Table of Contents
What is a VPN?
A VPN is a method used to add security and privacy to private and public networks, like WiFi Hotspots and the Internet. VPNs are most often used by corporations to protect sensitive data. However, using a personal VPN is increasingly becoming more popular as more interactions that were previously face-to-face transition to the Internet.
Privacy is increased with a VPN because the user’s initial IP address is replaced with one from the VPN provider. This method allows subscribers to attain an IP address from any gateway city the VPN service provides. For instance, you may live in San Francisco, but with a VPN, you can appear to live in Amsterdam, New York, or any number of gateway cities.
You really should be using a VPN, and even if you don’t think so now, at some point in the future you may consider it as important as your internet connection. Businesses use VPNs to connect remote data centers and individuals can use VPNs to get access to network resources when they’re not physically on the same LAN (local area network), or as a method for securing and encrypting their communications when they’re using an untrusted public network.
How VPN Works
How VPN works is not a terrible deal to understand, though it is. But, before that, you need to get an idea of the protocols or set of rules in laymen terms, used by VPN in providing a secure personal network:
- SSL (Secure Socket Layer): It uses a 3-way handshake method for assuring proper authentication between the client and server machines. The authentication process is based on cryptography where certificates, behaving as cryptographic keys already stored on the client and server sides, are used for initiating the connection.
- IPSec (IP Security): This protocol can work in transport mode or tunneling mode so that it can do its job of securing the VPN connection. The two modes differ in the sense that the transport mode only encrypts the Payload in the data, i.e. only the message present in the data. The tunneling mode encrypts the entire data to be transmitted.
- PPTP (Point-To-Point Transfer Protocol): It connects a user located at some remote location with a private server in a VPN network, and also uses the tunneling mode for its operations. Low maintenance and simple working make PPTP a widely adopted VPN protocol. Further credit goes to the inbuilt support provided by Microsoft Windows.
- L2TP (Layer Two Tunnelling Protocol): It facilitates the tunneling of data between two geographical sites over the VPN network, often used in combination with the IPSec protocol which further aids to the security layer of the communication.
So, you have a rough idea about the various protocols used in a VPN. We shall proceed further and see how it works. When you connect to a public network, for example, free WiFi networks at airports, you can assume that all your data is flowing through a big tunnel along with the data of other users.
So, anyone who wants to spy on you can easily sniff your data packets from the network. When VPN comes into the scene, it provides you a secret tunnel inside that big tunnel. And all your data is transformed into garbage values so that no one can recognize it.
What Does A VPN Do
A VPN does two technical results: it cloaks and encrypts your signal, making your online activity completely illegible to any eavesdroppers and it manipulates your IP address, making you appear to come from a different machine/location/country. While your VPN will slow down your connection speed by 5% – 10%, there are many good reasons to cloak your activities and change your IP address. And they are as follows:
- Access Full Netflix and Streaming Content from Outside the USA
- Download and Upload P2P Files in Privacy
- Use Public or Hotel Wi-Fi in Confidence
- Break Out of a Restrictive Network at Work/School
- Bypass the Country’s Web Censorship and Content Surveillance
- Cloak Your VOIP Phone Calls
- Use Search Engines Without Having Your Searches Logged
- Watch Home-Specific Broadcasts While You Are Traveling
- Avoid Reprisals and Traceback Because of Your Researching
- Because You Believe Privacy Is a Basic Right
What Is A Virtual Private Network?
A Virtual Private Network is a network that is constructed using public wires – usually the Internet – to connect to a private network, such as a company’s internal network. There are a number of systems that enable you to create networks using the Internet as the medium for transporting data.
A VPN secures the private network, using encryption and other security mechanisms to ensure that only authorized users can access the network and that the data cannot be intercepted. It is the most secure way to connect to the internet without risking your online identity, privacy, and financial assets.
What Is My ISP
Your ISP (Internet Service Provider) is an organization that provides internet access to its subscribers, usually at a monthly or yearly fee. Many ISPs provide additional services, such as web hosting or email. If you hear someone talking about the Internet and they mention their “provider,” they’re usually talking about their ISP.
Your ISP makes the Internet a possibility. In other words, you can have a shiny computer with a built-in modem and could have a router for networking, but without a subscription with an ISP, you won’t have a connection to the Internet.
For the typical homeowner or apartment dweller, the ISP is usually a “cable company” that, in addition, or offering a TV subscription, also offers an Internet subscription. You don’t get both for the price of one, however. You can get cable TV or just the high-speed Internet, or both.
An ISP is your gateway to the Internet and everything else you can do online. The second your connection is activated and set up, you’ll be able to send emails, go shopping, do research and more. The ISP is the link or conduit between your computer and all the other “servers” on the Internet.
You may feel like you’re talking to your mom directly through email, but in reality, it’s more “indirectly.” Your email goes from your computer to the ISP computers/servers, where it’s sent along to its destination through other servers on the network.
How To Get A VPN
The most common way people get VPNs is through a monthly service. There are a ton of these. Ultimately, you must trust the company running the VPN, because there’s no way to know what they’re doing with your data. As I said, some VPNs are improperly configured and may leak personally identifying data. Once you buy a VPN, the best way to double-check that it’s working properly is to visit ipleak.net while using the VPN.
Even though most users of VPNs are companies with remote employees, the NSA will still put you on a list if you purchased a VPN. So I recommend using something anonymously to do so, like a preloaded Visa card or Bitcoin.
Some routers are designed to work with VPNs at higher speeds than others. If you want to use a VPN at the router level, and your internet connection is less than 100 Mbps, this router will probably suffice. Otherwise, you’ll need to pay a bit more for a router.
How To Use VPN
The first thing you’ll need to do in order to use a VPN is to sign up for the service of your choice and download it. Most VPN services have three tiers depending on how long you want to commit for, and most have a money back guarantee that’ll reassure you if you aren’t completely sure whether a VPN is going to work for you. Once you’ve signed up, you’ll need to download and install the app on your Mac or PC.
Then, launch the app to get started. Once the app is open, you’ll want to choose a server to connect to. You might see a list of countries or a map.
The location of the server you connect to is then your virtual location, meaning the internet thinks that you are in that location right now. That’s why the server you choose will largely depend on what you want to use the VPN for.
If you want to connect to US Netflix you’ll need to choose a US-based server, or for BBC iPlayer you’ll need a UK-based server. Of course, it’s important to note that doing so goes against both services terms and conditions so do so at your own risk.
Once you’ve chosen which server suits you best, you’ll need to connect to it. Most VPN services have a kill switch that will terminate your connection and continue to protect your privacy if the VPN server itself gets disconnected too.