What is VPN?

What is a VPN and why is it important? How do VPNs work? Are VPNs legal? What are dVPNs? Why should you use Mysterium VPN.

September 1, 2021

‍The internet was not built to be private and secure by default. Data protection and privacy are critical today. Our lives depend a lot on the internet. And though the internet is a good place to be, it is also full of dangers lurking at every corner. This means no matter what you do online, there’s always some new malware or cybercriminal trying to get to you. A VPN is the most effective and easiest way for people to protect their internet activity and identity private online. 

Companies are stealing your information and your ISP is tracking the sites you visit. Government agencies are snooping in on your connection and bots are scraping the internet to gather pieces of information on you that can easily identify you and even predict your behavior by analyzing your browsing patterns.

Dark times indeed. Enter VPN.

What is a VPN?

A VPN (virtual private network) is the most effective and easiest way for people to protect their internet activity and identity private online. It helps achieve anonymity and privacy online by rerouting and encrypting your internet traffic. Essentially, VPNs bounce your internet activity across multiple IP addresses so that your location cannot be traced and your internet activity cannot be monitored by anyone, including hackers, governments, third-party browsers, and internet service providers. 

Every device has an IP address. When you connect to the internet and access a webpage, two things happen:

1. Your client (usually a browser or an app) makes a “request” to the website’s server that hosts said page.

2. The server then greenlights the connection and sends the files to the client. The files include the webpage itself (code and scripts), images, resources, and other assets.

In this process, the server and its components, as well as the internet service provider (ISP) that is providing the internet service, can both know and track where the request is originating from simply because they need the client's IP address to facilitate the transfer of information over the internet.

To simplify things, the websites you access, your ISP, and any third-party tracker on websites can know where are you browsing from.

The IP address is associated with a physical location (called geolocation). You can Google “what is my IP” and find out your publicly visible IP address.

VPN is an acronym for virtual private networks. By setting up a VPN on a device you are accessing the server from a different IP address. The ISP, the website, and any third parties can no longer associate your browsing with your physical address.

Why are VPNs important?

VPN’s add an extra layer of privacy and anonymity. They are important for encrypting your internet activity and data confidentiality by rerouting your internet traffic through a different location. 

VPNs ensure data confidentiality. They protect you against online threats such as 3rd part trackers and data collection. Because they encrypt your activity and traffic, VPNs also protect users against internet service providers tracking and selling your internet data to advertisers.

What are some advantages to using a VPN?

Identity protection from bad agents

Your IP address is a vital piece of information that can enable any snooper, tracker, or ISP to learn about your physical location and what you are browsing.

VPNs make your actual location impossible to figure out by routing your requests and traffic via different devices placed in different countries.

Better quality and speed

Having a VPN connection closer to the source, be it your friend sharing their recent holiday videos or running a small gaming server, can dramatically increase the streaming speed and provide lag-free gaming experience.

Say goodbye to ISP throttling

The internet service providers (ISPs) that connect you to the internet place speed caps on streaming content, as they can identify what type of content you’re accessing. Especially during peak times, they can make streaming slower. Using a VPN makes the ISP oblivious of the nature of the content you’re accessing, allowing you to stream at the maximum possible speeds.

Secure and private browsing

Using a VPN while browsing, online shopping and streaming provides an extra layer of privacy and anonymity. You can be online knowing that your history will not be logged and your connection is secure.

How do VPNs work?

Every device you use connects to the internet with an IP address that can be used to trace your internet activity and location. A VPN anonymises your IP and encrypts your traffic, so you're safer on public wifi networks.

A VPN application will run the background of your device, whether it be a mobile, tablet, computer or browser extension, while you access sites around the world.

A VPN reroutes your traffic through one or more IP addresses, shadowing your original one. VPN companies usually have thousands of servers (IP addresses) located all over the globe. When you connect to a VPN, your traffic "exits" through a different server (or multiple).

The VPN provider will keep you hidden and encrypt all of your data. You can usually choose from a list of servers or locations across the world, so you’re able to access the internet via a secure and private connection.

In some cases, a VPN service can provide a shorter pathway to connect to a destination server by connecting you to a server that’s physically closer to the destination – thus speeding things up. However, sometimes these jumps can actually degrade the speed of your access and also the stability of your connection itself.

What are the different types of VPN?

There are two main types of VPNs: remote access VPNs and site-to-site access VPNs.

Remote access VPNs allow you to connect to a location remotely. This type of VPN is also most widespread commercially. Many companies use remote access VPNs to allow their employees to access the company network, data and resources from anywhere.

