What is a VPN and do you need one?
A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a service or program that does a few different things to make your Internet usage more secure. We could go into a long winded 20 page article on how exactly a VPN works, but we are not network engineers. Nor do we think that our user would be interested in all of the nuts and bolts. So we will keep it as short as possible.
When you’re on your computer at home and click on a website link, your internet connects to that website’s server. That server can see your IP address (Think of an IP Address as your computers home address.) When a server sees your IP address it keeps a record of it. Pretty much each and every website that you visit keeps track of each and every connection/IP address that connects to it. This process happens billions of times a minute all across the world.
There are two negative things about how this works. The first is that your IP address/computer’s home address are out there and can be viewed by a wide range of people. These people include Hackers, Government employees (NSA, FBI, CIA), and most people with a modest knowledge of computer networks.
Basically, whatever you view or websites that you visit can be tracked. This means that while you may feel secure surfing the web in your office or bedroom, basically everything that you do on your computer can be tracked and monitored. Privacy is nonexistent on the Internet. You can use Incognito Mode or Safe Browsing all that you want, but that only prevents things from being added to your browser history on your local device.
The second problem with this is hackers. Hackers used to be more of a mischievous group. Hacking into things to see if they could, or for bragging rights. But today hacking is big business. It’s estimated that over 15 million people in the United States have their identities stolen each year. That is roughly 7% of the population. These staggering numbers grow each year and are poised to get even worse.
While there are many various ways that hackers get credit card numbers and bank account information, one of the main ways that this happens is when people make online purchases. Most of the larger online retailers such as Amazon use HTTPS & SSL Certificates to encrypt customers sensitive data (SkyStream does both as well). Not all retailers take these security measures.
If the online merchant and you are not using an encryption system or connection, the data is vulnerable to be intercepted by hackers. They basically hack into the connection between you and the merchant and intercept the data. You will never notice, the transaction will be completed just like any other. But now someone in some part of the world has your name, address, email address, and credit card information. They have everything they need to begin making purchases on your behalf without you knowing it. Sometimes banks will notice this activity and notify you. But most of the time you will only notice once you get your credit card statement and notice some crazy charges.
How a VPN (Virtual Private Network) Works
Instead of directly connecting to a website, A VPN service first directs your IP Address to a server of theirs. From there it encrypts the connection and then connects to the website you are connecting to. By doing this it keeps your IP address from being displayed all over the Internet. By encrypting the data it helps prevent hackers or anyone else from seeing what you are doing or getting your personal information.
More and more people are starting to use VPN services for a variety of reasons. Some people just don’t like the idea that their privacy online is nonexistent and want something that helps keep their privacy more secure. Some people like to download copy written content and do not want their internet service provider or government agencies to be able to see that and send them letters. Some people have used a VPN service to help protect their credit card information when making online purchases. Some people just use a VPN for a better sense of security and privacy while using the Internet on their mobile devices.
Another nice feature of most VPN services is that you can use them on a variety of devices all while only having one account. IPVanish and Express VPN both have programs/apps for Android, IOS, Windows, Mac, Linux, and for your router.
This means that with one account you can ensure the utmost of privacy and security on all of the devices that you use to surf the web and make online transactions.
Do you need a VPN Service?
We cannot answer that question for you. Each person uses the Internet differently and has different level of privacy and security needs. But in this day and age of professional hackers and big brother keeping an eye on everyone, we feel that any level of extra security and privacy is worth its weight in gold. For a small monthly or annual fee we feel it’s a great addition to your Internet usage. And the fact that you can help secure every device in your house and that you use on a daily basis with one account is a great value.
There are so many VPN services. Which one do I choose?
Over the past few months we have tested about 15 different VPN services. We tested all of them on our Android TV Boxes, Android Phones, Android Tablets, IOS Phones and Windows Computers. Out of the 15 VPN services that we tested, two of them stood out as the best overall. IPVanish and Express VPN beat all of the other VPN’s in speeds, ease of use, and overall performance.
If you would like to check out either of these highly recommended VPN services just click on the links below to learn more.
Please note that Skystream does not provide support for any VPN service. If you need technical or customer service for a VPN service you will need to contact the VPN service directly.
Stay Safe, Secure, and Stream On!!!