What is VPN?

‍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 dumb things down, the website you access, your ISP, and any third-party tracker on the said website (such as Google Analytics or Facebook Pixel code) 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 and consequently, your physical location.

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 are important for encrypting your internet activity and data confidentiality and rerouting your internet traffic and location. 

Individuals use VPNs to keep their digital identities private while also opening up access to sites, content and services that might otherwise be geo-restricted. Corporations use VPN to connect employees across different locations as if they were all connecting from a central office’s local network. 

VPNs ensure data confidentiality. They protect you against online threats such as hacking and identity theft. Because they encrypt your activity and traffic, VPNs also protect users against internet service providers tracking and selling your internet data to advertisers.

But that’s not all. Can't find a movie in your local Netflix library? Is twitter banned in your country?

VPNs are helpful and legal workarounds to content restrictions. Just download a VPN service and choose a country IP address to connect from, breaking free from geo-blocked content restrictions. 

What are some advantages to using a VPN?

No geolocation restrictions

VPNs spoof your location, thus making sure that the service provider has no clue about where you’re accessing from. This allows you to access any content from any region in the world regardless of whether or not it’s blocked or restricted there.

Identity protection from bad agents

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

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

Better quality and speed

Streaming and browsing on a VPN connection can improve your overall experience in many cases. When the server you’re connected to is close to the region where the content is, you’ll gain a better speed and quality than on a normal connection.

Without a VPN connection, the routing of content from a service provider can make streaming slow, for example. If the VPN is closer to the source and you’re directly connected to it, you’ll experience a boost in the speed and the quality of a stream.

Say goodbye to ISP throttling

The internet service providers (ISPs) that own your internet connection place maximum speed caps on streaming content, making streaming slower, while the rest of your internet usage (like browsing) is unaffected. It happens because ISPs can identify what type of content you’re accessing. Using a VPN makes the ISP oblivious of the nature of the content you’re accessing or streaming, allowing you to access it at the maximum permissible speed.

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 traffic and poses a potential threat to data confidentiality. A VPN encrypts your unique IP address to protect against such risks. 

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 works much like making your signal/request jump between multiple IP addresses. Companies that provide VPN services to users usually have thousands, if not more, of servers placed all over the globe. When you request a webpage using this VPN service, your connection request jumps from server to server until finally reaching the destination.

The VPN provider will keep you hidden and encrypt all of your data, directing all your traffic to a remote server owned or hired by them. You can usually choose from a list of servers located across the world, so you’re able to access the internet via a secure and private connection, and unblock your content based on where a website is located. 

Even if a government agency tries very hard to ascertain the source of a request made through a multi-server jump, they will only be able to go a few steps behind. A good VPN service will make your connection jump between multiple servers to fully cloak the real IP address.

That’s pretty much how a VPN works.

If the Netflix server is placed in the US and you are accessing it from Brazil, then your client basically makes a request from Brazil to the US. Using a VPN, your connection might jump from Brazil to Poland to Singapore and finally to the destination server in the US.

In many cases, a VPN service can provide a shorter pathway to connect to a destination server by connecting you directly to a server that’s physically closer to the destination – thus speeding things up. For the most part, however, these jumps always degrade the speed of your access and also the stability of your connection itself in many cases.

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 network in a specific location remotely. This type of VPN is also most widespread commercially and amongst smaller companies. Many companies use remote access VPNs to allow their employees to access the company network, data and resources from anywhere. You also use a remote access VPN when you want to trick your Netflix into thinking that you’re in a different country. 

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 privacy while others emphasis connectivity speed. VPN servers use different protocols depending on the device you're using, what you want to do on the internet and how you want to do it.

A simple example, say your at home binge-watching the last season of Game of Thrones. You might want to opt for a VPN using a protocol favoring fast speed over privacy. This way, you can emerge yourself fully in Westeros, rather than constantly pausing and waiting for the next five minutes to load. 

On the other hand, when your doing things online where you value data confidentiality over anything else, like payments, banking or shopping, you might want to choose a VPN utilizing a protocol emphasizing security.

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 confidentiality and internet privacy while also using VPNs to access information and content to ensure their competitive edge vis-a-vis the rest of the world.

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

Read more about the legality of VPNs.

How to use a VPN correctly?

You can use a free VPN for specific requirements, such as browsing a particular website.

However, a glaring drawback of using free VPNs for your everyday internet access such as Googling the reason behind a strange symptom (which will almost always lead to cancer, be warned) is the sluggish speed.

VPN connections have a lower speed as your internet traffic is jumping from server to server thousands of miles apart to reach the destination (and then coming back with the data).

If you can get your hands on a service that’s not so slow (usually paid VPNs) then you have pretty much hit the jackpot.

​​We would recommend you go one step further and choose a decentralised VPN, dVPN, service. 

How do I get and use a VPN?

Step 1: Download and install Mysterium VPN suitable for your device.

Step 2: Complete your onboarding process and set up your MysteriumVPN account.

Step 3: Choose any one of our 1000+ servers around the world and enjoy unrestricted secure access to the 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 new malware or cybercriminal trying to get to you.

Two other ways to protect your digital presence, in addition to using a VPN, is by using a Tor browser, or a dVPN 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 system, where you plug into a global network of servers run by people voluntarily. Servers around the world combine their traffic and communicate using a peer to peer network. 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. Combined with blockchain technology, these servers can then act as VPNs. 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 paid 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? Common people such as you and me can install an app on our device (such as a phone or a PC) and build a collective network, renting our internet access to others who need VPNs and using others’ nodes to access the internet privately ourselves.

Of course, we also need to include some sort of incentives for people who run these nodes and keep their devices connected to the internet for the overall security and efficiency of the whole network.

Sounds like the perfect way to use the internet, doesn’t it? This is precisely what dVPNs are. As they are run by many independent nodes as compared to a centrally-controlled server list of a conventional VPN service, they are a “decentralized” network.

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. What’s truly groundbreaking is the way in which newer dVPN service providers operate. One of the most efficient and secure of the lot, Mysterium VPN, not only incentivizes people operating nodes but also allows them to use the service on a pay-as-you-use model (no subscriptions) and pay using cryptocurrencies instead of credit cards (thus improving privacy further).

Mysterium VPN is a decentralized VPN. We reroute your internet activity, not through servers, but nodes offered up by our community members.

Users with unused network traffic can sell their internet to the Mysterium marketplace as a node. Mysterium VPN users can then purchase these nodes to access the internet safely, privately and anonymously.

Traditional VPNs run on centralized infrastructure, which means one point of failure. At Mysterium, we're decentralized; 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 - Download now!

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. Protect your online activity through a truly secure decentralised VPN.

Connect from wherever you want to, to anywhere you want

Bypass all geo-blocks and regional restrictions by connecting with one of our 1000+ servers across 80 countries. Everything is now just one click away.

Pay-as-you-go in cryptocurrency

Mysterium VPN has no subscriptions and no monthly fees. Only pay per gigabyte of internet used and top up as you go.

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