With the continuous bombardment of online privacy and the constant alarming security threat, many are confronted with, the number of people turning to VPN services is on the rise. VPN also is known as Virtual private network is the decisive tool to get the best out of your online freedom and privacy, especially if you spend most of your time online.
What is vpn?
VPN is an acronym for the virtual private network and a service that allows or enables you to have access to the internet privately and safely without any compromise to your information. Furthermore, it allows you to get through restricted content, which naturally you may not have access to using your normal internet connection. With the VPN, you route your connection via a server that allows you to hide your online activities.
There are some basic terms I want you to understand before we dive deeper into the Virtual Private Network:
- VPN Client: This represents the software that links your device/computer to the Virtual Private Network service. At times, the “VPN app” and “VPN client” are used consecutively.
- VPN Server: This represents a single endpoint in the VPN network where the connection and encryption of your internet traffic take place.
- VPN Protocol: This represents the method used by a device to successfully create a secured connection to the Virtual Private Network server.
- VPN Service: This represents an entity, which offers you the capability of using their VPN network. Besides this service, they provide VPN software to clients. To access these services, clients must be subscribed to their packages. VPN providers and Virtual Private Network services are used interchangeably.
How does VPN work?
It is not enough to just subscribe to a VPN service and neglect how it works. Once, you know how it works, you can avoid any loopholes you may intentionally or accidentally open to your attackers or cybercriminals.
Virtual Private Network uses a simple operation to provide the services you need by encrypting your connection between your computer system and the server. You can consider this encrypted connection to be a protected tunnel that allows you to access everything online while appearing in the location of the VPN server that you are connected to. For instance, you may be in the United States and appear to be connected online in China. The VPN server protects your location and uses its server position as yours. This gives you additional security, a high level of online anonymity, and unrestricted access to the internet irrespective of your location.
When you go online, it is like you boarding a commercial flight. The security personnel, baggage handlers, flight attendants, and the ticket agent will need your data to be able to route you to your city. Something similar happens on the internet, your information goes through various servers. If you are just browsing the internet simply for the fun of it, then you shouldn’t border about anyone seeing your information. However, if it has to do with business email, online banking, or anything sensitive, the story is very different. Without using a VPN, all your online activity is traceable to your physical location. Besides this, your device exposes your IP address. Each computer system or device that you use in connecting to the internet has a distinct address.
However, with a VPN, you can hide your primary location and use that of the Virtual Private Network server to protect yourself against cybercriminals who are on the rise. Most Virtual Private Network service providers maintain their servers throughout the world. This gives users unlimited connection and unrestricted content all round the world. You need to buy or subscribe to these services before these unlimited possibilities can be achieved. Once you buy and download the software to your computer or device, you can connect to anywhere instantly.
Why use vpn services?
- Accessing the internet without revealing their location or authenticate IP address. You can attribute this to online anonymity
- Get unrestricted access to certain websites and content from people or country with restrictions because of their location
- Providing an additional level of security through the encryption of their internet connection
- Bypass censorship by easily getting access to regional restrictions
- Prevent network admins, third parties, government agencies, and their internet service provider from spying the activities online
- Protect and hider their sensitive private data including photos, credit cards, bank passwords, and other relevant information
- Access the internet without any fear of attack or compromise
- Protection against cybercriminals or hackers especially when they are using public Wi-Fi connections in airports, hotels, and cafes
- To stream media, P2P download and perform torrent activities
How safe is VPN?
Today, VPN security is causing a strong debate among various IT professionals. However, it is important to note that no two services can be identical in terms of its security or what it offers. In view of that, once you can confidently say that VPN is safe to use for your internet and information security if it is a high-quality VPN.
Notwithstanding, it doesn’t mean that there are no flaws. Today, there are over 350 VPNs on the market with the increasing number if you consider the free Virtual Private Network apps we have in the Google Play and Apple stores. Regrettably, these VPNs with free services have bugs, flaws, and poses huge security and privacy threat to your personal information. However, to protect your data and keep you safe from any leak to your information and device, it is important to choose a high-quality Virtual Private Network.
If possible, you should avoid using any free VPN app or services because recent studies have discovered that about 84% of users’ data leak arises from free Android VPN apps. In as much as most people have come to terms that these apps should be avoided, countless millions are using them for various activities. There are various reasons why you should avoid using free VPNs if you want to take your online security seriously. These include:
- Traffic leaks such as DNS and IP address leaks
- Stolen bandwidth
- Hidden tracking of your activities
- Embedded malware, which is common with free VPN
- Fraud including financial and identity theft
- Browser hijacking
Importantly, be on the watch for various VPN scams ranging from fake reviews, bogus features to lifetime VPN subscriptions. As a standard rule, when you subscribe to a VPN service, you should get what you are paying for.
Are VPN services legal?
