Login to your account

Username *
Password *
Remember Me

Create an account

Fields marked with an asterisk (*) are required.
Name *
Username *
Password *
Verify password *
Email *
Verify email *
Captcha *
Reload Captcha

What is a VPN & why is it needed?

Written by  May 19, 2020

As so many people around the globe are stuck at home in an effort to reduce the number of people catching coronavirus, there's a much greater demand for the services of a VPN.

Since VPNs remain a mystery to most people, our straightforward guide will explain exactly what you need to know: what is a VPN, why you would use one and how to get one.

What is VPN?

It stands for Virtual Private Network. A VPN provides an encrypted connection between whatever device you are using - a phone, laptop, PC or tablet and the internet.

You might think your connection is already secure, but that's only true when you visit certain websites, such as your bank.

VPN gives you privacy

Without a VPN, your internet service provider (ISP) can see exactly which websites you're visiting. They can't see the content you're viewing, but for many people, this is already a breach of privacy.

With a VPN, the connection from your device to one of the VPN provider's servers on the internet is encrypted. And this means no-one - not even your ISP - can spy on you and seeing what you're up to.


NordVPN - Fast, Secure and Unlimited VPN app for Android. Stay secure and private online
amazon uk

Does a VPN make you anonymous?

Many VPN services also talk about how they make you anonymous online. That's true so long as you don't log into a website where your account contains personal details because, quite obviously, signing in with your username and password tells the website exactly who you are.

Anonymity is really about stopping your ISP and other third parties - such as governments - from identifying and tracking you.

Is it legal to watch Netflix with a VPN?

The other reason to use a VPN is so that you can watch video that's not available in your country or region.

The way this works is that the VPN provider offers servers in lots of different countries. When you use the VPN app, you choose which server to connect to. And when connected, any websites you visit think you are located where the server is.

What is a VPN?

You can pick a US server and Netflix (or any other website or service) will think you are in the US and allow you to use the service as anyone else in the country. And this means you can watch content that is usually only available to US residents.

The same is true of other services, including YouTube and Amazon Prime Video.

You may simply want to watch content that you are ordinarily entitled to watch. For example, BBC iPlayer is only available to view if you are located in the UK, but you may be abroad on holiday or on a business trip.

A VPN lets you get around these geographical restrictions.

Also see: Are free VPNs safe to use?

Getting to the question of legality, people often confuse a company's terms and conditions with what is lawful. Breaking the terms and conditions is not the same as breaking the law. For example, the Ts & Cs may say that you are not allowed to use a VPN to access the service in order to watch content that isn't available to you otherwise.

But doing so does not break the law in most countries and therefore is not illegal. Immoral, maybe, but not illegal. At worst, your account could terminated, but we're not aware of Netflix or any other service doing this.

Instead, they actively crack down on VPN services and block access. This is why it's a good idea to pick a VPN service with a) 24/7 customer support and b) multiple servers in each country so there are options if some of their servers lose access to streaming services.

Bitcoin Exchange CEX.IO

How much does a VPN cost?

Typically, subscribing to a VPN will cost you less than the price of a pint of beer per month.

We've tested dozens of VPN services and our top picks are NordVPN and ExpressVPN.

How safe is incognito mode?

If you're worried about privacy, you might be tempted to use your web browser's private or Incognito Mode. But even if you do, your internet service provider (ISP) will still know - and record - all the websites you visit.

Those sites may not show up in your browsing history, but they are still tied to your IP address, which is unique to the device you’re using (such as your phone or laptop) and can therefore be traced back to you.

What is a VPN?

Your ISP could therefore be ordered by the government to hand over those records if it is compelled to do so.

If you don’t like the sound of that, you should use a VPN whenever you use the internet.

In the US, this has become even more of a reason to use a VPN, after the Senate voted to remove broadband privacy rules that prevented ISPs from selling or sharing web browsing data without permission.

Yes, you read that correctly: US ISPs can sell your web browsing data to advertisers without asking you first.


ExpressVPN - 1 Trusted VPN - Secure Private Fast
amazon uk

What other uses are there for a VPN?

