What is a VPN?​

Fact checked by Aberdeen Essentials – Written by Eric Chan from Best VPN Canada

When accessing the internet, you are always using an Internet Protocol address (IP). The address refers to a numerical label that is usually given to your device when connected to the internet. It can also be used to track your online activities. Therefore if you think the information on the computer or mobile phone is safe, you need to think again.

There is various software that one can use to protect their privacy from intruders. Though some antivirus has this particular feature which helps in protecting your IP address, which is not enough. You need to have VPN software installed in your device.

Virtual Private Network (VPN) masks your location, identity and even the sites your visit. Hence your information is safe and secure. In this article, we are going to talk about VPN in depth.

IP Address

An IP is location addressing and network interface identification. This is something that most internet users are not interested in. Did you know that your IP address can be used to taping into your device? That means an individual will see where you are and what you are browsing as well.  The IP address is used by companies and governments to keep tabs on the employees and the citizens.

Virtual Private Network

The Virtual Private Network allows one to connect to a private network and browser securely. This particular software works by creating an encrypted network connection which is known as a VPN tunnel. All the information you are browsing and communicating on the internet platform passes through this tunnel. There are two types of VPN addresses that you can opt for.

Remote Access VPN

The remote access VPN allows you to connect to a private network and access its services and resources remotely. The connection that you have created is between you and a private network which is controlled by you allow.  This is the best VPN for business and home users.

For example, if you are a corporate employee and on the road but want to access the files, you can use the VPN to connect to the firm private network. This allows you to access the resources and files on the network securely.

On the other hand, home users can use VPN services as well. The software allows you to bypass the regional restriction and access the blocked websites. If you are conscious about your data or information, then the VPN services can be used to enhance internet security and privacy.

Site-to-Site VPN 

It is also known as Router-to- Router VPN. This particular network is used by companies and organizations to connect offices that are not found in the same geographical location. When multiple departments are connected to the same company network, it is called Intranet-based VPN.  The communication between the two offices starts when authentication is validated between the two users.

Types of VPN protocols

There are various kinds of protocols they include

1-Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP)

This is a tunnelling protocol that is usually combined with another VPN security protocol. For example, IPsec gives you a highly secured connection network. The L2TP generates a tunnel between two L2TP connection points and the IPSec protocol. This, in turn, encrypts data and maintains a secure communication between the tunnels.

2-Secure Socket Layer (SSL) & Transport Layer Security (TLS)

The two protocols generate a VPN connection where the web browser acts as the user and client. This enables you as the user to access restricted applications rather than the entire network. Online service providers and shopping sites mostly use this particular protocol. This is because it is easier to switch to SSL by web browsers and with almost no action required from the user web browsers come integrated with SSL and TSL.

3-Secure Shell (SSH)

It generates a secure channel that allows you to transfer data or even browse in an encrypted VPN tunnel. The SSH connection is initiated by an SSH client which enables the transfer of local data to a remote server through the encrypted tunnel.

4-Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP)

This is another internet protocol which creates a channel and restricts the data packet. The VPN is used to encrypt data that is sent between users. It is the kind of protocol that has been in existence since the release of Windows. The product is also used in Linux and Mac devices to ensure your data is protected.

5-Internet Protocol Security (IPSec)

The IPSec is used to protect internet communication across an IP network. The feature protects information by verifying the session and encrypting each data packet sent during the connection. The Internet Protocol Security runs in two modes that is Tunneling mode and Transport mode.

The two modes have a part to play in protecting your information. The transport mode works by encrypting the message in the data packet. On the other hand, the tunnelling mode is responsible for encrypting the whole data packet. The amazing thing about the VPN protocol is that it can be used with other protocols to improve the security system.

6-OpenVPN 

It is an open-source Virtual Private Network that is mostly used to create Point-to-Point and Site-to-Site connections. The VPN uses traditional security protocol based on TLS and SSL protocol.

VPN System Classification

The VPN can be classified into various sections, they include

  • The type of topology of connection
  • The level of security
  • The number of simultaneous connections
  • The tunnel termination point location and the tunneling protocol used to tunnel the traffic
  • The OSI layer used for the connection.

