A VPN, or virtual private network, is often touted as the ultimate in web security, which makes it sound more complicated than it really is. In truth, VPNs are simple software that anyone can use.
This article is a brief introduction to what VPNs actually are and what they can do for you on a Mac.
What is a VPN?
Put simply, a VPN is software that works to increase your level of anonymity on the web.
When you do a search, visit a website, or watch a movie on Netflix, the data you send and receive is stamped with the public IP address of your network. Marking your requests allows your internet service provider (ISP) to send data to the right places, but it also enables them to see what you’re up to on the web.
VPNs encrypt your data and route it to their own servers so that all your ISP sees is that you’re using a VPN.
What do VPNs do on Mac?
Apple computers are known for their tight security, so why would you want to use a VPN on a Mac?
Most trustworthy modern websites are equipped with HTTPS, which basically ensures a higher level of data security while you browse the web. For those that aren’t, a VPN can ensure that your data is encrypted as it travels, no matter what.
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Beyond that, some people just don’t like the idea that ISPs can snoop on their internet activity.
All that said, a lot of people who use VPNs don’t know or care about security vulnerabilities or ISP throttling. The reason is that premium VPN providers have servers all over the world, allowing you to hide your IP address behind one in another country or region.
In this way you’re not just obscuring your location, but also “spoofing” a different location, which can allow you access to websites and apps that restrict content based on a user’s region.