All you need to know about virtual private networks

What is VPN? Virtual private network, the abbreviation itself gives an insight to what it could be. VPN users have their network traffic funneled through a secure tunnel or a type of network connection between computers on the internet which allows users to browse the web securely and anonymously. VPN’s earlier uses were to securely connect remote branches together or roaming employees to the office network. But currently it has become an important and popular entity among consumers too, as the user gets protection from attacks when they are linked to public wireless networks, they could access content and websites blocked by geolocation and et al. Given their importance, let us dig in some information about VPNs:

Stay secure and have privacy with VPN

Security experts warn against open wireless networks, such as in a coffee shop or airport, as it pose a serious risk to users being hijacked or snooped over web traffic. Not using HTTPS security protocol make it more vulnerable. Cases of invading privacy by Internet service provider also came into observation when data of users’ online habits were being sold to advertisers. A VPN quashes those risks.

In some countries, governments access history or current web browsing of user who visit certain websites in order to identify dissidents and political affiliations – practices that  menace human rights and free speech.

A VPN is there to eliminate all of these risks. By using a VPN connection, you get protected from identity theft as it hides IP address which makes third party invasion of your privacy impossible.

Does all VPNs poses same feature?

When we use VPN at home or office, we anticipate safety from hackers. After all, who will hack  an encrypted network?

Well, it turns out that not all VPNs are created equally as they don’t follow the same technology. For instance, the Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) is fast, but CloudCracker intercepted the network. So, it is considered much less secure than other protocols like OpenVPN and IPSec, which facet like SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) or TLS (Transport Layer Security). With TLS-based VPNs the type of security attributes are also important.

OpenVPN, which is an open-source software has many combinations of protocols, ciphers and key exchange. The most common implementation offered by VPN service providers for OpenVPN connections is routed or bridged configurations and remote access facilities.

It’s worth mentioning that VPNs introduce overhead, so proportionality gets implemented here as stronger the encryption is, the impact on the connection speed will be bigger. The selection of VPN technology and encryption strength should be made on a case-by-case basis, depending on what kind of data will be passed through it.

The security needs of organizations and consumers varied a lot, they are concerned about protection against opportunistic traffic snooping attacks.

Bypass geoblocking and firewalls

Users use VPNs to access content that is unavailable in their region, although this relies on the fact that how well content owners impose restrictions. VPN service providers regulate servers in many countries and permit users to easily switch between them. Users might access through a U.K.-based server to access constrained BBC content or through a U.S.-based server to access Netflix content that’s unavailable in their region.

Users in countries like China, where the governments frequently block access to certain websites for political reasons, use VPNs to bypass those constraints.

Which to go with, free or  paid

We all have a love for free stuff. But when we talk about services such as IT support or VPN services, what you invest is what you get as return. Hence VPN is no exception. Most free VPN services provide PPTP VPNs which is insecure, has limited selection of servers and slower connection speed due to overcrowded servers.

Commercial VPN services are based upon subscription-based model and distinguish themselves by respite of download speed throttling or data limits. VPN services are additional offerings by some antivirus vendors and these could be counted as a middle ground between free and the more costlier commercial solutions, as users could get better deals if they also have antivirus licenses from those vendors.

Have your own

Finally, there’s the option to run your own VPN server at home so you can tunnel back and access services and devices on your home network from anywhere. This is a much better option than exposing those services directly to the internet, which is how hundreds of thousands of Internet-of-Things devices have recently been compromised and used to launch distributed denial-of-service attacks.

There is an option available, if you want a secure access to your network  at home, you can set VPN with which you can tunnel back and access services. It is also possible for get-at-able your shared files and resources connecting via internet. Protecting your privacy, you follow a general rule, the fewer ports opened in your  router, the better. Disconnect or disable UPnP so that IP camera does not invade through your firewall and becomes available to the world.

So, stay updated with VPNs and configure your VPN server securely.