VPN services have become an essential security tool for the online world. By use of these services, you can unblock any restricted content; stream videos from sites that are unavailable on other platforms, and protect yourself from invasive government censorship and intrusion into personal privacy.
Using a VPN has become essential to carry out your everyday internet activities, but before you use a VPN, you need to know how VPNs work. By just tapping a single button, a VPN can turn your traffic into gibberish to the ones trying to get hold of your personal data or even your ISP.
- A VPN creates a secure tunnel between you and the VPN server to make sure every internet activity you perform goes through that protected network.
- While using a VPN, no outer influences can see or track your traffic. Even your ISP or the government agencies are unable to track you.
- When you are connected to a VPN, you can access any geo-restricted page on the web, play any geo-based AR game by spoofing your location, or stream geo-blocked movies on streaming platforms!
What Is A VPN And How Does It Work?
When you connect to a VPN, it protects your identity and guards against hackers, spying from third parties, and other forms of online attacks by masking or “hiding” your IP address. With a masked IP address, you can surf the internet anonymously without exposing yourself to potential dangers.
To explain to you how VPNs work, a VPN encrypts all traffic between your computer and a remote server. keeping you safe from hackers and other third parties.
The encryption protocol routes internet traffic through its secure tunnel to hide your identity so that others can’t see it or use it against you.
How Does VPN Encryption Work?
When you use the internet, you visit pages and websites with your original IP address, which means that your traffic is open, if not anybody, your ISP, or the government authorities can easily see your traffic flow. When you turn on your VPN and start browsing on your computer, whatever you do on the internet is guarded by a VPN and the encryption method (set of rules) decides how your traffic is routed from your end to the VPN server and then to the destination.
Protecting your identity is a highly regarded concern after the advent of increased technological advancements. To protect yourself, there are two types of VPNs pertinent to online safety:
Remote Access VPN
This is your everyday VPN to unblock geo-restricted websites. You can connect to any server in the world remotely with just a quick-connect button. Although in today’s world, VPNs are all about online security and bogus identity, the purposes they were created for were different. VPNs were widely used by companies to make sure their remote employees could connect to the internal network of the company and use company resources easily.
Personal Remote Access VPN
This is the commercial VPN everyone uses for their personal activities such as browsing, surfing the internet, playing geo-blocked games, or streaming content from international streaming libraries.
Business Remote Access VPN
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is created by a company or organization as an internal network so that the company employees can easily have access to the company’s resources anytime and anywhere.
Site-to-site VPN is often used by businesses or companies which have multiple offices in different locations (in the same country or different countries). It is used to make sure each location is connected to the different locations securely.
Intranet Site-to-Site VPN
When one office of a company is connected to different offices of the same company via site-to-site VPN, this is Intranet site-to-site VPN.
Extranet Site-to-Site VPN
When an office of a company connects to an external organization or entity which doesn’t fall in the company’s jurisdictions via site-to-site VPN, this is Extranet site-to-site VPN.
A VPN protocol is a set of instructions that dictate how data moves through the internet to reach its intended destination. This protocol ensures that designated information will be routed and, if desired, secured by encryption.
Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP)
The Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP), a 1990s protocol introduced by Microsoft, is available on most operating systems and often provides adequate security. However, it has been cracked over time and it’s not as widely used because it cannot protect clients at the level they require. But it is still combined with other protocols.
WireGuard is not too old in the VPN industry, merely introduced for its speed. WireGuard is the best option if you are looking for a fast VPN connection with no throttles. If you switch a lot between your WiFi network to mobile data, then this protocol is for you.
WireGuard is open-source, which allows developers and experts to find flaws in it and remove those flaws to come up with a better version. It is flexible, easier to maintain and audit as it has only 4,000 lines compared to OpenVPN which has more than 70,000.
Internet Key Exchange Protocol Version 2 (IKEv2)
It has 256-bit encryption, usually used with IPSec to create secure VPN bridges. Using the Diffie-Hellman key exchange, IKEv2 has no vulnerabilities yet and is considered one of the widely used protocols. It also allows Perfect Forward Secrecy.
L2TP and IPSec are combined for stronger encryption than PPTP. L2TP is less costly to maintain but more difficult to break when implemented. When it’s used, L2TP/IPSec provides web surfing and messaging privacy over an encrypted connection that a hacker would find very difficult to decode.
This protocol offers 256-bit encryption that is practically impossible to crack and makes it one of the safest available. It is a widely used protocol almost offered by every VPN provider because of the balance it has between security and speed. Furthermore, developers have access to this open-source code so they can continue making improvements on its security–making it even safer for all.
How to Use A VPN?
There are free VPNs which are valuable resources for casual internet users but a paid version is more appropriate if you plan to use the internet regularly. To help people find the right VPN service, there’s lots of information available and different providers. Even though providers might rely on free services with ads or prompts, do your research first before signing up.
1. Choose A VPN Plan
First, you need to find a reliable VPN service. You can choose from plans of one month or six months, one year or two years. If you are just an occasional VPN user then you may not want a long-term plan. Lastly, lifetime users will benefit from discounted rates when purchasing longer-term subscriptions which may be seasonal or permanent depending on your VPN provider.
2. Sign Up For The Plan
So you made your mind on which VPN plan you would go for. Now it’s time to sign up for that plan. You just have to go on the website of your provider and enroll yourself. Then you have to provide your basic information such as, email address and bank account information after which the payment will be deducted from your account and you’ll get the VPN credentials on your email.
