How Does a VPN Work With Wi-Fi?

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Updated August 29, 2022

Chances are you’ve heard of a VPN before, and you might even use one for your job. However, many don’t understand just how important this service is in protecting your sensitive data from those who seek to do harm. And because of their effectiveness, many use the best VPNs for day-to-day affairs. So, if you want to learn more, let’s discuss how does a VPN work with Wi-Fi.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • VPN providers enhance privacy protection by encrypting user data before its sent into cyberspace.
  • VPNs hide all data from hackers, government monitors, and predatory internet service providers–from browser history to geo-location to IP addresses.
  • A secure connection to a VPN provider is especially vital when operating on a public Wi-Fi network.

Before we jump in, though, it’s worth noting that many types of VPNs are available for specific devices. For example, Apple users may want to check out the best VPNs for iPads or even how to get a VPN on an iPhone.

Insider Tip

Never connect to a public network without using a VPN to protect your data.

How Does a VPN Work on Home Wi-Fi?

The acronym VPN stands for “Virtual Private Network.” Not all networks are private, and this is where a good VPN comes in handy. When you establish a wireless internet connection, there is a constant data exchange between your computer, your internet service provider, and the websites you visit. During this exchange, your personal data becomes visible to others, including your IP address, browser history, messages, and location.

The Risks of Unsecured Networks

Leaving your data open during an internet connection, especially on public Wi-Fi networks or unsecured home networks, exposes users to severe risks. Without any security measures in place, hackers can capture your account information, including usernames and passwords. Because your IP address is exposed, they can also gain access to your computer and network, as well as launch a spam or malware attack on your system.

Another common concern with unsecured networks is that third parties can hijack any accounts you’re logged into or redirect you to a fake website, like your bank or other financial websites, to steal account information and other sensitive data that they can use later.

Warning

You must thoroughly vet any VPN service before connecting to it. Some VPN services harvest user data and sell it for profit without being clear that that’s what they are doing; this is especially common with free VPN services.

And it’s not just unsecured networks that are at risk. Even secured networks can be vulnerable, though slightly more challenging to hack. Fortunately, VPN providers add an extra level of security to the data transfer process, making it far more difficult for third parties to steal your information.

How VPN Providers Prevent Attacks

At this point, many wonder what a VPN company does to prevent malicious attacks. Instead of sending out data as is, the VPN takes all outgoing data and passes it through an encryption process before it becomes public. This encrypted data looks like nonsense, rendering it unusable for hackers, governments, and others trying to cash in on your sensitive information.

STAT: Close to 81% of all Americans connect to public Wi-Fi networks routinely. (source)

Luckily, establishing a VPN connection for a computer or mobile device is easy. All you need to do is find a trusted VPN provider, select a plan, and follow their instructions to create a username and password. After that, you’ll be good to go.

Of course, sometimes, a VPN connection can be spotty. You can find our resource explaining why your VPN keeps disconnecting to understand more about this.

How Does the VPN Work With Wi-Fi FAQs

What does server switching mean?

Server switching is a feature with certain VPN providers allowing users to switch connections based on their country. For example, if a person travels from the USA to Japan, they can switch to a server located in the new country, which helps boost security and connection speed.

Do VPNs create a slower internet connection?

Sometimes, VPN software slows down a connection because it adds an entirely new phase to the data transfer process.

Why are VPNs illegal in some countries?

Because a VPN connection prevents government monitors from recording online activity, many countries ban them because they grant users greater internet freedom.
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