The Virtual Private Network (VPN) allows one to create a secure connection to another network over the internet. Hence, you’re sure to access region-restricted websites not to mention protecting your browsing activity from spying eyes on public networks. Initially, VPNs were meant to connect business networks securely over the internet despite the geographical distance. Also, employees would access the business network whether at home or during business trips. Currently, VPNs have grown humongous popularity, but it’s not for the reason they were created. Perhaps you’re wondering, do I need a VPN? Don’t panic, read through to understand what a Virtual Private Network is and how can you benefit from it.
What is a VPN?
In simple terms, a VPN connects your computer, phone, or even tablet to another virtual network on the internet called server. Here, you’re able to browse using the internet connection of the virtual system. When the server is in a different country, you’ll appear to be browsing from that country. A VPN will allow you to access information or websites that you couldn’t usually do. Still wondering in which situations you might need a VPN? You can use it to do the following:
- Protect your browsing activity from unscrupulous and untrustworthy Wi-Fi hotspots
- Bypass websites with geographic restrictions
- Avoid being logged while torrenting
- Get some anonymity online by hiding your exact location
- Stream videos from media like Hulu
While the sole purpose of a VPN was initially business oriented, a vast majority are using it for torrenting and bypassing geographic restrictions to access websites of a different country. For corporations, VPNs facilitate security of sensitive data. Of course, establishing one of these secure connections such as logging into private corporate network remotely is surprisingly simple. First, you’ll need to connect to the public internet through an ISP. Then, initiate a VPN connection using a client software from the VPN server company. You’re good to go! The purpose of a VPN client software on the server is to establish a secure connection and grant internal network.
Security features of VPNs
Should you use a VPN whenever you’re browsing? Well, this depends on the kind of browsing activity you’re undertaking. Some security protocols have been developed to offer varied levels of security and features. Among the standard features in a VPN include:
- IP Security: The IPSec facilitates Security Internet Communications. IPSec operates in two modes; Transport and Tunneling mode. Transport mode encrypts the data packet message while Tunneling mode encrypts the whole data packet. IPSec can be used with other protocols to facilitate a combined level of security.
- Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2tp)/IPSec: The L2TP combines with IPSec protocols to create a highly secure VPN client. The L2TP handles the tunneling while the IPSec protocol handles the encryption. The combination ensures channel security and data integrity to make sure convenient and uncompromised channeling.
- Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TSL): A combination of SSL and TSL brings up the excellent security of online retailers and service providers. Interestingly, the protocol operates using the handshake method. When the SSL session is starting, an SSL handshake is performed to produce cryptographic parameters of the course.
- Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP); PPTP is a ubiquitous VPN protocol. Unlike the L2TP, PPTP does not encrypt. Hence, a secondary protocol such as SRE or TCP is used to handle encryption.
- Secure Shell (SSH): When it comes to SSH, the contract creates both the tunnel and encryption. SSH does not encrypt the data but the channel used.
Should I use a VPN?
As mentioned earlier, a VPN is a way to bolster your security and access resources on a network you’re not physically connected to. What you choose to do with the VPN is a different narrative but the answer to your question “do I need a VPN?” is pretty straightforward – yes, and soon enough it will be as common as having an Antivirus software. Whether you’re a worker in a corporation, a student in an institution, a downloader at a movie shop, globetrotter; to mention a few, you can reap the benefits of using VPNs. Just think about using work data whenever you’re traveling or working on the untrusted network.
Identifying the most suitable VPN is not a very easy undertaking. Look for one that offers a stable balance of features, server location, connectivity protocols, and of course, rates. What’s more, ensure that the VPN is compatible with the websites you’ll be using.