the difficulty one might have in setting up the network, configuring it properly, etc. The development of VPN routers, however, make the entire process much, much easier. There’s no need to go through nitty-gritty details, since all you need to do is set it up the same way you’d set up any router. This makes a VPN router a great choice for anyone interested in protecting themselves on the web.