What is Virtual Private Network (VPN) and How Does it Work

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The term “virtual private network” refers to the ability to create a secure network connection while using public networks. VPNs encrypt your internet traffic and hide your true identity on the internet. Third parties will have a harder time tracking your online activities and stealing data as a result of this. The encryption is carried out in real-time.

In this article, we will be considering the following:

  • How does a virtual private network (VPN) work?
  • What are the advantages of using a Virtual Private Network?
  • Why should you utilize a virtual private network (VPN)?
  • What should a good VPN be capable of?
  • How to use a VPN to surf safely.
  • What types of VPNs are available?
  • How do I set up a virtual private network (VPN) on my computer?
  • How to set up a virtual private network (VPN) on your smartphone

How does a virtual private network (VPN) work?
A VPN masks your IP address by allowing the network to route it through a VPN host’s specially configured distant server. When you use a VPN to access the internet, the VPN server becomes the source of your data. This means that your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and other third parties will be unable to see the websites you visit or the data you transmit and receive over the internet. A VPN acts as a filter, converting all of your data into gibberish. Even if someone managed to obtain your information, it would be meaningless.

What are the advantages of using a Virtual Private Network?
A VPN connection hides your online data transmission and protects it from prying eyes. Anyone with network access and a desire to see unencrypted data can do so. Hackers and cyber thieves are unable to decode this data when using a VPN.

  • Secure encryption: An encryption key is required to read the data. In the event of a brute force attack, a computer would take millions of years to decrypt the code without one. Even on public networks, your online activities are masked with the help of a VPN.
  • Hide your Location: VPN servers simply work as proxies on the internet, allowing you to hide your location. Your exact location cannot be established since the demographic location data comes from a server in another nation. Furthermore, most VPN providers do not keep track of your activity. Some providers, on the other hand, keep track of your actions but do not share them with third parties. This means that any possible record of your user behavior will be completely erased.
  • Access to regional web material: Access to regional web content is not always available from all locations. Content on services and websites is frequently restricted to various regions of the globe. To establish your location, standard connections use local servers in the nation. This means you won’t be able to access content from your home while on the road, and you won’t be able to access overseas content from your home. With VPN location spoofing, you can change your location by connecting to a server in another country.
  • Secure data transfer: You may need to access important files on your company’s network if you operate remotely. This type of data necessitates a secure connection for security reasons. A VPN connection is frequently required to obtain access to the network. To limit the risk of data leakage, VPN services connect to private servers and use encryption methods.

Why should you utilize a virtual private network (VPN)?
When you connect to the internet, your ISP normally sets up your connection. It uses your IP address to track you. Your network traffic is routed through the servers of your Internet service provider, which can log and dissect it.

Although your Internet service provider may appear to be trustworthy, it may disclose your surfing history with advertising, the police or government, and/or other third parties. Cybercriminals might also target Internet service providers: Your personal and confidential information may be compromised if they are hacked.

This is especially critical if you use public Wi-Fi networks frequently. You never know who is watching your online activities or what they might steal from you, such as passwords, personal information, financial information, or even your complete identity.

What should a good VPN be capable of?

One or more jobs should be delegated to your VPN. It’s also a good idea to keep the VPN itself secure. A comprehensive VPN solution should include the following features:

  • IP address encryption: A VPN’s main function is to disguise your IP address from your ISP and other third parties. This lets you communicate and receive information over the internet without fear of it being seen by anybody other than you and your VPN provider.
  • Protocol encryption: A VPN should also prevent you from leaving traces, such as your browsing history, search history, and cookies. Cookies’ encryption is particularly significant since it prevents third parties from having access to sensitive data such as personal information, financial information, and other website content.
  • Detect Downtime: If your VPN connection is unexpectedly terminated, your secure connection will be terminated as well. A decent VPN can identify this unexpected downtime and shut off pre-selected programs, lowering the risk of data compromise.
  • Two-factor authentication: A powerful VPN examines everyone who tries to log in using a number of login methods. For example, you may be asked to provide a password before receiving a code on your mobile device. Uninvited third parties will have a hard time accessing your encrypted connection as a result of this.

The history of virtual private networks

There has been a trend to protect and encrypt internet browser data since humans began using the internet. Back in the 1960s, the US Department of Defense was involved in research aimed at encrypting internet connection data.

The VPN’s forerunners were their efforts resulted in the invention of ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network), a packet switching network, and the Transfer Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP).

Link, internet, transport, and application were the four tiers of TCP/IP. Local networks and devices may be connected to the universal network via the internet, and this is where the risk of exposure became apparent. In 1993, a team from Columbia University and AT&T Bell Labs succeeded in developing swIPe: Software IP Encryption Protocol, which was the initial iteration of the contemporary VPN.

Wei Xu invented the IPSec network the next year, an internet security protocol that authenticates and encrypts data packets shared over the internet. Gurdeep Singh-Pall, a Microsoft employee, designed the Peer-to-Peer Tunneling Protocol in 1996. (PPTP).

