What’s a VPN? The Art of Protecting Yourself Online

Jason Dookeran
5 min readMar 21, 2023
VPNs can be used on any device, even your phone!

According to Norton, a Virtual Private Network (or VPN) is an installation that gives you privacy and protects your online presence by building a private connection out of the public one that your ISP uses. It sounds complicated, but it’s really not. Simply put, a VPN is merely a tunnel between you and whatever site you visit. All data passes through that tunnel, and no one (not even your internet service provider) can see what’s happening there. Now, I already hear people saying, “Well, I don’t have anything to hide, so I don’t need this,” but there are many reasons you might need a VPN. Before we get into those, though, I’d like to touch on some of the best options for VPNs I’ve used over the years.

Options for VPNs

You could choose the path less traveled…

As a tech writer and a traveler, I’ve had to use VPNs a lot to access region-locked information. It’s also helpful when I want to use Netflix from my home country when I’m not there. The three top spots for VPNs that I’ve used in the past are:

NordVPN

If you’ve watched videos on YouTube over the last few years, you must have heard of NordVPN. They’re among the best in the business, and I don’t just stick them at the top because of their widespread recognition. They really know what they’re doing. However, they can be costly, so look at their plans and choose one carefully. Reliability-wise, I couldn’t be happier with their service when I used it.

AtlasVPN

Atlas is a service that really appeals to me because of how fantastic their signup bonuses are. The link I provided gives a discount for a 2-year subscription with two months of free service. They have deals like this running throughout the year, making it easy to sign up with them. My only complaint about AtlasVPN is that sometimes it can be finicky to work with some of my applications.

Surfshark

If you’re one of those people that don’t want to bother with setting up a new piece of software and want it to work, Surfshark’s for you. Of all the VPNs I’ve used, they are the most user-friendly and offer the best cost-over-time value. If you’re new to VPNs, SurfShark is your best bet.

So why would you even need a VPN anyway? Surely you’re not being tracked all the time, right? Well, it turns out you are.

Reasons You Should Get a VPN

Don’t let this guy steal your password

VPNs are valuable tools; I advise everyone to get one because it keeps your computer and data safe. The main reasons you should invest in a VPN are:

Enhanced Security: One of the main benefits of using a VPN is its enhanced security. When you use a VPN, your internet traffic is encrypted, which makes it much more difficult for anyone to intercept or eavesdrop on your online activity. Imagine sending your credit card information, and someone posing as a server in the middle skims it as it passes through. VPNs prevent that.

Privacy: A VPN also provides privacy by masking your IP address and location. This means that websites and online services can’t track your online activity and collect data about you without your knowledge or consent. As an additional bonus, not even your ISP can track what you’re doing. This helps to ensure that your information isn’t collected and sold to third parties.

Reduced Risk of Hacking: Let’s be honest; we all use public access Wi-Fi. I know I depend on it when traveling if I don’t want to shell out for a local phone sim. When you use a public Wi-Fi network, such as in a coffee shop or airport, you risk being hacked. A VPN can reduce this risk by encrypting your internet traffic, making it much more difficult for hackers to steal your personal information.

Cost Savings: Some VPN services can help you save money by allowing you to purchase goods or services at lower prices than what you would pay in your region. This is because some websites and online services may offer different prices based on your location. Location-based sales are standard in stores like Steam and the Epic Game Store.

What Do I Use?

Choosing the right tunnel is important

If you’ve gotten to this point and want to find out which VPN I use right now, I’d tell you Surfshark simply because it’s affordable and easy to set up. It also lets me connect through my phone and other devices. They even have a handy mobile app that helps me secure my connection on the go. While the three I mentioned are among the best I’ve used, they are by no means the only VPNs available out there. And while I’d like it if you signed up with one of those, you should still check other options to see if you find one that suits you.

Hi, I’m Jason, and I’m a tech writer that dabbles in a lot of different things. I write about tabletop gaming, personal finance, and travel, in addition to covering things in tech like AI, Machine Learning, and Artificial Intelligence. I recently covered what you should avoid if you’re planning to use ChatGPT to make money, and you can check that article out here. If you’re interested in tech, travel, tabletop gaming, or any of these, feel free to subscribe to my Medium list. You’ll get updates as soon as I publish something new. I hope to see you on that mailing list!

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Jason Dookeran

Freelance author, ghostwriter, and crypto/blockchain enthusiast. I write about personal finance, emerging technology and freelancing