What is VPN and how can it protect your system? A Message from David H. Coull, Senior Systems Administrator

You may have seen, read, or heard about VPN Services and how it can protect your system when not on your home Wi-Fi.  First, we need to understand VPN.

VPN is an acronym for Virtual Private Network which encrypts your internet traffic.  Businesses have been using this technology for years between sites and for off-site employees to protect their data.   In simple terms when you use VPN, you have a secure encrypted tunnel to the internet.

Certain browsers and websites will request information from your system.  Some of the requests may be what type of system are you using, which browser are you using, email address, your IP address, location, who is your internet service provider, what are you shopping for, etc.

Here is an example of two search engines that gather information from your system with no VPN services.  The images come from Apple App Store March 2021 that was posted on DuckDuckGo Twitter page.

For comparison, this is what DuckDuckGo search engine gathers with Brave web browser:

From the examples above, you can see all the data that may be collected from your system with no VPN service running. What do you think a hacker would do if they could gather that information? 

When VPN is on, all traffic is encrypted and unreadable.

*Image below shows unencrypted data in Red vs. encrypted data using VPN in Green.

When a VPN service is used it masks your actual location, plus encrypts all information. 

This type of encryption can protect you while on a public Wi-Fi location like Starbucks, airports, hotels, from hackers retrieving your information.  Public Wi-Fi is open to everyone that connects to it.  A hacker connects to a public Wi-Fi and uses their tools to start gathering information from other systems on the public Wi-Fi just like the images above show what Google can gather with their products.

Here is a basic image on when VPN is active.

Now that we have the basics on VPN.  What are the services available for personal use?   Here are 5 well known services for VPN, not listed in any order.



  • Supports multiple platforms (Mac, iOS, Android, Windows, etc.)
  • Web browser extension for secure web browsing
  • https://www.expressvpn.com/


  • Supports multiple platforms (Mac, iOS, Android, Windows, etc.)
  • Web browser extension for secure web browsing
  • Features – https://surfshark.com/features

Private Internet Access


David H. Coull
Senior Systems Administrator