Due to rampant online snooping and frauds, the use of VPN firewalls has increased drastically. Without question, the internet has completely transformed the way people communicate and work. However, as it is a lucrative platform for many, it has also become a target ground for malicious individuals such as fraudsters, spammers, and hackers.
Most internet users overlook the need for online security because they think that no one is interested in their private data. Others think that security is only for big organizations that store sensitive databases in the cloud. The truth is that your private data is at as much risk as that of big online companies. To safeguard your information, there are several tools you can use in your browsers and devices such as antivirus protection and typical firewalls.
However, the protective capacity of these techniques is somewhat limited. For example, they don’t safeguard your data against cloud-based risks. Therefore, if your information is leaked onto the web, nothing will prevent snoopers from getting your information. For this reason, you should subscribe to a VPN with a firewall feature. This is the best way to keep your private information exactly that while you surf the net.
Before we get into the finer details, we should first take a moment to define the basic terms: VPN and firewall. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network and is a piece of software. It creates an encrypted tunnel between your device and the destination of the information that you send on the internet. If a hacker gets their hands on your data, they cannot configure it since it’s encrypted.
A firewall, on the other hand, protects your network from unknown ones. So, a VPN firewall is a combination of the two. It is designed to prevent malicious internet users from intercepting a VPN connection. The firewall may come as software, hardware, or an all-inclusive device. With a firewall on your VPN, only authorized internet traffic can access your network. It is installed at the VPN’s server end – front or back. If installed at the back-end, filters are used to configure it so that only VPN-based packets can pass. When installed at the front-end, the firewall can only allow tunnel data on the web to pass to the VPN server.
How good is VPN for online protection?
VPN is a private network with a safe tunnel through which you can access a remote server. The tunnel ends are encrypted with such protocols as IPSec, L2TP, and PPTP.
Any information flowing from your device through the tunnel to the server stays protected and no one can access your data without authentication. Furthermore, it gives you a virtual IP address from a remote server while your real IP address is disguised. That way, no traces of your online activity is left behind, making you an anonymous internet user.
Is firewall a router?
Yes, it is an advanced router. A router monitors your internet activities and data packets around your home network. Think about it as security personnel – it will scrutinize any information before letting it get access to your network. A typical router stands between your ISP (Internet Service Provider) and dictates what traffic should flow through the ISP and which one remains in your home network. But there are some routers that lack the firewall capability and they can erroneously leak traffic between two networks.
Facts about VPN firewalls you didn’t know
A VPN firewall works in two ways. First, the firewall can be placed between the intranet and the VPN server. Secondly, the VPN can be placed between the intranet and the firewall. Either way, the firewall safeguards the data moving from your device and network against threats. Hackers normally target VPN users but firewall protection thwarts any suspicious attempt on your traffic. When choosing a VPN, always check to see that it has strong protocols, high speed, and unrestricted internet access.
Having said that, a VPN firewall does a better job than a typical router. First, it blocks inbound and outbound traffic that is not authenticated. It also determines what server you can access while monitoring your online activities. If you need a site-to-site VPN connection between offices, a VPN firewall would be a great option. Also, it makes a good choice for blocking particular sites and online categories like social media and live streaming sites. Firewalls have many uses but their main objective is to increase internet security.
Can you identify the type of attack with a firewall in place?
Most attackers use fingerprinting to figure out the best way to exploit someone else’s system. A VPN firewall can prevent this from happening since the attacker will not be able to get any data packet created by the virtual server. Firewalls facilitate robust protocol-oriented logging making it incredibly easy to identify the method used by a hacker. Like a proxy, a firewall gives you a valuable backup for the logs on the servers that are being secured by the VPN.
Are there any drawbacks to using VPN firewalls?
Firewalls are complex systems, especially those from leading providers. In some instances, their configurations require in-depth training and a lot of experience. The time needed to set up a VPN firewall depends on the complexity of the software.
Any misconfiguration can leave your system even more vulnerable than before the firewall was installed. This is why you might want to hire a qualified professional to install your VPN firewall. A home-based router is easy to figure out, but a business-level firewall should be installed by a pro.
Apart from the cost of installation, the other challenge involved when using a firewall is slow internet speed. The low speed occurs because every route in your network is busy and the data packets are being monitored closely.
Like a security check, a VPN firewall examines everything to ensure that you are safe from malicious things. However, you have to sacrifice some speed, though it’s often not so drastic. The problem is more pronounced in the case of poor internet connections from your ISP.