3. Install VPN
Now you just download and install the VPN software on your device. If you are using a handheld device, go to your store and search for the VPN provider. Launch your VPN app and enter the credentials which you got earlier on your email and log in.
4. Connect to the VPN
You can either use the quick-connect button or set a different location of your preferences by tapping the ‘Locations’ button. Connect to the VPN server and then check your IP address on the web if it’s masked or not.
How to Use A VPN In Windows?
- Create a VPN Profile first by heading to Settings and then to Network and Internet.
- Select Add a VPN Connection.
- For the VPN Provider, select Windows (built-in).
- Enter a name for your VPN in the Connection name.
- Enter the VPN server in Server Address.
- From the VPN Type drop-down menu, select a VPN Protocol.
- Select a method in Type of sign-in, it can either be username and password, smart card, or a certificate.
- Save the settings.
- Click on the network icon and search for your VPN name.
- Connect to your VPN by entering username and password.
How to Use A VPN In macOS?
- First, go to System Preferences, and then head to Network.
- Find the (+) sign in the bottom left and click on it.
- You’ll see a drop-down menu, click it and select VPN.
- Enter a VPN name in Service Name and select VPN protocol in VPN Type.
- Now click Create and add Server Address, Local ID, and Remote ID.
- Go to the Authentication Settings and connect to your VPN, if prompted, enter your credentials.
How to Use A VPN In iOS?
Go to the App Store and download the app for your VPN service.
- Go to the Settings and head to General.
- In the VPN section, tap on Add VPN Configuration.
- Choose a VPN protocol by tapping on Type.
- Go to Configurations and enter a VPN name in Description.
- Enter Remote ID, Server Address, and Local ID.
- Your VPN connection is created, tap on it to use it.
How to Use A VPN In Android?
Go to Google Play Store, then download and install the app for your VPN service.
- Go to the Settings and search for VPN.
- In your VPN settings, you will see a list of already installed connections, tap on Add a VPN Network.
- Enter the name of your VPN, Server Information, and choose a VPN Type.
- Tap on Save and go back to the list of already installed connections.
- Connect to your VPN network.
Why Use A VPN?
VPNs have become a significant cybersecurity tool to secure your online identity and mask your IP address. Although it is not the only reason VPN can be used, there is much more. Here are some reasons why you should use one with your device.
Access Geo-Restricted Websites
If your country has blocked a certain website or if you are traveling abroad where the websites you usually surf do not work there or they are restricted then a VPN will solve all of these problems with just a single tap on a button. When you’re connected to the internet, your location is spoofed as if you are accessing the website from somewhere else and you can easily perform your internet activities with ease.
Secure Access to Public WiFi Networks
One way to avoid privacy concerns on public WiFi is by using a VPN while abroad. Public Wifi often lacks adequate security services and your data might get hacked when traveling overseas, so using the VPN service can bypass censorship blocks that might come into play.
Get Rid Of Website Tracking
Your internet activity can be tracked and followed by third parties, like Google or Facebook, and companies that place ads on those sites based on your behavior.
A VPN ensures that this tracking is avoided by encrypting the connection between you, the websites you visit, and any internet service providers to improve your safety and obscure your data.
Get Minimum Prices While Purchasing Online
Cookies are used to track your purchasing behavior and analyze your buying tendencies. The websites set arbitrary prices for products in the future, based on what they know about you by analyzing this information.
To avoid this, you can use a VPN to hide your online identity so the websites can’t track your purchase behavior. You can also save on products by purchasing the goods at a minimum price as e-commerce websites set different prices for different regions.
How to Choose A VPN?
To protect your identity, it is necessary to get a VPN. With so many providers to choose from, you need to find the one that offers quality services at an affordable price.
High Number Of Servers
When choosing a VPN provider, investigate the number of servers they have and how many locations is being covered. The main reasons are you don’t want to connect to a server that is already being used by a large number of users around the world, which will just slow down your operations. A VPN provider should have a variety of servers so that users can have options to connect to different servers.
Availability Of Latest VPN Protocols
VPN Protocols are a set of rules or instructions to govern the traffic which goes out from your end to the VPN server. Make sure your VPN provider has all the latest protocols available so you can have an uncrackable, secure, and fast VPN connection. OpenVPN is the best choice for a VPN protocol because of its reliability and flexibility, which is why it is used widely around the world.
No Logs Policy
VPN providers can store your traffic and sell it to concerned parties to earn their share of profit. Free VPNs often use these techniques to get their share of providing services. Make sure you choose a VPN that is audited by third-party firms. Reliable VPN providers would be clear and transparent about their logging policies and make sure user identity is protected at all costs.
Simultaneous VPN Connections
It is the ability of the VPN service to connect more than one device at the same time. Most VPN providers offer a limit of 5 to 6 devices simultaneously, like ExpressVPN or NordVPN. But there are other VPN providers which have no limit for simultaneous connections, like Surfshark or IPVanish. So make sure you are clear about this by researching and then choose a VPN provider.
Other than that, you can always cover all your devices with a single VPN subscription if you set up a VPN server on your router but then you can’t enjoy the different features offered by providers.
Kill-Switch is a feature that terminates your internet connection whenever your VPN app crashes because of some reason. This feature makes sure that you don’t expose your original identity on the web accidentally during the downtown of a VPN. Investigate this feature while choosing a VPN provider.