Even if you’re not too concerned about this, you should use a VPN whenever you connect to public Wi-Fi. That's because unlike home Wi-Fi, most public networks aren't password protected. This is very bad for security because it means the connection between your device and the hotspot is not encrypted so pretty much anyone with basic software can intercept any data sent across that connection.

However, if you connect to a VPN server on that device, the VPN connection is encrypted so your data is safe from snoopers.

Using a public Wi-Fi network for shopping or anything else which requires your financial details without protecting yourself with a VPN is almost like leaving your door unlocked at home - you’re making it easy for a thief to steal from you.

Another use for a VPN is to bypass ISP restrictions such as throttling when downloading files using peer-to-peer (P2P). By using a VPN, your ISP can’t tell what you’re doing and the throttling won’t kick in.

Finally, you can decrease your ping time in some online games by using a VPN to connect to a server in the country in which the game is based.

Peter Flynn

Creator and director of IT Security Centre UK.

I have worked in the IT industry for many years and developed my IT security skills in particular. As this area has always been of interest to me and is more important now than ever.

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter all the required information, indicated by an asterisk (*). HTML code is not allowed.


Popular Cyber News

Mar 05, 2020 Cyber Security

Tesco and Boots Loyalty Card Schemes Affected by Security Issues

UK retailers Tesco and Boots are dealing with the after affects of cyber security issues that may have affected thousand...

Jun 12, 2020 Cyber Security

NHS email service fooled users in phishing attack

NHS Digital is contacting users of its NHSmail email system after a small number of mailboxes were compromised in a gene...

May 07, 2020 Cyber Security

Three quarters of UK homeworkers haven't received cybersecurity training

As Covid-19-related cybersecurity threats continue to multiply, three in four of home workers are yet to receive any cyb...

May 25, 2020 Cyber Security

Beware of security threats before deploying remote working

Remote working is receiving a great deal of attention recently for obvious reasons. The world has changed and remote wor...

Mar 27, 2020 Cyber Security

Hospitals worldwide offered free security software

As cyberattacks against hospitals surge during the coronavirus crisis, technology companies are stepping up to alleviate...

Jun 09, 2020 Cyber Threats

Common types of cyber-attacks and how to avoid them

With cyber-attacks on the rise, businesses are constantly worried about losing vital data and the threat is very real. ...

Mar 23, 2020 Cyber Security

Thousands of Netflix and Other Streamers Accounts are Being Stolen

With a massive surge in home use of video and music streaming services such as Amazon Prime Video, Apple Music, Netflix ...

May 18, 2020 Cyber Security

UK power grid operator Elexon hit by cyberattack

The UK’s power grid middleman Elexon has announced it has fallen victim to a cyberattack, which did not compromise pow...

May 05, 2020 Cyber Security

The importance of cybersecurity for UK businesses

Technology is constantly changing and at a pace which is hard to keep up with, but 'safety first' always applies. ...

May 27, 2020 Cyber Security

UK scared cybercriminals will use NHSX Covid-19 Tracing App to launch attacks

Nearly half (48%) of the UK public surveyed about the NHSX COVID-19 tracing app do not trust the UK government to keep t...

Apr 16, 2020 Cyber Security

Cybersecurity lessons to be learnt from the Pandemic

It may not be obvious, but the spread of information on computer networks is like disease processes. ...

Jun 08, 2020 Cyber Security

Ransomware attack compensation: What the UK public think

UK consumers believes businesses should stand their ground having suffered a ransomware attack and refuse to negotiate w...

Mar 20, 2020 Cyber Threats

UK Fintech Company Finastra Targeted by Hackers

UK-based financial technology company Finastra is investigating a cybersecurity incident that may involve a piece of ran...

Jun 06, 2020 Cyber Security

Phishing attacks on companies using PBX systems increases dramatically

While video conferencing solutions have become the prime targets for hackers recently following the shift to remote work...

Jun 12, 2020 Cyber Security

Cybersecurity in the shortsighted gig economy

The ‘gig’ economy encompasses the increasing economic trend for professionals to take on a series of temporary work ...

Apr 13, 2020 Cyber Security

Under half of UK businesses provide cybersecurity training: Kapersky

If businesses want to seriously wan to reduce he risk of data breaches and remains secure, they must commit to employee ...

Symantec Home 120x60