We often hear of security experts speak about the benefits of using VPN services when using the Internet. VPNs certainly offer functionalities that make them very useful in the digital era. But, have you ever got wondered what exactly VPNs are and how to use them? If you have, then you’re in luck – here’s a quick explainer to get you up to speed.
VPN is short for Virtual Private Network. Essentially, VPN allows anonymity of Internet usage, hence ensuring the websites you visit are unable to track you.
Let’s try to understand how it works. When you don’t use a VPN, your router has a designated IP address which acts as an identifier. It connects to a server that is connected to the Internet and your unique IP address helps to identify everything you do on the Internet.
But when you use a VPN service, you connect to a secure Internet server run by a separate VPN provider and then connect to the Internet. The connection between your computer and the Internet is completely encrypted. The network traffic is funneled through a secure virtual funnel which ensures that your identity remains masked.
A key benefit of using a VPN is that it can help you overcome geo-blocking restrictions. By using a VPN, you may be able to use and access services restricted to specific geographies. VPN is often used in countries with authoritarian governments to bypass security restrictions. Citizens of such countries use VPN to evade surveillance and access websites that have been blocked by the government.
The best benefit of a VPN though is the security that it offers. VPN data is encrypted hence preventing Man in the Middle attacks where threat actors can intercept data on the way to the server. For that reason, VPN services are a good tool to use when using the Internet from a location like an airport or a coffee shop where you are not sure if your data is secured.
VPN services are offered by many providers. There are free VPNs as well that are offered, but you should be careful about using a free VPN. Keep in mind, that while VPN encrypts your data from the Internet Service Provider (ISP), the VPN provider can still see your data. Free VPN providers may be collecting your data for their own benefit while providing the service to you. Also, free VPN providers may show you malicious advertisements and make your browsing speed even slower
Paid VPNs are available at different price ranges and are an option worth checking out. They may have bandwidth limits depending on price but may offer faster and more secure connections.
Enterprises are already widely using VPN and usage has increased dramatically in 2020, thanks to the ongoing pandemic. With remote work becoming the norm, enterprises are using VPN to enable employees to connect to work servers while staying secure. For personal users also, VPN offers an added layer of protection and anonymity and should be used, especially when using the Internet on a public network. However, do carefully check and cross-check all aspects of your favored VPN provider before signing up.
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