Gaining popularity day by day, VPNs have evolved to become an important online privacy tool one should have in today’s digital era. With the global pandemic, businesses all over the world have adopted new ways of carrying out their operations and this is the reason why VPNs have become so important to corporations.
Whatever activity you perform on the web with your original IP address, makes you vulnerable to become a victim of data thefts.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) can act as a shield to protect your identity while also giving you the perks of accessing geo-restricted content on the web with just a tap of a button. Isn’t it just another technological wonder how a VPN changes your IP address to make you look like you’re sitting in a completely different corner of the world?
By doing so, it “masks” your original identity with a bogus one to make sure you are completely anonymous on the internet and far away from the range of hackers and eavesdroppers. If you’re wondering how a VPN does all of this work just in a matter of seconds, then this article is for you.
- When you connect your device to a VPN, it creates a secure tunnel between you and the VPN server, from which you carry out your internet activities with complete anonymity and security.
- Once the connection is established, even your ISP won’t be able to see or track your internet traffic flow.
- A VPN can be beneficial for many operations you perform on a daily basis i.e. visiting a geo-restricted website, streaming geo-based movies and TV shows, or having safe access to public Wi-Fi networks.
What Is A VPN?
When you’re online, your device is continually swapping data with various other sites on the web. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) creates a secure pathway between your device (e.g., a smartphone or a laptop) and the web. Any activity you carry out, the information travels through that secure pathway and reaches a VPN server encrypting your data, and eventually, it reaches the destination with you being totally anonymous on the web.
How Does A VPN Work?
A VPN encrypts all data exchanged between the computer and server to protect your identity and avoid hackers. It establishes a safe tunnel between the client and the VPN source, allowing you to avoid hacking and surveillance by third parties wanting to obtain information from you. All of this is achieved using an encryption algorithm (set of instructions) that routes your internet traffic.
When your traffic is encrypted, your IP address is masked, as if you are sitting in some other location which is basically the location that the VPN server assigns you. With this, you can browse the internet anonymously without having to worry about revealing your genuine identity. Even if someone tries to track you (your ISP for instance), all they’ll achieve is some gibberish that’ll make no sense.
What Are the Types Of VPN?
VPNs have gained popularity throughout time, whether it be for personal use or commercial use. There are two types of VPNs being widely used all over the world.
Remote Access VPN
This is the VPN you’ll use every day to access geo-restricted content or stream shows only available in different regions. With just a few clicks, you can connect to any server in the world remotely.
Although today’s approach of VPNs is all about online security and masking a user’s original IP address to a bogus one, their original intentions were different. Companies utilized VPNs to ensure that their employees could easily access company networks and utilize corporate resources from anywhere in the world.
Personal Remote Access VPN
A VPN service you may use to carry out your personal activities like streaming, playing games, or browsing on the internet.
Business Remote Access VPN
A VPN network may be established for a company or organization to give their remote workers easy access to company resources.
Site-to-Site VPN networks are established by companies or organizations which have multiple offices in different sites of the country or the world. With a VPN, all the sites are connected securely.
Intranet Site-to-Site VPN
When one branch of a company is connected to the other branch of the same company through a secure VPN network, this is known as Intranet Site-to-Site VPN.
Extranet Site-to-Site VPN
When a company connects to another company via a secure site-to-site VPN network, this is called Extranet Site-to-Site VPN.
What Are VPN Protocols?
VPN Protocols are a set of rules or instructions which direct the traffic of the user to the VPN server and then to the destination. Here are the popular and widely used VPN protocols.
Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP)
The Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP), developed by Microsoft in the 1990s, is one of the oldest and commonly used protocols that provides adequate protection. However, it has been cracked over time and isn’t utilized as much now. However, it is coupled with other protocols to provide greater protection.
WireGuard is open-source which itself is a highly secured VPN protocol but it becomes even more powerful when combined with other protocols, just like how NordVPN created NordLynx joining hands with WireGuard.
It is a young VPN protocol but it isn’t too old in the business. It’s simply new to the market. If you want a connection with no restrictions and low latency, WireGuard is the best option.
This protocol is ideal for people who move between WiFi networks and mobile data frequently because it is lightweight, flexible, and easier to maintain as it has only 4000 lines, compared to the other widely used protocol OpenVPN, which has over 72000.
IKEv2/IPsec is a VPN technology that uses 256-bit encryption to build secure VPN tunnels. IKEv2 has no vulnerabilities yet and is one of the most widely used protocols thanks to its use of the Diffie-Hellman key exchange. Forward Secrecy is also supported by it.
L2TP and IPsec are used in combination for stronger encryption than PPTP. When used, L2TP/IPSec provides secure web surfing and messaging privacy over an encrypted connection that a hacker would find virtually impossible to decrypt.
