It creates an encrypted connection (often referred to as a tunnel) between your computer and your company’s VPN server, and then passes all network activity through the protected tunnel. This way, even if you are using the airport’s Wi-Fi network, none of the other people on that network can see what’s happening inside that tunnel.
If you’ve ever had to use special software to log in to your work network when working remotely, you are already familiar with VPN technology.
The VPN services I go to a server operated by the same way, but instead of yours. This not only means that your data is safe from prying eyes on the network you are connected to, but that advertisers and online snoops will not be able to see your actual IP address or glean your current location. Instead, they’ll see the IP address and location information for the VPN server.
Think of it this way: If you drive out of your garage, someone can follow your car and track where you went, how long you were there, and when you returned home. We call that stalking. Using a VPN service is like driving into a closed parking garage, switching to a different car, and then driving out. Anyone following your original car now has no idea where you went. A VPN service keeps the stalkers at bay.
Of course, no technology is foolproof. Once your traffic exits the VPN server, it can be monitored and perhaps intercepted. It’s also possible to use complicated timing algorithms to predict when and where you leave the encrypted tunnel. There are other services, such as Tor, that can provide greater levels of anonymity. And if you’re exchanging sensitive information, consider using encryption software to secure it, first or using an encrypted messaging service such as Signal for iPhone and Android.
There’s plenty of VPN to protect neutrality. The idea is that if you tunnel through your ISP, it will not be able to throttle your connection. That makes sense on paper, but it actually works out that way depends on what the ISPs decide to do. They could simply throttle all VPN traffic, for example. To me, the issue of net neutrality is a matter that should be decided upon by ad hoc.