One of the two main uses of a VPN service is to provide ANONYMITY. The other is the provision of PRIVACY, which will be discussed in a separate post.
What do we mean by anonymity? Well, basically, to protect your virtual ID, i.e. your IP (Internet Protocol Address).
Everything is identifiable on the Internet through unique IP addresses. A VPN service hides your IP using one or more IPs belonging to the VPN service provider. Let's see it in a graphical way:
As we can see, with normal access to the Internet, most Web sites to which we connect receive a "signed" connection with your personal IP. This would mean in the real world that you would sign up at the entrance of any building you visit, show your ID, date and signature and off you go into the building! Maybe this is not something you want to do permanently, and everywhere!
In contrast, accessing the Internet through a VPN service such as TUVPN.COM, your identity, that is your IP, is hidden by the IP of the VPN server you have connected through (in the graphical example, Zurich the example of the real world, it's like someone signing for you at the door of the building and you get to enter the building.
The innocent question that many people ask is:
If I have nothing to hide why do I want to be anonymous on the Internet?.
The answer is that one does not need to be a criminal (as many people would want us to believe), for wanting to preserve his or her anonymity on the Internet. Some reasons:
- Anonymous blogging – understanding that your points of view can compromise you for work, religious, or cultural reasons.
- Anonymous Instant messaging – for the same reasons.
- Facilitate freedom of speech.
- Avoid the risk that web pages we visit collect and trade our profiles and online behaviours.
- Avoid the risk that web pages we visit gather private information during our connection ( your geographical location, operating system, type of browser, ISP, browser history…).
- Anonymous email.
- Geographical restrictions while travelling (content blocked by IP).
Once introduced to the concept of ANONYMITY and how it can be achieved through a VPN service, the more advanced reader will ask themselves the following question:
What is the difference between a VPN and a web proxy service / anonymous proxy?
Basically, and usually, a proxy ONLY anonymizes HTTP traffic (ie navigation). On the other hand a VPN service anonymizes ALL OUR Internet traffic, be it browsing, instant messaging, P2P, emails, IP voice mail etc. That is, a VPN service offers COMPLETE ANONYMITY without having to worry about the kind of traffic we generate on the Internet.
Finally, for expert readers (if any have had the patience to get here!), can ask another question:
Why not use TOR for anonymity and privacy online, which is also free?
This is a very good question to answer thoroughly in our next post on PRIVACY. Do not miss it!