Site-to-site access VPNS allow users in specific locations to access other’s networks securely. This type of VPN is mostly used by larger corporations to connect branches and safely share data and resources across multiple offices in different locations.

Another important differentiating factor amongst VPNS is the type of protocol they use.

What is a VPN protocol?

A VPN protocol is the set of instructions or standards that determine how your personal data routes between your personal device and the VPN server.

Different protocols specialize in different benefits and have unique qualities that offers different advantages to the VPN user based on their device and what they’re using it for.

For example, some may prioritize connectivity speeds, for quick surfing and gaming. Some others emphasise security and data confidentiality over anything else, like payments, banking or online shopping.

The most common VPN protocols are OpenVPN, IPSec/IKEv2, Wireguard, SSTP, L2TP/IPSec and PPTP.

Are VPNs legal?

VPNs are legal and are used all around the world by individuals and companies alike, to safeguard confidential information and online activity. 

Companies, government institutions and individuals popularly use VPNs to safeguard internet privacy and access open information.

However, illegal online activity remains illegal, regardless of whether a VPN is used. 

Read more about the legality of VPNs.

How do I get and use a VPN?

Step 1: Buy your Mysterium VPN subscription with monthly, 6 month and one year plans.

Step 2: Download Mysterium VPN for all your devices.

Step 3: Choose any one of our 20,000+ IP addresses around the world and enjoy secure access to the global Internet!

What are some alternatives to VPNs?

The internet was not built to be private and secure by default. This means no matter what you do online, there’s always some risk associated.

Two other ways to protect your digital presence, in addition to using a VPN, is by using a Tor browser, or a decentralized VPN solution. 

Tor is an open-source and free browser that enables anonymous communication online. It was originally called The Onion Router (Tor) project, due to its “layers” of encryption. Tor uses a system originally developed by the US Navy to protect intelligence communications. It “bundles” your data into smaller, encrypted packets before it begins routing these through its vast network of nodes, which can be run by anyone for free.

Tor browser and VPNs are similar in their aims but not in their technological approach. While both are great at hiding your identity and ensure your browsing activity is kept private and encrypted, there are certain advantages and disadvantages to each. That’s why using the two systems together is your safest bet for securing your digital privacy.

Another option is using a dVPN. A decentralized VPN mimics the architecture of Tor more closely, but has the same ease of use as a VPN. As a peer to peer system, you plug into a global network of nodes run by people voluntarily.

Unlike Tor network, all nodes are paid for providing the VPN service and keeping the network powered and safe. More on dVPNs below.

What are dVPNs?

In short, dVPNs are a peer to peer (P2P) system, where you plug into a global network of servers run by people voluntarily. P2P networks (and P2P software) allows 2 devices (and therefore, two people) to communicate directly, without necessitating a third party to ensure it happens.

In a P2P network, every device acts as a server to connect to the internet. All of the servers are paid for providing the VPN service and keeping the network powered and safe. 

A traditional VPN works by routing your internet requests through various servers. This sometimes allows you to get a shorter connection to the destination content. But any company operating a VPN service can still log and even sell the data of which users browse which websites. Though many services claim to have a “strict no-logs policy”, there have been multiple news reports that suggest otherwise.

What if you had a VPN service that is not controlled by a company?  Everyday web users, such as you and me, can install an app on our device (such as a phone or a PC) and contribute to a collective network, renting our internet access to others who need secure, encyrpted, private internet access.

dVPNs offer increased efficiency (better speeds thanks to even shorter pathways between the client and the destination server) and security (thanks to no company being able to log your data).

This isn’t new technology either. If you know about Tor, you are already familiar with this arrangement.

Mysterium is just one of the VPN providers plugged into a peer-to-peer VPN network. It reroutes your internet activity, not through servers, but IP addresses offered by a global community.

Traditional VPNs run on centralized infrastructure, which means one point of failure. At Mysterium, there is no central point of control or anywhere to store your logs. As a result, we can’t track or keep logs of your traffic, even if we wanted to.

Key features of Mysterium VPN

Hide your IP address from everyone - even from us

No logs. No footprints. Mysterium VPN couldn't track your logs even if we wanted to. Make your search, download and message history forever private.

Encryption by default

Go about your daily messaging, banking, browsing and surfing, with 24/7 encryption. Protect your online activity through a truly secure decentralized VPN.

Connect with hyper speeds

Need for speed? Experience zero interruptions or throttling while gaming or video calling.

Affordable and flexible

Only $4.99 per month when you subscribe for 1 year. Choose from all popular payment methods.

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