VPN Security Mechanisms

VPN does not make your internet connection completely anonymous. However, the network increases security when browsing or access important files online. This, in turn, prevents other users from accessing the data or information despite being in the same network. The VPN provides a security model. This entails Sender authentication which prevents unauthorized users from accessing the VPN.

There is confidentiality when using the VPN, even when the network traffic has been sniffed at the packet level. Hence the third party will not see or read the encrypted data and even not the actual message. There is message integrity which allows you to detect any instances of tampering that may occur during the transmission.

VPN Services

VPN on Mobiles and Routers

Virtual Private Network is also used on mobile devices and routers as well. This is because the information is critical even on these devices apart from the computer.   We are going to look at how the network works on these devices.

VPNs on Handsets

The mobile virtual private network is found on the device settings. The endpoint of the VPN is not fixed to a single IP address; rather, it roams on various networks. This includes networks such as data networks from cellular or between multiple Wi-Fi access points. The particular process is done without dropping the secure VPN session or losing application sessions as well.

The mobile VPN is usually used in public safety, in which the police access this information by using a computer-assisted dispatch.   On the other hand, they can use criminal databases as well.

VPN on Routers

Routers came as a way of improving internet connectivity. Most individuals who used the product before complained about data security which saw the firms installing the VPN applications.

This served as additional data security and even encrypts the information. This means authorized users would not access the connection let allowing one read the encrypted information. This is because data is transmitted from one connection to the other using cryptographic techniques.

Most of the home users have the VPN installed devices as a way of protecting their mobile devices, computers, smart TVs from illegal access. These are devices that are not supported by native VPN clients.

The routers on the market today have an in-built VPN. The open-source firmware used on the routers includes OpenWRT, Tomato and DD-WRT. The firmware supports additional protocols such as OpenVPN.

The installation of the virtual private network services requires skilled personnel to ensure the installation is done correctly. If the application is not installed in the right manner, the network becomes vulnerable. Plus the performance of the network depends on the Internet Service provider (ISP) as well.

VPN and Gaming

The gaming industry has also taken a VPN to be a critical part of improving the consumer’s experience. This day games have moved from the normal disks and programs to online platforms. Instead of playing with a machine, you can meet other users online and play in real-time. This has made gaming more interesting and adventurous.

The sites are usually protected by your password and user name, which is unique to you. However, your account can be hacked into if the internet you are using is not secure. Plus the Internet Service Providers can track the sites you are visiting.

Having a VPN helps to keep your information secure, and tracking will be impossible. If you are in the gaming industry, then it is time you get a Virtual Private Network.

How to Use a VPN

Online security is essential whether you are running on a VPN network or not. However, you must have the software installed on your device. This prevents other websites or users from accessing your location. To do this, you need to configure your browser to block the location request that you get from other sites.

At times you might find yourself allowing a website to access your location. Once you have clicked the button, there is no turning back. To be on the safe side, download a browser extension application.  The app provides a false location on the sites that request this information.

The other alternative that one can use is to avoid using the ISP’s DNS servers. This is because your location is usually tracked through the DNS request.   Therefore switch the DNS entries in the network you are using and configure it to OpenDNS.  On the other hand, you can sign up for a VPN service which filters your DNS request through its servers.

How to Test if the VPN is Working?

This is a simple process that takes only a few minutes of your time. To check for this run a Google search for “what is my IP”. Once you have done this at the top of the search, you will see your public IP or current external address. If their address is your actual address, it means that the VPN is not working.

Ensure you get a VPN service provider that is legit. Other websites help you in determining if the VPN is working or not. All you need to do is visit the site and request this information.

The Difference Between Free and Paid VPN 

There are two kinds of VPN that one can opt which are paid and free VPN. A VPN is supposed to give you reliability, customer support, anonymity, security and speed. These are the things we are going to look into and show you how the two VPN work.

  • Customer support: This is an essential feature that a VPN service provider, must-have. Good customer support ensures that the VPN is working according to your needs. Plus for the business to be successful, customer interaction is mandatory.

For the free VPN, there is no customer support, and once you have it installed. Therefore you are on your own. At times when there is an issue, you will have to wait for months before the support can contact you. This interferes with your privacy and security.

When it comes to a paid VPN service provider you as assured of reliable customer support, this means whenever you have a problem about the software you can reach the team and get the issue resolved within minutes. Hence, your connection will be secure.