VPN for anonymity
In the last few years, we have seen tremendous changes to the software and hardware used to access the internet. With wireless speed connection, internet connection speed has become faster. As a result of a number of factors, various web users are using different means to access websites. A good number of them are now choosing to use VPNs to access the internet. The reason for this is that VPNs are granting them anonymity on the web and providing them with an extra layer of protection.
Are firewalls compatible with all internet protocols?
For your information to move across a network, it is broken down into parts that are sent separately. This breakdown allows various systems to share a network with every system sending the pieces in turn. The small parts are known as packets. Data transfer across the internet occurs in the form of packets. When installing a firewall on your computer, you will need basic internet configurations. Common IP protocols include TCP, UDP, FTP, AH, ICMP, ESP, and GRE. Apart from data packets, a firewall has to deal with these objects.
Not every firewall can work with your network protocol. For every new application to go through the firewall, a new proxy agent should be implemented. The performance may decrease due to the many requests that are going on. The additional overhead created by a combination of two networks in every conversation, plus the time required to authenticate requests of each application layer, reduces the performance even more. To counteract this issue, choose a reliable server. Nonetheless, a firewall can be a major bottleneck in certain high-bandwidth networks.
Why do VPNs and firewalls make perfect matches?
VPNs and firewalls complement each other well, resulting in a high degree of combined defensive power. A firewall scans the incoming and outgoing traffic to guard against malicious attacks while a VPN creates a safe channel for data exchange. Unlike a firewall, a VPN hides your IP address which is your identity on the web. So, no one can tell which ISP you are using. However, the virtual IP is known by the VPN provider. For this matter, you must only choose a reputable VPN client with high-security standards.
You might be wondering, “Which security measure is better – VPN or firewall?” Like everything else, the decision depends on your needs and how you want to fulfill them. In the worst case scenario, an infected file can pass through your device or a hacker could steal your passwords. Which of the two attacks is more severe? Again, it depends on what is more important to you. Nonetheless, VPNs have an advantage over firewalls when it comes to accessing geo-blocked content. But the best idea is to implement the two.
What do packets look like?
Packets are layered to form the IP protocol stack which can be an application layer, internet layer, transport layer, or network access layer. Packets are created in a way that each protocol’s layer in a certain network is wrapped around them.
At every layer, a packet features two sections i.e. the body and head. The head carries relevant information to a specific layer. The body carries the information for the layer. Every piece of information from the above layer is considered as data, hence no information is lost.
Do VPNs bypass firewalls?
Often, VPNs can easily circumvent any firewall, even those that are imposed by government authorities. Once you connect to the internet through the encrypted tunnel, your traffic becomes indecipherable. But how does a VPN bypass a firewall? It is simple.
Since your IP address is hidden, no one can keep tabs on your online traffic. Since they can’t see what you are doing, you can access just any content. But you must use a highly effective VPN with strong encryption like 256-bit AES encryption to circumvent firewalls.
If you want to be sure that no firewall is standing in your way, choose an OpenVPN-based provider. Other options like PPTP and L2TP can suffice, but their encryptions are so outdated or non-existent. Another protocol that’s similar to OpenVPN is the SSTP but it lacks device flexibility. The benefits of using OpenVPN protocol are crystal clear: It is reliable, safer, and flexible. Even in case of challenges, you have nothing to worry about your private information getting lost. Also, you can depend on it in the long run.
Different types of firewalls
The truth is internet-based risks have been evolving over the years and so are the firewalls. Hence, firewalls come in different forms:
- One is the packet layer that scans online traffic at the transport protocol layer.
- Then there is the circuit level firewall that authenticates packets to ensure that they are data-based or connection packets.
- The application layer ensures that only authorized information during application is connected to the internet.
- The proxy server is the other type of firewall that intercepts all the information entering a network or leaving it.
There is another category of firewalls known as Next-Generation, which serve the same purpose as a typical firewall – protecting you from harmful or unwanted traffic. However, they provide application awareness and full-stack visibility by verifying the contents of every data packet and not just the port or IP.
Basically, all the above types of firewalls protect users against a combination of threats. Their functions range from gateway defense, performing specific security policies, reporting threats, hiding internal network address, and separating activities between the internet and a trusted network.
Julie is a firm believer in equal rights for everyone. She is a traveler and blogger, focusing her efforts on exposing censorship and discrimination around the world. She wants to hold corrupt governments and shady companies accountable by writing investigative articles and helpful guides.