Reference Corner: What’s a VPN and Why Do I Care?

By FPL_John

I was recently asked this question by a library guest who was going overseas. A friend told her that she had to get one and she’d never heard of it.

The short answer is that a VPN helps make your internet browsing more secure by using encryption to keep hackers from seeing the data you are sending back and forth to websites. This can be especially helpful if you are using a public WiFi connection.

So, security is one reason to care. A second reason is that if you are traveling, a VPN can allow you to access U.S. websites that you normally couldn’t. For example, if you want to stream your music off Pandora, and you are in Italy, that usually won’t work. But if you are using a VPN, it will. That’s because a VPN disguises where your computer is located and can tell a U.S. website that you are in the U.S. even if you aren’t.

Companies have used VPNs for a long time to secure their internet traffic. In recent years, home users have also started to realize how helpful they can be.

If you’d like to learn more, take a look at this article in Forbes Magazine:

What is a VPN and How Does it Work?, opens a new window

Happy traveling!