Secure Your Online Presence using VPN Services
The term “virtual private network” (VPN) might sound intimidating, but these devices are easier to use than you might think. Whether you’re an individual or large company, there are many benefits to using VPN Services. Traveling and using public Wi-Fi, transmitting sensitive information or even just enjoying entertainment options on Netflix are all activities that can be done more safely through the use of a VPN.
What is a VPN?
A VPN or Virtual Private Network creates a private network connection between devices through the internet. VPNs are used to safely and anonymously transmit data over public networks. They work by masking user IP addresses and encrypting data so it’s unreadable by anyone not authorized to receive it.
What Do VPNs Do?
In basic terms, a VPN provides an encrypted server and hides your IP address from corporations, government agencies and would-be hackers. A VPN protects your identity even if you are using public or shared Wi-Fi, and your data will be kept private from any prying internet eyes.
A VPN circumvents your personal ISP, instead of sending your internet connection to a hosted server. With servers located all over the world, users then have the ability to “relocate” themselves and access the internet from nearly anywhere. Encryption adds an extra layer of security, particularly for businesses that are frequently utilizing remote access. It can also be a helpful tool for travel, gaming and streaming.
How to set up a VPN?
There are two common ways to access VPN services for individuals:
1. Use a VPN provider
You can choose a VPN service that can be accessed either from your browser or by downloading an app or software to your device. These are subscription-based services that typically charge on a per device basis. Hence they can be quite expensive to set up. Also, each device needs to be configured individually.
2. Use a VPN router
This involves either purchasing a router with a VPN connection pre-installed or installing VPN software yourself on your home router. The advantage of this approach is that every device accessing the internet via this router gets protected automatically.
What kind of VPNs are there?
There are many different types of VPNs, but you should definitely be familiar with the three main types:
Often not all employees of a company have access to a company laptop they can use to work from home. During the corona crisis in Spring 2020, many companies faced the problem of not having enough equipment for their employees. In such cases, use of a private device (PC, laptop, tablet, mobile phone) is often resorted to. In this case, companies fall back on an SSL-VPN solution, which is usually implemented via a corresponding hardware box.
The prerequisite is usually an HTML-5-capable browser, which is used to call up the company’s login page. HTML-5 capable browsers are available for virtually any operating system. Access is guarded with a username and password.
A site-to-site VPN is essentially a private network designed to hide private intranets and allow users of these secure networks to access each other’s resources.
A site-to-site VPN is useful if you have multiple locations in your company, each with its own local area network (LAN) connected to the WAN (Wide Area Network). Site-to-site VPNs are also useful if you have two separate intranets between which you want to send files without users from one intranet explicitly accessing the other.
Site-to-site VPNs are mainly used in large companies. They are complex to implement and do not offer the same flexibility as SSL VPNs. However, they are the most effective way to ensure communication within and between large departments.
Connecting via a VPN client can be imagined as if you were connecting your home PC to the company with an extension cable. Employees can dial into the company network from their home office via the secure connection and act as if they were sitting in the office. However, a VPN client must first be installed and configured on the computer.
This involves the user not being connected to the internet via his own ISP, but establishing a direct connection through his/her VPN provider. This essentially shortens the tunnel phase of the VPN journey. Instead of using the VPN to create an encryption tunnel to disguise the existing internet connection, the VPN can automatically encrypt the data before it is made available to the user.
Benefits of using VPN Services for Business
There are many benefits to using a VPN, such as securing your internet connection from malicious third parties and preventing your internet service provider (ISP) from tracking your activity. Here are the ten biggest advantages of having a VPN.
Enhanced online privacy
The biggest benefit of using a VPN is improving your privacy and security while using the Internet. True anonymity is nearly impossible to achieve online these days, as third parties collecting personal data from consumers are pervasive. Using a VPN can help protect your data so you have greater security and privacy online.
A VPN routes your internet traffic through its own private server instead of through your ISP. It encrypts all of your data using VPN protocols, which are sets of rules or instructions for moving information, and sends that data through a VPN tunnel before it reaches the internet.
Secure and encrypted internet connection
Your internet connection may be less secure than you think. ISPs and other third parties can see your internet activity and use this information for their benefit.
One of the reasons VPNs are so popular is that they address this issue by creating an encrypted internet connection. No one can access your data while it passes through the VPN’s tunnel.
This added layer of security is even more important when conducting sensitive online activities, such as checking your bank account or making a purchase at an online storefront. Your VPN will encrypt your internet traffic so no third-parties other than the VPN provider can lay eyes on the transactions you complete.
