A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a network technology that is used to link multiple computers, servers and any VPN-capable devices through private or public and secured web tunnels. VPN also make use of an encryption system in the transmission of data; hence keeping every bit of information being transmitted from one system to another as secured as possible and therefore can only be accessed by the authorized recipient/s.
Using a VPN let you enhance your web browsing security by accessing information through secure VPN tunnels, bypass censorships and access online content without hassles, and change Your IP and Server for added web browsing anonymity.
In reality, a Virtual Private Network is just a network of different computers, network devices or servers that are connected either through the private or the public domain using secure tunnels. This means that a VPN is not entirely different from a LAN or a WAN, but the data transmission usually happens over a secure network, immaterial of the medium of transfer.
Data transfer is of paramount importance for any organization and individuals alike. In the olden days, data transfer was made through secure, storable and transportable mediums such as discs, and it usually involved a lot of risk and was considered to be time consuming.
However, with access to internet, it has become possible for various organizations and companies to connect their different satellite offices together and make the process of data transfer both fast and seamless. This has allowed various companies to set up shop in different countries around the globe.
This even led to a rise in the number of professionals who started working out of their homes or tiny satellite offices that were set up in convenient locations to reduce the overall costs. But fast, easy and cheap data transfer over the internet led to another issue, SECURITY.
Data transfer over the internet offers the least security. Various hackers, viruses and malicious programs are constantly on the lookout for gaining access to confidential and sensitive data that will give them an opportunity for making financial gains. And leasing special lines across these distances can prove to be extremely expensive. A VPN on the other hand, allows the company to connect via the internet and use the security of secure VPN tunnels. These tunnels are basically encrypted connections created by connecting the devices through intermediary servers often hosted by VPN service providers.
Large companies and Government organizations usually develop their own Virtual Private Networks to manage large projects and host the servers and experts in-house. But managing and hosting a VPN can prove to be quite expensive for smaller companies and individuals, which is why there are dedicated VPN service providers who will look after the technical aspects of managing a VPN, while the subscribers can enjoy VPN services for a small monthly subscription fee.
How does VPN Work?
VPN works through a complex process of traffic rerouting and encrypting. While the detailed explanation can include quite a few technical details and server information, in simpler terms, a VPN works by rerouting your traffic, which is in turn done by connecting your device first to an anonymous VPN server, before proceeding towards your intended online action path. Therefore, the primary duty of a VPN is to connect your device to a VPN server, after which, all the actions and paths will originate from the VPN server itself.
To better understand the concept, you will need to know about the effects your IP on your browsing experience. Every ISP provides a dedicated, or in other cases dynamic, IP for each user. Your dedicated IP address is representative of your actual geographical location, which is the single-most factor that determines your online presence. Even if your ISP provides you with a dynamic IP, the actions performed by you on the network can be traced back to you. This data is often used by websites, Government agencies and other organizations to track your online behavior, censor internet content and outright block you from accessing any online information.
By connecting using a VPN, you can entrust the VPN server to lift all the heavy load, and every action performed by you will only be tracked back to the anonymous VPN server, not your actual IP address. This is something that attracts most users to a VPN service provider, and security of online browsing is just an added bonus.
Read more: List of top VPN providers
What are the differences between VPN and proxy?
Both of these technologies are used to change your IP address. However, they differ in operations (e.g. how they re-route network traffic and change IP addresses). Proxy server is a server that acts as a filter. When using proxy in protecting your internet activities, you have to setup first your internet browser with the correct proxy settings. This means that you can only have secured internet activities when you’re browsing through an internet browser that has proxy settings setup to it.
For VPN, users simply need to install the VPN client software and that’s about it – no need to make tweaks with the internet browsers. Every time users browse the internet, they simply need to connect the VPN client app first to have safe and private internet browsing experiences. The advantage of VPN over proxy is that the former can be used for any internet-capable devices/applications while the latter only works with internet browsers. So what technology offers more secured connections? It has to be VPN, no doubt about that.
Read more: Premium VPN vs Free VPN vs Free Web Proxies
What are the different types of VPN protocols?
There are various types of VPN protocols that people can use to have secured internet connections. Here are the most commonly used VPN protocols.
• Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP)
• Internet Protocol Security (IPSec)
• Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP)
• Layer Two Tunneling Protocol (L2TP)
PPTP and L2TP/IPsec are the more preferred types of protocols because they are the fastest security protocols available today. SSTP and OpenVPN are the best when it comes to security. However, more secured connections means more encryptions; therefore slowing down the connection and browsing experiences on SSTP and OpenVPN.
Read more: Learn about the different VPN protocols
Why use VPN?
There are several benefits of using a VPN service. There isn’t any particular end user or customer specific demographic as far as VPN usage is concerned. From the very outset, VPN can be made useful for the average internet browser, and the benefits may increase from individual user to large organizations.
From an everyday internet user’s perspective, security of online browsing is the key, especially if the user is prone to use various financial related websites and make financial transactions through online payment processors. Along with security, the user may also remain anonymous and can avoid leaving tracks.
A VPN can also be used for accessing blocked content. Internet censorship is a serious issue across several countries throughout the world. Many popular online websites, social media sites and even entertainment channels are blocked for various reasons. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are just a small group of websites that are blocked in countries like China, Iran, Egypt and more. Therefore, citizens of these countries can utilize the services of a VPN service provider to gain access to blocked content.
There are country specific online entertainment websites such as Netflix, Hulu, iPlayer, CBS, etc, that only allow users from a specific country to access their services. For instance, the entire range of Netflix services is only accessible to U.S users, while the BBC iPlayer is only accessible to U.K viewers. Therefore, to watch these channels from a different country, users will need access to VPN.
For companies and organizations, VPN can be helpful in connecting various entities together, and immaterial of the actual physical distance between them, every device can be connected to a same network using VPN without any security issues. This will allow greater flexibility for operations and will allow fast, easy and secure transfer of data from one point to the other.
Read more: What are the 5 main benefits of using a VPN?