VPNs were first introduced in the 1990s.
Adjacent to Singh-Pall developed PPTP as the internet grew in prominence, necessitating the development of consumer-friendly, sophisticated security measures. Anti-virus software was already successful at stopping malware and spyware from invading a computer system at the time. People and businesses, on the other hand, began to seek encryption software that would allow them to disguise their internet surfing history.

As a result, the first VPNs appeared in the early 2000s, but they were almost exclusively utilized by businesses. However, the consumer market for VPNs began to pick up after a slew of security breaches, particularly in the early 2010s.

Virtual Private Networks and their current use

The number of VPN users globally surged more than fourfold between 2016 and 2018, according to GlobalWebIndex. One in every five internet users in countries like Thailand, Indonesia, and China, where internet access is restricted and censored, uses a VPN. The percentage of VPN users in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany is around 5%, but it is growing.

The increased need for content with geographical access restrictions has been one of the greatest motivations for VPN use in recent years. For example, video streaming services like Netflix and YouTube restrict access to certain videos to specific nations. You may encrypt your IP address using modern VPNs to make it look as if you’re surfing from another country, allowing you to access this content from anywhere.

Here’s how to use a VPN to surf safely.
A VPN encrypts your browsing activity, which can only be deciphered via a key. This key is only known by your computer and the VPN, so your ISP won’t be able to tell where you’re surfing. Different VPNs employ different encryption methods, but they all follow the same three-step process:

  1. Start your VPN once you’re online. Between you and the internet, the VPN functions as a secure tunnel. This tunnel is undetectable by your ISP and other third parties.
  2. Your device is now connected to the VPN’s local network, and your IP address can be changed to one assigned by the VPN server.
  3. Because the VPN protects all of your personal data, you can now surf the internet at your leisure.

What types of VPNs are available?
There are many various types of VPNs, but you should be aware of the three most common ones:

1. VPN with SSL encryption

Not every firm employee has access to a business laptop that they can use to work from home. Many organizations encountered the challenge of not having enough equipment for their staff during the corona crisis in Spring 2020. Using a personal device (PC, laptop, tablet, or phone) is frequently used in these situations. In this instance, businesses rely on an SSL-VPN solution, which is often implemented through a dedicated hardware box.

An HTML-5-capable browser, which is used to access the company’s login page, is normally required. Browsers that support HTML-5 are available for almost every operating system. A username and password are required to gain access.

2. Site-to-site VPN

A site-to-site VPN is a private network designed to conceal private intranets and allow users of these secure networks to share resources.

If your firm has many locations, each with its own local area network (LAN) connected to the WAN, a site-to-site VPN is useful (Wide Area Network). Site-to-site VPNs are also beneficial if you have two independent intranets and wish to communicate files across them without requiring users from one intranet to access the other.

Large corporations are the primary users of site-to-site VPNs. They are difficult to set up and do not provide the same level of flexibility as SSL VPNs. They are, however, the most efficient means of ensuring communication within and between huge departments.

3. Client-to-Server VPN
It’s as if you’re using an extension cord to link your home PC to the company when you use a VPN client. Employees can use the secure connection to connect to the company network from their home office and operate as if they were in the office. A VPN client must, however, be installed and set on the computer first.

The user establishes a direct connection to the internet through his/her VPN provider rather than through his/her own ISP. This essentially cuts the VPN journey’s tunnel portion in half. Instead of creating an encryption tunnel to mask an existing internet connection, the VPN can automatically encrypt data before making it available to the user.

This is a type of VPN that is becoming more popular, and it is especially handy for suppliers of unsecured public WiFi. It protects the network connection from third-party access and compromises data encryption all the way to the supplier. It also prohibits ISPs from viewing data that is left unencrypted for whatever reason, and it circumvents any limits on the user’s internet access (for instance, if the government of that country restricts internet access).

Greater efficiency and ubiquitous access to company resources are two advantages of this form of VPN connection. If a suitable telephone system is available, the employee can, for example, use a headset to connect to the system and pretend to be at their employment. Customers of the company, for example, have no way of knowing whether the employee is working at the office or at home.

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How do I set up a virtual private network (VPN) on my computer?

It’s crucial to understand the various implementation approaches before installing a VPN:

  • VPN client

For standalone VPN clients, software must be installed. This program is set up to meet the endpoint’s requirements. When setting up a VPN, the endpoint creates an encryption tunnel by executing the VPN link and connecting to the other endpoint. In most businesses, this stage necessitates the entry of a company-issued password or the installation of an applicable certificate. The firewall can recognize that this is an authorized connection by utilizing a password or certificate. The employee then uses credentials that are familiar to him or her to identify himself.

  • Browser extensions

Most online browsers, such as Google Chrome and Firefox, support VPN plugins. Some browsers, such as Opera, even have their own VPN plugins built-in. Users may instantly switch and set up their VPN while surfing the internet with the help of extensions. The VPN connection, on the other hand, is only valid for information shared in this browser. Other browsers and internet activities outside of the browser (for example, online games) are not secured by the VPN.

