What Is A VPN? Virtual Private Network

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Virtual Private Network (VPN) gives us online privacy by protecting our personal data when we use the internet. VPN encrypts our online traffic and hence hides our IP address and physical location.

Benefits of using VPN –

  • It secures our data over a public wifi network.
  • We can access blocked websites.
  • We can bypass internet censorship.
  • It prevents ISP tracking. 

How does a VPN work?

VPN works by routing our device’s internet connection through our chosen VPN’s private server instead of our internet service provider (ISP). So, when data is transmitted to the internet, it comes from a VPN rather than directly from our computer. This means our ISP and third parties cannot see what we do online.

Why should we use VPNs?

Many times we use public wifi networks. Since anyone can jump onto the unsecured wifi network, we don’t know who might monitor our internet traffic and what data they might steal from us. VPNs provide anonymity and encryption and protect all of our online activities. So, anyone trying to track something on a public network will get nothing.

Our Internet Service Provider (ISP) can track all our online activity. ISP tracks us through an IP address. Though we can trust our ISP, they may share our browsing history with advertisers, police, government or any third party. Since VPNs encrypt our online traffic, it’s very hard for ISP to monitor what we are doing online.

Also Read: What is end-to-end encryption? How does it work?

Other than security, there are many reasons to use VPNs –

Streaming platforms such as Netflix, YouTube make some videos available only in certain countries. But as said earlier, VPN encrypts our IP address. So, we appear to be surfing from another country.

Many websites are blocked from certain locations, VPNs help us to access those blocked websites by creating a data tunnel between our local network and another location provided by VPN service.

Various VPN Protocols

Open VPN

Open VPN is one of the leading VPN protocols. It is an open-source protocol and its source is available for anyone. Open VPN is considered the most secure VPN protocol.

Point to Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP)

PPTP is the least secure protocol and is used by free VPN services. It is one of the oldest protocols developed by Microsoft. PPTP is not recommended to use.

Layer 2 Tunnel Protocol (L2TP)

L2TP was developed by Microsoft and Cisco. It is a combination of PPTP and L2F protocols. It doesn’t have encryption capabilities.

Internet Key Exchange version 2 (IKEv2)

IKEv2 is particularly popular with mobile devices. It provides fast connections and can easily switch between mobile data and Wi-Fi connections.

How to use a VPN?

Whenever we are online, just start the VPN. It acts as a secure tunnel between us and the internet.

We can change our IP address to an IP address provided by our VPN server.

Now we can surf the internet at will.

Is a VPN really so secure?

VPN only protects our IP address and encrypts our browsing history but it cannot protect us from viruses and malware. For that, we have to use antivirus software.

If malware is introduced in our device, it can steal or damage our data. So, we must use a VPN together with antivirus software.

When we are logged in somewhere like a social media platform, that platform can still track what we like, share or comment. 

Also Read: Dark Web – The Other Side of the Internet

How to choose the best VPN?

When it comes to security, it’s better to pay for a VPN service. Free VPN services may sell our data to third-party businesses.

One should choose a VPN provider which has no-logging policies, which means they don’t record what we do online. They should only have our IP address and nothing else. So, one must read the privacy policy carefully.

A VPN provider should provide more servers, so when we need an IP address in a specific country, it should be available.

A VPN with multiple device support under one subscription is a better choice.

So, choose the best VPN service and browse freely at will. Comment down if you have any suggestions about which VPN provider is best.

Reference:

https://www.kaspersky.com/resource-center/definitions/what-is-a-vpn

https://www.avg.com/en/signal/what-is-a-vpn-and-why-should-you-use-one#topic-6

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