Security, in any capacity, has never been something to take lightly. Although more recently, the topic of smartphone security has come up again, and again, and again. Which does mean that security is now a buzzword. Albeit, a buzzword of very big importance. If you are new to VPNs, then what they do is fairly simply to explain – they protect your network, be it a home network, a smartphone network, or otherwise. VPNs are are designed to stop anyone from snooping on your web activity. Like security, 'privacy' has unfortunately become another buzzword in the mobile industry, with just as many reports coming through on privacy being compromised, breached, and hacked. Which does mean that security and privacy are not mutually-exclusive terms and most of the time, one solution will look to provide you with a way to protect both.
To break down the explanation a little further, VPNs technically work as a middleman. So instead of connecting from A to B, a VPN sits in between those two, acting as a gateway for you, while also acting as a closed gate for others. So essentially, you connect to the VPN server and the VPN then connects to your destination for you, carrying you with that connection. The difference being that it is the VPN that's connecting to the destination and not you directly. By acting as this middleman and allowing its servers to make the connection on your behalf, it is able to stop the destination site (B) from knowing that it is you who is connecting. First off, protecting your privacy, while secondly, ensuring your connection is safe. After all, it is not you connecting to the site. At least not directly.
Which in itself has many benefits. While the obvious one is that all your web browsing and surfing at home is protected, the less obvious benefit is when you are away from home and technically, most vulnerable. As VPNs are a service you sign up to, you are able to take it with you as they are more often than not, cross-platform solutions. For instance, there are many options which are also VPNs for Android and these will keep your device protected whenever it is connected. Most importantly, when you are connecting to public Wi-Fi spots. Once again, you will not be connecting to those spots directly and instead the VPN will be connecting on your behalf, with you just connecting to the VPN's server.
Of course, this does inevitable mean that you do need to ensure that you are making use of a reputable and reliable VPN in the first place. As this is the hub connection that you are making, it is even more important that the VPN is one you can trust. The market is typically strewn with both paid and free VPNs and so there are plenty of options to choose from. Arguable, paying for a service is usually considered the better option and one which is likely to offer a more security-focused solution. Although, any good VPN, free or otherwise, is likely to be better than not using one at all.