While browser extensions aren’t as extensive as VPN software, they may be a good solution for casual internet users looking for an extra layer of protection. They have, however, been shown to be more vulnerable to security breaches. Data harvesters may try to utilize fraudulent VPN extensions, thus users should use a respected extension. The acquisition of personal data, such as what marketing strategists do to construct a personal profile of you, is known as data harvesting. The advertising content is therefore targeted to you specifically.

  • Router VPN

If numerous devices are linked to the same internet connection, it may be more convenient to set up the VPN on the router rather than on each device separately. If you want to safeguard devices with an internet connection that are difficult to configure, such as smart TVs, a router VPN is extremely handy. They can also assist you in gaining access to geo-restricted content via your home entertainment systems.

A router VPN is simple to set up, provides constant protection and privacy, and protects your network from being hacked when unsafe devices connect. If your router does not have its own user interface, however, it may be more difficult to manage. This can lead to incoming connections being blocked.

  • Company VPN

A company VPN is a one-of-a-kind solution that needs individual setup and technical assistance. The VPN is normally set up by the company’s IT department. As a user, you have no administrative control over the VPN, and your corporation logs your activity and data transfers. As a result, the organization can reduce the danger of data leaking. The fundamental benefit of a business VPN is that it provides a completely secure connection to the company’s intranet and server, even for employees who work remotely and use their own internet connection.

Can I use a VPN on my phone or other devices as well?
There are several VPN alternatives available for smartphones and other internet-connected devices. If you use your mobile device to store payment information or other personal data, or even merely to surf the internet, a VPN may be necessary. Many VPN companies also provide mobile solutions, which may be downloaded directly from Google Play or the Apple App Store in many cases.

Is a Virtual Private Network(VPN) really that safe?
It’s vital to remember that VPNs aren’t the same as anti-virus software. A VPN connection protects your IP address and encrypts your browsing history, but it does not safeguard your machine from outside intrusion. You should absolutely use anti-virus software like Kaspersky Internet Security to accomplish this. Because a VPN will not protect you from Trojans, viruses, bots, or other malware on its own.

Regardless of whether you use a VPN or not, once the malware has gained access to your device, it can steal or harm your data. To achieve optimal protection, you should use a VPN in conjunction with a robust anti-virus package.

Choosing a safe Virtual Private Network(VPN) provider
It’s also critical that you select a VPN provider you can rely on. Your ISP will not be able to view your internet traffic, but your VPN provider will. If your VPN service is hacked, you are as well. As a result, it’s critical that you choose a reputable VPN provider to secure both the privacy and security of your online activity.

How to set up a virtual private network (VPN) on your smartphone
VPN connections are also available for Android and iPhone cellphones, as previously indicated. Smartphone VPN services, on the other hand, are simple to use and typically offer the following features:

1. The iOS App Store or Google Play Store normally only downloads one app during the installation process. Although there are free VPN services available, when it comes to security, it’s best to go with a professional provider.
2. Because the default settings are largely geared for the normal smartphone user, the setup is incredibly user-friendly. Simply log in with your username and password. The majority of programs will next walk you through the key features of VPN services.
3. For many VPN apps, turning on the VPN is as simple as turning on the light. The option is most likely to be found on the home screen.

4. If you wish to spoof your location, you’ll normally have to swap servers manually. Simply choose the desired country from the drop-down menu.
5. Advanced configuration is offered for users that require a higher level of data security. You can also choose from a variety of encryption techniques depending on your VPN. Your app may also provide diagnostics and other features. Learn about these characteristics before you enroll to pick the best VPN for your needs.
6. All you have to do now is activate the VPN connection through the app to start surfing the internet safely.

But keep in mind that a VPN is only as safe as its provider’s data usage and storage practices. Keep in mind that the VPN service sends your information to their servers, which then connect to the internet on your behalf. If they keep data logs, make sure it’s apparent why they’re keeping them. Serious VPN companies usually prioritize your privacy over all else. As a result, you should choose a reputable supplier like Kaspersky Secure Connection.

Keep in mind that only data sent over the internet is encrypted. Nothing will be transmitted over the internet that does not employ a cellular or Wi-Fi connection. As a result, your regular voice calls or text will not be encrypted by your VPN.

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CONCLUSION

A virtual private network (VPN) creates a secure connection between you and the internet. All of your data traffic is routed over an encrypted virtual tunnel via the VPN. When you access the internet, this masks your IP address, making its location invisible to everyone. External attacks are also protected by a VPN connection. That’s because the data in the encrypted tunnel can only be accessed by you – and no one else can because they don’t have the key. You can access regionally prohibited content from anywhere in the world using a VPN. Many streaming services are not available in all countries. You can still use the VPN to gain access to them.

Many virtual private network (VPN) connections for smartphones are now available, allowing users to keep their mobile data traffic private. The Google Play Store and the iOS App Store are both good places to look for certified providers. However, keep in mind that utilizing a VPN merely anonymizes and protects your internet data traffic. Hacker attacks, Trojans, viruses, and other malware are not protected by a VPN connection. As a result, you should use a third-party anti-virus program.

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