Hide your IP address
First, a VPN lets you control your personal information and protect private data. One way it does so is by shielding your IP address.
A VPN can hide your IP address by routing your web traffic through a VPN server. As we’ve already mentioned, IP addresses can be used to identify specific devices and browsing locations, and this information is normally given out to any website you visit. With a VPN, you appear online via the VPN server’s IP address, so your own personal data doesn’t have to be exposed.
In addition to protecting your privacy, hiding your real IP address can also limit the threat of doxxing, cyberattacks, and online harassment.
Browse from home while you’re abroad
When you’re traveling abroad, you may struggle to access the sites and services you normally use. Online banking sites may block you if you connect from an unusual location, while social media apps may force you to go through extensive security measures every time you log on. With a VPN service, you can avoid the hassle and just browse as if you never left your home country.
If you are based in the US but have gone on vacation to Europe, for example, you can connect to a server in your home state. Then, when you use the internet, websites will think you never left the country. This allows for a seamless online experience, wherever you are in the world.
Safe and private browsing on public Wi-Fi networks
As convenient as public Wi-Fi is in places like coffee shops, airports, malls and hotels, using it comes with some serious drawbacks. The chances that someone will access your private data are much higher when you’re using a public Wi-Fi network. In fact, any sensitive information you share over public Wi-Fi – passwords, your emails, personal identifiable information – could be at risk.
A VPN encrypts your data so it’s protected, even when you’re using a public Wi-Fi network. Make sure to connect to your VPN before browsing on the public network to keep any data from slipping through. Once connected, you can check your email or pay your bills confidently.
Secure remote access to business networks
VPNs aren’t just for personal use: They can also be useful in a business context, such as for remotely accessing a business network. A VPN allows you to securely connect to your shared business network, protecting the files and information you share over this connection. Your company may even require you to use a VPN in the workplace for connecting to the shared business network due to security concerns.
Other solutions for protecting remote access to a shared network, such as using a secure leased line from your internet service provider, are often more expensive and difficult to manage. Using a VPN is a simple, easy-to-implement solution for businesses, especially those with remote workers.
Benefits of VPN for gaming
Outside of the business world, VPNs are also popular with gamers. Here are some of the most common gaming VPN uses:
Access a Wider Library of Games
Since using a VPN means your internet connection is re-routed, you have more options when it comes to gaming access, especially regarding cloud gaming services such as Stadia. Depending on the provider, certain VPNs can help you access games available outside your region. Likewise, some countries ban games due to graphic content. With a VPN, you can get around those restrictions by connecting through a server in a different country.
Play In Public
It’s great to take advantage of free public Wi-Fi when you’re ready to play, but using an unsecured network carries risks. Keep your gaming devices safe by using a VPN.
Protect Yourself From the Trolls
The stakes can get high in multi-player games and occasionally people overreact. Having a VPN protects your identity and IP address, so that if you inadvertently upset someone, they are not able to track your location.
Sidestep ISP Slowdowns
Some internet service providers knowingly slow down their network for one reason or another. With a VPN, you can avoid unnecessary ISP lag.
Drawbacks of using a VPN
Despite the benefits of a VPN, there are also some disadvantages you should keep in mind, including the cost of VPN services and a potential decrease in your internet speeds.
Can be prone to VPN blocking
Some websites and apps may try to block you if they think you’re using a VPN. This doesn’t happen often, but if it does, you can usually fix the problem by closing the browser or application window, connecting to a different VPN server, and then trying to access the website or service again. On a second attempt, the issue will usually be resolved.
Decrease in internet speed
VPNs encrypt your internet traffic and route it through remote servers all over the world. This process enhances your privacy online but can also result in slower internet speeds. If your activity only involves smaller amounts of data, such as browsing web pages, the drop probably won’t be too disruptive. For demanding activities, such as streaming video or downloading video games, the slower speeds will be much more noticeable.
Some VPNs are insecure
While premium VPN providers like NordVPN boost privacy and strengthen security, some free VPNs do the opposite of paid options and can actually make your data less safe. If a VPN provider doesn’t charge you to use its service, it is unlikely to maintain stable and secure infrastructure and may even sell information on your internet activity to make a profit. When it comes to the safety of your data, it’s always worth investing in a genuinely secure and professional service.
When choosing the best VPN for your needs, you should consider the security and privacy a service offers first. The next priority should be the VPN connection speed because you want to maintain a fast, uninterrupted internet experience. Finally, take into account the number of server locations available and any extra features offered through the VPN application.