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  • Status: Exposed

How does a VPN protect my connection?

VPNs play a vital role in helping you maintain your privacy and security on the internet. Understanding how they work is important when you want to know how and why they should be part of your privacy portfolio.

Plaintext By Default

There was a simple solution to bad actors in the early days of the internet: Just kick them off the network. Or ring them up and report their behaviour to their system administrator. And that worked fine when you could print out the entire internet on a single sheet of paper.

It took decades for standard internet encryption like SSL and TLS to develop and become widespread. Despite having these, lots of internet traffic is still sent without any encryption at all. And most protocols that do use it also have a mode that disables it.

Sending and receiving unencrypted data will always be a privacy and security risk. But a VPN ensures that bad actors on your network (and your ISP) can’t freely view your internet traffic. It does this by encrypting everything on the wire between you and the VPN server.

Metadata Is Still Data

Even if you do only use encrypted protocols like HTTPS and TLS, you can still leak data about your connections. For example, DNS lookups are how your devices translate internet names (like example.com) into internet addresses. That process still primarily happens over plaintext, and isn’t given as much thought as connection security because it’s data about your connection.

ISPs and the networks you use can also see which servers your device is sending traffic to, how much is being sent, how long connections last, and a host of other flow information about your internet communications. Indeed, some governments require that ISPs retain this information.

At first glance that may seem reasonable (e.g. “They can’t see my actual data, it’s fine”). However, hackers and privacy experts have shown that analysing metadata can reveal a shocking amount of information about the original communications.

You can choose who gets to see your metadata by using a VPN. It combines all your communications into a single data stream from you to the VPN server. Because of this, the local network can’t extract anywhere near as much useful flow information from your connection, helping protect your privacy and security.

How a VPN Works

When you start your VPN app, your device establishes a secure and encrypted connection to the VPN server. Your internet traffic is sent to this server, who sends it out to the rest of the internet.

Graph showing your device connected to the VPN server through an encrypted link.

This protects against the privacy and security issues mentioned above. It also makes sure sites don’t see your internet address – only the VPN server’s.

In addition, WeVPN also offers additional protection features including:


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Daniel O.

Along with being head of QA for a large VPN company, Daniel has written sites worth of training materials and has worked in many roles across the IT space (particularly development, testing, and security). Daniel loves communication, writing documentation, and copy-editing.