Discussions around virtual private network (VPN) have been on the rise since the announcement of Twitter suspension by the Federal Government of Nigeria. Since the ban, some Twitter users have considered the use of VPN as a way to bypass the suspension and still access Twitter. This has made VPN a thing of interest at the moment for Nigerians. In this article, we describe what VPN is and what it entails.
What is VPN
A virtual private network (VPN) is a network that gives you online privacy and anonymity by creating a private network from a public internet connection. VPNs mask your internet protocol (IP) address so your online actions are virtually untraceable.
VPN services establish secure and encrypted connections to provide greater privacy than even a secured Wi-Fi hotspot.
Importance of VPN
Without a VPN, your internet service provider can know your entire browsing history but with a VPN, your search history is hidden because your web activity will be associated with the VPN server’s IP address, not yours.
Because VPN service providers have servers all over the world, your search activity could appear to originate at any one of them. Although these search engines track your search history, your information will be associated with an IP address that’s not yours.
So VPN is important if you are concerned about privacy and security; it secures your private information and browsing habits. The encryption and anonymity that a VPN provides helps protect your online activities be it emails, shopping online, or paying bills etc.
How Does It Work?
VPN protects your IP address and Privacy. They create a data tunnel between your local network and an exit node in another location, which could be thousands of miles away. This is to make it look like you’re in another place while allowing online freedom or the ability to access your favorite apps and websites while on the go.
VPNs use encryption to scramble data when it’s sent over a Wi-Fi network while making it unreadable. Data security is important when using a public Wi-Fi network, because it prevents anyone else on the network from eavesdropping on your internet activity.
In addition, a VPN hides a lot of information that can put your privacy at risk.
- A VPN hides your browsing history
It is now a known fact that your internet service provider and your web browser can track all you do on the internet and a lot of the websites you visit can also keep a history that can be tied to your IP address.
This is why after searching for something or a subject, you automatically start receiving targeted adverts.
This shows even the so-called private browsers may not be so private after all.
- A VPN hides your IP address and location
Your IP address can be used to access what you’ve been searching on the internet and where you were located when you searched. It leads back to your device.
However, since a VPN uses an IP address that’s not your own, it allows you to maintain your online privacy and search the web anonymously. This means your search history cannot be gathered, viewed, or sold.
- VPN hides your location for streaming
Streaming services that enable you to watch things like professional sports etc may not be available when you travel outside the country due to some reasons. One of these reasons is contractual terms and regulations in other countries.
So a VPN would allow you to select an IP address in your home country that would likely give you access to any event shown on your streaming service.
Also, you may be able to avoid data or speed throttling.
- VPN hides your devices
A VPN protects your devices; desktop computer, laptop, tablet, and smartphone, from prying eyes.
This is necessary because your devices can be prime targets for cybercriminals when you access the internet, especially if you’re on a public Wi-Fi network.
A VPN helps protect the data you send and receive on your devices so hackers won’t be able to watch your every move.
- VPN hides your web activity
If you’re a candidate for government surveillance, a VPN protects against your internet service provider seeing your browsing history so you’re protected if a government agency asks your internet service provider to supply records of your internet activity.
If your VPN provider doesn’t log your browsing history (some VPN providers do), your VPN can help protect your internet freedom.
How to get a VPN?
There are free and paid VPN services, but if you want the best service possible, it’s best to sign up to a paid provider.
While VPN is a quick solution to a government-controlled internet, to what extent will it grant Nigerians access to Twitter?
It is noteworthy that there can be no interaction with a VPN server without the service of an Internet Service Provider (ISP) and that the government with the help of ISPs can block data traffic between the country-wide IP address and the platform, to prevent exchange of data. An Internet Service Provider (ISP) is the term for the company that provides access to the Internet. In simple terms, the ISP makes the Internet a possibility.