A virtual private network (VPN) is a technological service that allows you to privately access the internet by creating an encrypted connection over less secure networks by channeling your connections through secure tunnels and servers. Malicious people or companies may have an interest in your data, browsing history or account credentials. Therefore, when browsing the web over free Wi-Fi connections, it is important that you protect your privacy using VPN. Enterprises also use VPN services to keep their network traffic confidential and safe from external interference.
VPN can be used for internet protection as it shields your data from snoopers when using public Wi-Fi and to access network or region restricted sites. It connects your devices to a server using encryption technologies such as Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP) creating a secure virtual tunnel between your device and the VPN server.
The level of VPN security depends on the type of Security Protocol used. To guarantee your internet safety, consider using commercial VPN service providers over Free VPN service providers who, at times snoop on your traffic or fail to encrypt your access.
Importance of VPN Over Other Forms Of Protection
There are many applications for internet security. Most web browsers have encryption features such as the Incognito mode that allows you to browse the web anonymously. However, anonymous browsing may not offer sufficient protection. This is where VPN service comes in as it provides a wide range of features which include;
- Hiding your data while using any Local Area Network;
- Enabling access to Region-Restricted networks;
- Allows for remote home network access; comes in handy when you have traveled but wish to access your system over the internet;
Provides access to the business network remotely;
- VPN enables you to bypass Internet censorship, especially by the government blocking information access during a crisis.
Types of VPN
There are two types of VPN namely;
Remote access VPN; Allows you to connect to a private network and access services and modify data remotely. It is majorly used in the corporate sector where employees can access the intranet of the head office to funnel report or file sales data while traveling. You can also use it at home can also use Remote Access VPN to bypass geographically restricted websites and improve their privacy and internet security.
Site – to – site VPN; Also known as Router – to – Router VPN is where two or more systems are connected to create a network. For example, organizations with offices in different regions use Site to Site VPN to connect each of the offices by building a virtual bridge between these office networks and connects them securely via the internet. It is based on a router to router communication, where one router acts as the VPN server and the other acts as the VPN client. Authentication must be validated for data communication to take place.
Internet Protection Protocols
Different VPN protocols offer different levels of security. They define or determine how a service deals with data transmitted over a VPN network. The common types of VPN protocols are;
- Point to point tunneling protocol (PPTP); secures data by creating a tunnel that encrypts the data packet between two connection points.
- Layer 2 Tunneling protocol OR Internet protocol security (L2TP/ IPsec); used to protect internet-based communication across IP network by authenticating and encrypting each data packet sent during the communication process. IPsec creates two modes; transport mode and tunneling mode which encodes the message and the data packet to protect your data. Data packet is a unit of data transmitted over the internet.
- Secure Socket Layer and Transport Layer Security(SSL / TLS); works by creating a VPN connection where the client access is restricted to specific sections and not the whole network. Commonly used by shopping website.
- Open VPN; an open source VPN used to create point to point connections based on either SSL or TLS tools.
- Secure shell (SSH); creates an encrypted tunnel through which data packets are transferred on a local port to the remote servers.
Secure VPN Browsers
Many mobile and computer internet browsers allow for anonymous access to the internet including;
- Tor browser;
- Hola Free VPN;
- Browser VPN by Zenmate;
Tor browser is the most common of them all.
The Onion Router (TOR) is a cross-platform internet browser that lets users access the internet anonymously by blocking internet surveillance and snooping by channeling your communications through Tor networks.
Tor network is a collection of independent network servers that lets you access the internet anonymously using public Wi-Fi by creating a connection through a series of secure virtual tunnels and proxy servers. It also allows to circumvent censorship and accessed blocked content.
Proxy is a feature that lets you change your IP address through proxy servers to enable you to access geographically restricted content by bypassing the internet service protocols (ISP). However, it doesn’t encrypt your activities. A proxy server is a dedicated software that runs on computers and acts as an intermediary between two communicating devices.
A home VPN refers to an encrypted tunnel that lets you access the internet securely with the servers hosted right at your home rather than paying for VPN services remotely hosted. It is, however, more expensive compared to other paid services.
Why you need home VPN;
Home VPN servers gives you a secure tunnel to use when browsing using public Wi-Fi. It also allows you to get country-specific services from your smart device. Home VPN will enable you to access your home network from any place, giving you the ability to allow other users into the network you host at home.
Setting up a home VPN;
It is not difficult to set up VPN network as almost all of them have similar settings and processes. All you need, depending on the devices you are planning to use and the VPN services you have selected.
The following are some of the best Free VPN service available for all the OS platforms and personal computers;
- Express VPN;
Tunnelbear and SafeVPN are the easiest to set up. You only download it from the official webpage, install and select any country you wish to be virtually present, confirm the selection and wait for the connection to be complete.
Free VPN means that they offer free internet protection; without charging you.
Implications Of Using VPN For Privacy;
With the growing privacy issues, many people have resorted to using VPN to protect the integrity and confidentiality of their data. However excessive secrecy is also dangerous. Balancing between intense and regular is important. There are some complications in using VPN networks such as;
- Incompatibility with different application features such as the Chromecast or Apple TV which does not recognize encrypted data. Likewise, these home appliances gather crucial data that you shouldn’t have intercepted or passed through a third party server.
- Most VPN services are not compatible with the NETFLIX application. Netflix has developed global, regional licensing systems that detect VPN networks thus blocking them.
- VPN applications lower the internet speed since it involves the channeling of data through many hoops and loops that increase your latency which in turn reduce your upload and download speed.