  • Security: Most of the VPN‘s available on the market do not offer 100% data security as they claim. The providers use PPTO VPN, which is not one of the best protocols for your network. On the other hand, the paid VPN‘s use various protocols to ensure the network is secure and also helps in tunnel connection. If you want to have the best security protocols, then we suggest you use the paid VPN‘s
  • Several servers: This is a critical feature that determines your security and connectivity as well. It has several servers a VPN has in operation allow one to connect and access the internet. These are the things that host you online and if the VPN.

Virtual Private Network allows you to connect to various serves and still be secure.  If that is not the case, then you will not connect remotely from any location. Hence, you must check the number of servers that a VPN allows you to connect to.

To be safe side, pick a VPN provider that has a robust portfolio of servers in different locations in the world. The best network for you is the paid VPN. This is because free VPN have limited access to serves.

  • Reliability: The best reliable network is the paid VPN, unlike the free VPN. It is because the free serves are not usually updated and always stretched to the limit. When there are lapses in the network connection, you are at risk of cyber-attacks among other security risks. You need a network connection that is reliable and ready when you want to use it. This is why we recommended that you get a paid VPN to have a secure connection and reliable.
  • Speed: This is something you cannot compromise on. In the world, today, internet speed is what determines the amount of data that you will use. A paid VPN provides you with speed required and still have a secure tunnel. Compared to the free VPN, this takes time for one to connect to a network. Once you are connected, the internet speed is slow, which interferes with your online business or browsing.
  • Anonymity: your browser history and information must be kept secret. This means the governments or other organizations should not get wind of it. The best way to ensure anonymity is through paid VPN service providers.  Though, most individuals would opt for free VPN just to cut cost. However, if you know the value of your information, then you will not see any problem parting with a few coins.

On the other hand, the paid VPN will not offer you the security you think it could. This is because payment is made through credit cards or billing address which means the information cannot be traced back to you. If that is so, then, the VPN is not secure.

This has seen the various VPN providers moving to cryptocurrencies. It ensures that once you have paid for their services, the information will not be traced back to you. Therefore when looking for a VPN provider that offers their services to you check the payment method. If it requires you to use your credit card Do Not purchase it.

Benefits of VPNs

Here are the benefits of using a VPN service provider

  • Better performance: In the past VPN were slow and lost connections most of the time. However, with the advancement in technology has made it possible for the VPN to have an enhanced speed.  This means you have a high performing internet connection and even browser easily. It is even better than the proxy network which was used in the past.
  • Remote access to your network: This particular feature allows you to connect and access the internet from anywhere in the world. Regardless of the location, you are in. You can access your files, documents and even send emails. You can do this without worrying about the message or files being intercepted.   Plus your data is on a closed network that you are the one who knows the password, which improves security.
  • Bypass internet filters: The bypass helps you to access restricted internet. More so in the countries where the internet users are restricted from access certain sites. For example, in China, users are restricted from visiting certain sites. This is done to prevent the users from spreading rumours about the local government on social media and other websites. The VPN helps you to bypass the country’s restriction and browse freely. The network can also be used to pass the geo-restriction and improve your internet experience.
  • Online anonymity: It is like a protective cloth which permits you to access the internet without being detected. If you need to browse on various websites without worrying who is watching, a VPN will serve the purpose.
  • Security: Information and data are critical in the world today. You need to send files and messages securely more so if you are in the business world. You would not want your rivals getting wind of the next product or service you bring to the table. Therefore you must have the VPN installed to ensure data is encrypted. This prevents hackers from accessing information.
  • Change your IP address and the server location: This particular feature enhances anonymity and security. The VPN changes the location of your IP address placed you in any part of the world. For example, you might be browsing from India and change the address to Canada or Japan; you name it.  Plus there are certain websites that allow users from a particular nation to access it. It means you can change your IP address to the country’s address and access the site comfortably.
  • Share files in your network: If you have a firm and need your team members to send and receive files faster and securely. VPN is the best for your business since the members can send the documents faster and effectively.

When using the network, you ensure the information you are sending will not fall in the wrong hands.  Highly and classified documents remain safe from hackers and other competing firms in your line of work.