How VPN works and why you need one
Connectivity has become common, and the Internet has become a source of connectivity for everyone worldwide. However, the digital space is still like a jungle where hackers can easily invade your privacy, and you can’t do anything about it.
Unless you take preventive action!
You can now save all your sensitive information and secure your privacy. No ill-equipped and unethical hackers or totalitarian regimes can access your personal information.
Therefore, avoid keeping everything open on public networks with VPN.
So, what is the deal with VPN?
Certain activities take place on the internet, which can sometimes bring you in harm’s way. Some of them are:
It’s a system that attaches various networks. The arrangement is used for luring cyber attackers and then detecting their hacking attempts. This helps users to have unlawful access to the information systems of others.
This is an extension of the Firefox browser. It uses packet sniffers to intercept unencrypted cookies from sites like Twitter and Facebook. Using Firesheep helps in collecting information of the victims after which the user/attacker takes over the session on that particular social platform.
It is possible via open and public Wi-Fi networks. Here, the user who joins the network is asked for information to log in to a spoofed page. As soon as that user logs in, the data present in his device is stolen.
Such dishonest behavior has made the Internet a dangerous place. It can be acceptable to some extent if you are using those public networks for entertainment purposes.
However, keep in mind to not undertake official work where you access and handle sensitive records from your company’s or employer’s private servers from public networks. This can be problematic when you are doing it from unsecured networks like a public Wi-Fi hotspot of a coffee shop. Wi-Fi spoofing can put those sensitive data, your job, or your business at stake.
Virtual Private Networks is a technical marvel that can keep you safe from these awful behaviors. VPN allows its users to access private networks as well as share remote data securely via public networks. Similar to firewalls that help in protecting your data and other essential information offline, VPNs do the same thing for you online.
How do VPNs operate?
VPN technically resembles a WAN or Wide Area Network as the former has features almost similar to the latter. That’s because its front end preserves the functionality, appearance, and security much like public networks.
Consequently, it’s a massive hit among corporations to secure their systems and protect sensitive data while connecting numerous data centers. Additionally, this network is gaining a reputation among individual Internet users, and this group has more members than just people who use Torrents.
There are numerous legitimate reasons for its popularity.
- VPNs employ many encryptions and connection protocols that help in generating virtual peer-to-peer or P2P networks. Further, even if a snooper manages to siphon off some portion of that transmitted data, he or she won’t be able to use that information because of the encryption.
- Virtual Private Networks also help people to spoof physical location. That is, the VPN provider will replace the real IP address of its user, thus allowing the bypass of content filters.
Still not clear? Well, the drill is to hide your location, which is currently, say, Tehran and the VPN will help in showing that you are in Texas. Therefore, you can comfortably slip past those government filters that do not allow you to watch YouTube videos. Sounds like a dream, right?
What are the security protocols that VPNs use?
VPNs have numerous security protocols, each with varying degrees of security and distinct features. However, some of them are common among users.
Internet Protocol Security (IPsec)
It is used to protect internet communications. Users can operate IPsec in two different modes. Its Transport mode encrypts data belonging to packet messages only. Contrarily, the Tunneling mode can encrypt the whole data packet.
One of the significant advantages of IPsec is its ability to run in collaboration with numerous other protocols so that the security level can be increased.
SSL and TLS protocols
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer while TLS is the acronym for Transport Layer Security. Service providers and online retailers use these two protocols extensively to enhance their security levels. They operate in line with the handshake method; that is, they involve digital certificates those are helpful in exchanging encryption keys and authenticating the session to create secure connections.
PPTP or Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol
From approximately the mid-‘90s the VPN protocol has been using this PPTP. Users can install it on various operating systems that have come since Windows 95 launched.
However, it does not involve itself in encryption. Instead, it tunnels as well as encapsulates data packet. Using an additional protocol like TCP or GRE can help with the encryption part. Therefore, even though the security of PPTP has to be eclipsed by newer methods, there is no doubt that it is one of most reliable protocols of VPN.
Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol
It is also called the L2TP and is famous for tunneling and encapsulation instead of providing confidentiality or encryption. However, when L2TP and IPsec are combined, the two together create the best and most secured VPN client. That’s because the former tunnels the data packet and its latter counterpart handle encryption along with channeling security and checking data integrity. All this is done to ensure the arrival of data packets without compromising the channel.
SSH or Secure Shell
If you are in the quest for a protocol that provides both tunnels and encryption to protect them, then SSH is the one you are searching. This one allows its users to transmit unsecured data or info by directing the traffic through encrypted channels. This means that even if the data you’ll be transferring with the help of this protocol is not encrypted, the channel via which it is transmitted will have encryption.
The connections of SSH are generated by its client. Thus, the two extremes of the tunnel through which data flows contain specified ports.
Therefore, you can now probably understand that SSH tunnels act as primary measures to subvert content filters that governments of various countries conduct. So, if you cannot access Torrents or YouTube due to government regulations, then using SSH can help you use those servers. However, that remote server has to allow outgoing connections for a VPN to work. And, even if firewalls block protocols, say for downloading movies, SSH can get past that wall. It can do so wrapping and disguising itself as that protocol the firewall allows.
Who are using VPNs?
Many people prefer using VPNs for the numerous benefits it tags along. Here are some categories of people whom VPN can help extensively.
Even though you are downloading legally or, maybe, illegally, you certainly do not want to catch the attention of a company because of using some applications on your PC. There are even worse possibilities like paying huge fines or ending up in law courts.
Numerous services are available that offer false security promises without actually providing any protection. That’s why VPNs are the most preferred option for downloaders as they effectively encrypt IP addresses making the downloader virtually untraceable.
Scholars and employees
As you already know, if you use your company’s private server with an open Wi-Fi hotspot, the chances of Wi-Fi spoofing are huge. Same goes for workers and students using unsecured networks as it can bring their jobs or grades at colossal stake. VPN can help in this regard by securing their works as well as bypassing censorship and filters that many workplaces and educational institutions employ. Therefore, VPN assists in browsing anonymously during work or while on campus.
Regardless of the internet needs or your profession, security and privacy is something that everyone seeks. VPN can provide you with that. Consequently, you can:
- Avoid the chances of hacking your network by malware, identity data thieves, and neighbors who are unwilling to pay their Wi-Fi or internet charges!
- Achieve secure connection by encrypting it and keeping it private
- Protect financial, personal, and other sensitive data from those online prying eyes
Therefore, to keep your neighbors away from using your internet and downloading viruses in the process, a VPN can help. Also, you will be uncomfortable with others seeing your online activities or personal information. In any case, Virtual Private Network is a savior!
Internet usages during abroad visits become frustrating because of reasons like language barriers, government censorships, and time differences. However, having a VPN subscription will eliminate those hurdles allowing access to all websites at the desired speed and language.
It is always better to use paid VPN services rather than those that come with free offers.
Many internet users carefully follow this because free VPNs often deliver ads and are, thus, less reliable in comparison to paid services. Even though it is impossible to achieve 100% security while using the internet, good VPN services can make the digital world more secure than it is otherwise.