What is a VPN and Why You Need One?Vanessa Venugopal
As we advance to an innovative workspace, embrace emerging technologies into our daily routine, and welcome digital transformation into businesses, cyber threats come alongside it. With the ever-growing technology, so are the threats found online.
Earlier this year, Google registered a staggering two million phishing websites in their search engine. That is a 27% increase from January 2020 (1.7 million). Every day we encounter malicious files and websites we do not recognize. Therefore, it ends up causing plenty of damage to businesses and individuals.
But with the growing number of threats comes special software, skilled cybersecurity personnel, and cybersecurity practices one can use to protect personal information. Among the different practices and software, we are to talk about VPN.
As we all know, people often use VPN to hide their IP addresses and gain access to geo-restricted content. But, VPN is more than that. So, in this article, we go in-depth into the topic of VPN.
Anonymity or online privacy is hard to get by these days. With plenty of prying eyes, how is it possible to hide from them, particularly online?
Well, enter VPN.
VPN or Virtual Private Network is a digital tool that provides real-time encryption by masking a user’s internet protocol (IP) address to another server or computer. In this way, the user can appear like they are coming from another country. Hence, making them untraceable and having a secure connection for better privacy from prying eyes and even third parties.
It is said that VPN is far more encrypted and safe than a secure Wi-Fi connection. But we believe that when using a VPN and a secured internet connection, the result is better.
How Does It Work?
When you connect to a VPN, your device’s IP address will be re-routed to another instead of your internet service provider (ISP). Therefore, your IP address becomes secured and hidden from anyone who’s looking into your activities like hackers, ISP, government agencies, and advertisers. Aside from keeping your location and activities safe, VPN creates a virtual and private tunnel.
The tunnel created allows users to share data with the computer or person who only needs to see it. In that way, VPN encrypts the data being transferred from one server to another.
When data is encrypted, the content or information appears in a way no one can read. So, when a hacker tries to spy on the data you send, they see unreadable content. The only way encrypted information can be seen is by using a key. This key is a password that can decrypt the information and make it readable.
But the encryption process depends on the VPN chosen.
Advantages and Disadvantages of VPN
Advantages of VPN
Access geo-restricted content
Let’s face it not every country has access to Netflix or other information online. Sometimes it can be due to the country’s restriction of access to specific content. But with a VPN, you get to access various platforms without restrictions.
Remote work security
With an increase in the demand for freelancers or remote workers, there is no denying that company data and information is at risk. When remote workers connect online, whether the connection is secured or not, sensitive details are at risk.
VPN keeps this information safe by encrypting the content as remote workers access and send data to their employers. It hides the content from others and eliminates the cause of data breaches.
There are plenty of ways to secure your data, and one of which is by using a VPN. Make sure that when following a cybersecurity checklist, you need to include the installation of a VPN.
VPNs are one of the cheapest tools you can invest in for data protection. In fact, it is easy to use and manage.
You can find different VPNs online, free, and paid. If you are planning to invest in a VPN, trying the free version is good. However, if you want to use a VPN for the long-term, paid versions are a better option.
Paid versions offer more features and unlimited data or bandwidth. Furthermore, premium VPNs have better speed and get rid of pesky ads that keep on popping up. However, make sure that the VPN you use doesn’t sell data.
Keeps you safe online
Privacy, nowadays, is a luxury. But using VPN can provide that for you. It secures the IP address and encrypts data that passes through the network. So, whenever someone tries to spy on your data, all they can see is unreadable content.
You can save up from e-commerce shopping or booking a ticket and accommodation. When you use a VPN, you can access sites with offers that are cheaper than others. Find a VPN tool that offers plenty of server locations. So, you can find more options to enjoy discounts and save money.
Despite the benefits you get from VPN, some cons will come along your way as you use the tool. The only way to get rid of these disadvantages is to research a VPN brand with a better offer.
VPNs use an amount of bandwidth which slows down the speed since it uses the user’s internet connection. It’s one of the issues encountered by users. But nowadays, some VPNs don’t affect the connection speed or have a minimal effect.
Connection suddenly drops
Sometimes, some VPNs lose connection, leaving you and your data exposed as your real IP address resurfaces and your encrypted data is no longer secured.
The inconvenience of reconnecting is one of the reasons VPNs are being disregarded. But, more companies make sure that when you disconnect from the server, the Kill Switch feature will turn off your connection with the internet. It is to prevent exposure of data and the IP address.
Configuration is hard to grasp
In general, VPNs are easy to use. But if your VPN isn’t configured, then there’s going to be a bit of complication. Configuring VPN is difficult. You’ll need someone with experience when doing so. If your VPN isn’t configured, you’ll end up with IP and DNS leakage. These will lead to hackers gaining access to your data.
You can select a VPN brand that has set up the configuration or assist users in setting up their VPN.
Presence of VPN blocking software
Now some companies block VPNs when accessing their website. It is to avoid people getting discounts on their e-commerce shops. Websites will require users to register before they use the website to prevent the use of a VPN. The downside is that it stores the users’ IP addresses too.
Although VPNs have disadvantages, some of them have found ways to manage the mentioned cons. All you need is to look for one that would fit what you need.
Here is a shortlist of the best VPNs:
ExpressVPN is the most commonly ranked best VPN, according to tech magazines. It has a friendly app that’s easy to use with fast speed, compatibility with multiple devices, and 24/7 support.
Furthermore, ExpressVPN provides 160 server locations in over 94 countries. It gives you plenty of options where you want your server to be.
Its TrustedServer technology makes sure that every data transferred is not saved on the server or hardware. Plus, the Kill Switch keeps you safe from the IP address and data leakage. Its military-grade encryption (AES-256) is standard security that keeps data protected.
There is no limit on its bandwidth with the premium version.
Get to know more about ExpressVPN and if it’s what you need.
ExpressVPN offers 1, 6, and 12-month plans.
Avast! Hide My Ass
With more than 15 years of experience protecting people, HMA is one VPN you can trust your data with. It has the most servers around the world as compared to its competitors. With over 1100 servers and 290 locations, Avast! Hide My Ass can provide you with unlimited content and access to anything you need.
Despite being an old-timer, HMA doesn’t stay behind its competitors. It includes powerful encryption technology such as AES-256-GCM, 4096-bit RSA, and SHA256 authentication.
It also protects your connection from DDoS attacks.
Get a secure, encrypted connection with NordVPN. You can secure multiple devices with different systems and platforms. You get to secure connections for your Android, Windows, iOS, Linux, macOS, and Android TV. Even proxy extensions from Chrome and Firefox are secured.
It also includes multi-factor authentications, supports split tunneling, changes IP address twice, and prevents data leakage with DNS leak test.
NordVPN offers one-month, one-year, and two-year plans.
Surfshark is a powerful VPN that competes with other VPN services. It has a friendly interface, providing a reliable speed and connection with data leakage. Also includes a kill switch, split tunneling, AES-256 encryption, and supports multiple systems.
It doesn’t log activities or data that passes through the server, comes with camouflage mode, No borders mode, and IKEv2/IPsec or OpenVPN for protocol.
Surfshark offers one-month, 6-month, and 24-month plans.
Conclusion: Do You Need a VPN?
After getting to know what a VPN is and how it works, it’s clear that a VPN offers a lot to its users. You can ensure that the data you transfer from one server to another is safe from prying eyes. Furthermore, you get to access any content you want anywhere you are.
So, ensure to install a VPN that meets your demand and start keeping your online activities and data safe from anyone online.