6: Use VPN online to obfuscate your device IP Address

Updated: May 30

In combination with other steps we have discussed, use VPN online to enhance Internet privacy


What is VPN?

You may be familiar with using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) if your employer provides it so you can login to your company’s network and servers from a remote location, such as your home. The VPN software gives you the same access to company servers as if you were within the company’s private network.


Similarly, VPN software for consumers or professionals at home or small office creates the illusion that you are communicating with the Internet from the VPN provider’s servers. You can install VPN software on your computer or mobile device. Once you install and enable it, it automatically provides access to the VPN provider's servers, creating the illusion for your Internet access that the VPN provider’s IP Address (the unique address of a computer or device) is your location. The VPN provider’s servers can be located around the globe, so the web site you access perceives that you are in that server’s location, and not your real location. In other words, the web site you visit sees the IP Address of the VPN provider, not your device's real IP Address.


This is key, as your real IP Address can be used for tracking your activities, even while you are not logged into a site; it can also reveal your geographic location and can attempt to restrict your access.


VPN Benefits


A VPN (Virtual Private Network), then, provides several benefits for greater privacy:

  1. it hides your real IP address by routing all transmissions from your device to the VPN provider’s server to make it look like the data came from them;

  2. it masks your geographical location and thus enables you to see and buy things that otherwise may have geographical restrictions;

  3. it encrypts data you enter into web sites (for example, when filling out online forms) en route to their destination, making use of mobile phones for Internet or public WiFi much more secure.

VPN Product Reviews


I easily found over 20 commercial VPN tools. Some web sites that review VPN offerings are as follows:

Some of these product reviews caution against some “free VPNs” that log, collect, and resell data themselves, so read the reviews and choose a well-regarded brand name. I chose Norton VPN, because it got good, though not necessarily the highest, reviews, and for its brand reputation in security, but most importantly because it is from a known, accountable, publicly-traded company. It is included with a broader bundle of Norton 360 security features. Some others that show well on review sites are NordVPN, CyberGhost VPN, and Express VPN. If you choose a free VPN, check out carefully what data they collect. No matter which one you select, make sure they don’t log your web activity.


Links to some of the leading VPN providers’ sites follow alphabetically. We do not endorse any particular VPN solution, but rather refer you to the reviews at the sites whose links are above. (Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.):


Take-away

As a complementary step to enhance privacy, use VPN online on your computer(s) and mobile device(s). It will encrypt the data that is transmitted to/from your device, and will hide your real IP address.

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