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The benefits of virtual private networks (VPNs)



Read almost any web-based data page or magazine, and you'll see that a three-letter acronym is touted as a good thing for Internet security – VPN or Virtual Private Network . In this episode of the network and security series, we talk about some of the benefits and costs of using a VPN.

If you have missed any of our other articles in the network and security series, there is a quick list

An easy way to describe a VPN is as an encrypted tunnel that routes data over the Internet between a device ( a MacBook, an iPhone, an iPad Pro …) and a private network like those run by most businesses. By using a VPN to connect to a corporate network, the user of the user appears to be only another user on that network, with access to servers, printers, and services provided by the network.

VPN Connectivity Overview by Ludovic.ferre, CC BY-SA 4.0

Originally, VPN technology was used by external users and departments to access corporate applications and resources (see image above). VPNs are created by establishing a virtual point-to-point connection, either through dedicated circuits (such as from regional offices to headquarters) or through tunnel protocols over the Internet.

VPNs are still used for corporate purposes, but for most informal users a virtual private network can provide an additional layer of security for Internet users (especially on public Wi-Fi networks), additional privacy and anonymity.

  Image via PrivacyCanada.net

Image via PrivacyCanada.net

] Benefits of a VPN

Encryption

Although the encryption level offered by a VPN varies from vendor, your data is safe from outside Snooping, thanks to their coding in different ways. Wherever you surf the web from – home, office, or public Wi-Fi hotspot encryption, data streams become unread by your ISP, hackers, or government officials.

Bypassing Geoblocks

International travelers Hope to access video content while they are not at home, can often be without luck thanks to geoblocking . As an example, let's say you visit the United States from the UK and want to stream favorite shows. Without VPN, the BBC will see that you are trying to access the streaming video from the US and you will be blocked.

VPN permissions allow you to change your IP address, depending on the location of the VPN server, so our British friend may look to the BBC to connect to the Internet from the UK, even though he actually lounges on a Florida beach.

For those who are unlucky enough to live in censorship-heavy countries that block websites in free countries, VPNs provide a way to bypass the censorship.

Save money on purchases

You know the ability to change the IP address we mentioned above? It can be helpful if you are looking for ways to buy products, flights or hotels.

E-commerce and travel sites often show different prices to customers from different countries. Booking a flight from the US to Asia, for example, may be cheaper if you access an Asian airline's website from what appears to be Thailand instead of Tennessee.

If you want to conduct extensive pricing research, it is best to find VPNs with servers in a large number of countries.

VPNs provide reasonable security

Premium VPN services can not only block websites worldwide, but they keep the connection anonymous and encrypted. VPNs for iOS often have programs that are easy to set up and set up, and on Macs, the connection can either be configured through an app, a website, or a simple network configuration.

There are even free VPN services, but they are often hit by pop-up ads, low speeds, or lack of security. In our next Network and Security series post, we will provide a list of VPNs from free to "affordable" along with the best features of each.

Disadvantages of VPNs

So you think a VPN can be just the thing for you. Well, before signing up for a service, make sure you know which negatives can ruin your day.

Slow Connection Speeds

Data encryption keeps your connection safe while using a VPN, but with some VPN providers that encryption can actually lower the connection significantly. Especially in situations where you want to stream video, a slow connection can make you wish you had never signed up! Make sure your VPN provider offers high speeds without compromising your security.

Some VPN providers offer free trial versions of their services and it is a good idea to take the time to try out your specific uses with more than one vendor.

VPN connections can release and reveal your real IP address

Reliable VPN services do not release connections often, but when it does, it can reveal your real IP address and the coveted anonymity suddenly disappears.

  VPN kill switches protect the connection from accidental exposure. Picture via VPNMentor.

VPN door switches protect your connection from accidental exposure. Picture via VPNMentor.

To protect yourself from occasional connection failures, make sure your VPN provider offers a kill switch. A kill switch connects you directly from the Internet if a server loses your connection, which prevents your IP address from being revealed.

VPN Blockers

Since streaming services do not want those outside their "service area" to be able to exploit the programming, they have worked hard on VPN blockers. Netflix and Hulu are among the two major streaming services that work to block VPN users and take away one of the great benefits of using a VPN during their journey.

However, some VPN providers continue the good fight and make sure their customers can get through VPN blockers.

Difficult configuration

While configuring a VPN service device can be drop-dead simple when using an iOS app that only requests permission to install a config file, it can be much more difficult in cases where you are asked to go through a manual process to connect.

If you are not properly configured to connect to VPN, you may experience IP and DNS "leaks" that make your private data vulnerable to online threats. To ensure that you have a good VPN experience, make sure your VPN provider offers a simple and easy-to-use connection process.


Are you using a VPN?

I am often asked this question when I expand the virtues of VPNs. While I am not using a VPN to bypass geoblocks, I like to make my instruction anonymous through encryption and by blocking my IP address. When I am on a public Wi-Fi network, I know that my browsing and any transactions I make are hidden from any potential hackers on the network. I am currently using a free and easy-to-use VPN service that I will discuss in the next article.


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