How to Protect Yourself From Hackers!

Bypass Censorship and Assess Social Websites Abroad

Over the past decade, there has been an explosion in the popularity of social media.  A phenomenon that originally captured the attention of college-aged students has spread to include people of all ages around the world.  Social media allows friends and relatives to maintain communication, regardless of their physical distances.  Many people travel the world for business or pleasure.  Social websites allow them to keep in touch.

Some countries, schools and corporate networks block access to social media. A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, lets users bypass these restrictions. With a VPN, world travelers are able to connect to their favorite social websites and maintain important personal relationships.

VPN Connections vs. Non-VPN Connections

When you connect to the Internet without a VPN, your ISP assigns your device an IP address. The websites you visit can see your location based on that IP address. Data sent to and from your device is unencrypted and plainly visible to your ISP, the websites you visit and malicious third parties.

ISPs use this information to preferentially limit bandwidth speed. Websites use this information to build a profile about you. Third parties use this information to steal sensitive personal information like usernames, passwords and credit card numbers.

When you connect to the Internet with a VPN, a secure private tunnel is created. The traffic still flows through your ISP, but it is encrypted and travels through the VPN server before reaching its destination. This prevents you ISP from seeing the content of your traffic or what you do online. It also prevents the websites you visit from seeing where you are located.

Because your ISP and network administrators can’t see what websites you visit with a VPN, they are unable to block social media sites. For example, if an American user tries to access an American social media website from China without a VPN, that site will be blocked by the Chinese government. When that same user accesses the site using a US VPN server, the traffic is encrypted between the user and the VPN server. The Chinese government cannot see what website you are connecting to or what the nature of the connection is. The user is then effectively connecting to the Internet just as if they were located in America.

Similarly, some websites themselves block access to users outside of a given geographical region based on their IP address. In the previous example, say the America website itself blocked access to Chinese users. When the user in China connects to the American website using a US VPN server, he is given an American IP address. Because he appears to be located in America the website does not block access.

 Conclusion

Social websites have become very popular with users around the world.  They allow people to remain in contact despite great geographical distances.  A VPN allows users to access social websites from anywhere in the world, even where access to those sites is restricted.

Jack Hays writes about internet security and freedom.  He recomends that anyone traveling abroad use a VPN.  His articles educated readers about bypassing censorship and geographic restrictions.