The answer to this question will vary depending on what part of the world you live in. Well, in the Western world, it is legal to use VPN services as long as they are for security and online privacy. Most businesses use VPN daily and I don’t see this changing anytime soon.
Nevertheless, there are countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Oman, Russian, Belarus, and Turkmenistan that don’t allow the use of VPN services. These countries frown at the use of such services because it empowers the users to have access to everything possible online.
For instance, in China, the government has fortified its “Great Firewall” to block websites and VPNs. Notwithstanding, some internet users use certain Virtual Private Network to get through these issues. Another country whose measure to ban the use of VPNs have failed is Russia because the VPN traffic is hidden and looks like a normal HTTPS traffic.
Importantly, VPN services are used routinely by businesses and private individuals throughout the world for their network security. Hence, it is unlikely for use to see an outright ban on the use of VPN considering their importance for private and business security.
If it is obvious that VPN services help to protect or hide one’s IP address and location, can’t people use it for fraudulent or bad activities? Emphatically, yes! However, VPN is like steel because we can use them for various purposes including transportation, buildings, and bridges. Additionally, its usage isn’t limited to these as we have seen the use of steel in making tanks, guns, and building bombs, which harm people. Contrasting the negative impact with its positive influence, are we to say that the ban on steel will yield a better result? Obviously, not because that will be stupid and insane to do. It is like cutting your left leg because of a minor injury that you have.
The same holds for VPNs and encryption. Businesses, banks, and different websites involved in the use of sensitive data, which must be encrypted and used for daily purposes. Irrespective of how people misuse this encryption and Virtual Private Network tools, they are needed for our online security and privacy.
The Role of VPN for Online Priacy
Undoubtedly, VPN provides both security and online privacy. As already indicated, without any Virtual Private Network for your device, your internet service provider, or cybercriminals can monitor and record your online activities easily. This could range from your social media interactions with friends and families, comments you make, websites you visit, your preferences, etc., today, we have various privacy violations where government or agencies require an internet service provider to provide the logs of users browsing and data activities. Therefore, with a VPN, all your internet service providers see is that you are online with your device connected to a VPN server. However, your data is secured and encrypted without third parties having the ability to read your information.
Furthermore, the role of Virtual Private Network for your online security cannot be underplayed because VPN when connected to a public WiFi, you expose yourself and because a prey for hackers to steal your credit cards, identity, password, and bank accounts, etc. Without a VPN, you single yourself out for possible attacks. If you want to prevent and protect your data from hackers and third parties, it behooves you to consider using a Virtual Private Network service to encrypt your data.
Performance and speed of VPN
Numerous activities happen when you use a VPN. Your computer or device is performing the encryption and decryption of data packets, which is then routed via a distant VPN server. These processes take resources, time, and affect the overall speed of your internet.
Therefore, to get the best out of your internet speed when using a VPN, it is essential to link up with the closest VPN server that suits your purpose. For instance, if you reside in Canada and want to gain access to blocked content, which is open for individuals in the United States, the best option will be to choose a server in New York rather than a server in California.
A good way to detect a quality VPN service provider is through your internet speed because the service shouldn’t have any impact on your internet speed. Alternatively, if you use a low-quality Virtual Private Network service, it will considerably decrease your internet speed. What may lead to this is the overload of the server by different users.
Despite this, you have a role in helping increase your VPN speed. Ensure you patronize a reliable Virtual Private Network provider with good performance. Additionally, you can connect to a nearby server that is less congested. If these aforementioned options solutions don’t work, then you should consider changing your VPN protocols. Furthermore, check your device, your network, and internet service provider because this can influence your internet speed.
The Future of VPNs
In all fairness, I have touched on every possible angle to your internet privacy and security in regards to VPN. The prospect for VPNs looks bright, even if many don’t consider it for the right reasons. Online censorship, corporate tracking, and mass surveillance will continue to be a driving force for high usage of VPN. We have seen that internet service providers are increasingly blocking access to various websites ranging from torrent to adult content websites.
Furthermore, concerns over users’ privacy and surveillance are increasing swiftly. For instance, in countries like:
- The United Kingdom is regarded as the worst country for your privacy. Telephone companies and internet service providers are necessitated by-laws to record text messages, all browsing history, and locations of their customers. These data are offered to the United Kingdom government agencies without any warrant available.
- In the United States, service providers can legally record browsing details, text messages, and sell information to advertisers. Furthermore, they are obligated to provide relevant information to surveillance agencies as the need arises.
- In Australia, which has a similar challenge, the government has implemented a compulsory data retention scheme, which requires telecom operators to collect calls, text messages and internet connection data.
Performing various online activities without using a reliable VPN will expose you to various dangers in the world. Therefore, to safeguard your data and hinder cybercriminals from invading into your privacy, it is unnegotiable for you to install a VPN service on your device or computer system. Your online privacy and security is a priority if you want to safeguard your data.