The OpenVPN protocol is one of the most secure on the market, thanks to its 256-bit encryption. It’s also one of the fastest protocols available, despite its top security level and strength. Because of its balance between security and speed, it is offered by almost every VPN provider as it is widely used.
Furthermore, since developers have access to the open-source code of OpenVPN, improvements are done from time to time to make it more secure.
Why You Should Use A VPN
VPNs can protect your online identity from hackers and eavesdroppers but that’s not it. Here are some of the benefits of using a VPN.
VPN Grants You Access to Geo-Blocked Websites and Apps
If you’re going somewhere outside of the country and discover that your favorite region-restricted websites aren’t working, don’t be discouraged.
To view these sites simply connect to a VPN, “spoof” an IP address from another location, and access geo-blocked content while being anonymous on the web.
In simple words, you can access any geo-blocked website or app, even TikTok, if that’s what you’re looking for.
VPN Keeps You Safe on Public Wi-Fi Networks
VPNs are an excellent method to safeguard yourself when surfing on public Wi-Fi of a restaurant or a coffee shop since hackers may use these Wi-Fis to steal your personal information. Using a VPN will also help you keep your privacy when traveling abroad, as cyber thieves may exploit unsecured networks.
VPN Blocks Website Tracking
Ever experienced an event where you search or simply talk about a product on your smartphone and you start getting ads of that product on different platforms? Well, social media platforms like Facebook track your activity and sell that information to advertisers. With a VPN, you can avoid being the target of such ads.
VPN Can Save You Some Money on Products
Websites that store cookies often keep tabs on your online purchasing behavior and then set arbitrary prices for the buyers the next time they visit those purchasing websites. A VPN can mask your online identity and encrypt your internet traffic which makes it unable for websites to track you.
Moreover, prices on purchasing websites vary on the geo-location, the prices can be high or low according to certain regions. With a VPN you can get your products at the cheapest price possible by changing your geo-location on the internet.
VPN Can Change Your Netflix Region
Netflix shows limited movies and TV shows to certain regions as per their licensing agreement with the studios. But with a VPN, you can have access to the geo-restricted shows. All you have to do is change your location and you can watch any show available in that country’s Netflix library.
Not only this but a trusted VPN service can unblock libraries of other streaming platforms like Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, Hulu, or BBC IPlayer.
How You Should Choose A VPN
Choosing a good VPN service will allow you to enjoy multiple benefits apart from its basic operations. Here are the important factors to consider while choosing a VPN service.
A VPN With Latest Protocols
Protocols are a set of rules or instructions which control and move your internet traffic from your device to the VPN server and then to its destination. A trusted VPN should have all the latest protocols available so the users can have maximum guarded security while performing their internet activities.
The latest protocols are Lightway by ExpressVPN, NordLynx by NordVPN, and WireGuard by Surfshark. Other than these state-of-the-art protocols, OpenVPN currently is the widely used protocol that offers a 256-bit encryption method which can be a nightmare for anyone trying to crack it. All the three providers mentioned above offer this VPN protocol.
A VPN With Maximum Number of Servers
Always go for a VPN that offers a high range of operational servers in multiple locations. A high count of servers means that you can connect to a variety of different servers to carry out your activities. It means that you’ll likely find fewer users on each server or you can just connect to a different server if it is a crowded server.
A VPN With No Log Policy
Free VPNs or unreliable VPN providers often log user data and make money out of it by selling it to the concerned parties for marketing purposes.
Trusted VPN providers like ExpressVPN or NordVPN are transparent to the customers about their logging policies to make sure their privacy and anonymity are not breached at any cost.
Always go for a VPN provider which is audited by a third-party firm and is transparent about its log policies.
A VPN Which Allows Simultaneous Devices
This is the ability of the VPN service to allow more than one device to connect to the VPN. On average, one person can use a maximum number of two or three devices at the same time. Most VPN providers offer a limit of 5 or 6 simultaneous connections while some VPN providers have no limits on connected devices.
Make sure you search first and then make up your mind according to your situation. You might need a VPN for your personal use or cover every device in your household.
Other than that, you can always go for setting up a VPN on your router to cover every device (even the ones which don’t support native VPN apps), but you might need to sacrifice the features VPN services offer.
A VPN With Kill-Switch Feature
This feature is one of the must-haves if you are considering getting a VPN subscription. A VPN kill-switch saves your original identity from getting exposed on the web. Whenever, if by some reason, your VPN crashes, a kill-switch immediately terminates your internet connection so you don’t expose your original identity accidentally on the web. It comes back on as soon as the VPN reconnects.
Wrapping it up!
Whether it be for your personal use or commercial use, VPNs have proved to be efficient in carrying out internet activities with complete privacy. It is high time that you should consider a VPN service as important as an Antivirus tool to have in your software list.