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What is a Virtual Private Network | Complete Guide

What is a Virtual Private Network

VPNs have taken the world of cybersecurity by storm. They have become one of the most popular layers of security for both companies and individuals. But even though their popularity is increasing, there is still a shroud of mystery that surrounds VPNs.

What is a VPN? What does it do? Does my company really need it? It is important to educate yourself on any software solution before installing it. To make things easier, this comprehensive guide will teach you everything you need to know about VPNs.

What is a VPN?

VPN stands for “virtual private network.” Before taking you to the website of your choice, it routes your connection through a different server. There it changes the IP address of your device and encrypts the data. Click here for more information: https://nordvpn.com/what-is-a-vpn/

Example: if a user were to connect to a server in Germany, the IP address would change simultaneously. It would trick the website into thinking that the device is located in Germany. Meanwhile, because of encryption, the ISP or internet network administrator wouldn’t even know you are connecting to that website. They would only know you’ve connected to a VPN.

That’s why using a VPN is a great way to ensure privacy when browsing the web. Connection encryption and IP masking have various benefits, including the following:

  • VPN allows the user to bypass geo-restrictions and access blocked content
  • It protects the user from public Wi-Fi threats and exploits
  • It protects the user against man-in-the-middle attacks
  • It helps to stay relatively anonymous online
  • It prevents ISP or any third-parties from keeping track of your online activities
  • Some VPNs also enable access to Tor network without using Tor browser, hence letting you visit onion websites

There are many incredible benefits to using a VPN, and many companies nowadays use it religiously. Besides the primary VPN uses, they come with many other security features as well.

Different VPN Features

Most premium VPN solutions aren’t a one-trick pony. These are the most notable features that you should have in mind when choosing a suitable VPN provider:

  • Split tunneling
  • Kill Switch
  • SmartDNS
  • Remote access

Split tunneling is an advanced VPN feature. It allows the user to control which applications should go through a VPN, and which should access the internet directly.

Kill Switch, also known as “network lock,” cuts the connection to the internet in case the VPN somehow gets disconnected. It ensures that the company or an individual doesn’t leak any sensitive data in case the connection is compromised.

SmartDNS option might seem redundant at first, but it can be beneficial for achieving maximum network speed and stability. Usually, when you try to access geo-restricted content, a VPN encrypts all data traveling to and from the website. It makes the connection much slower. SmartDNS will allow you to access blocked content without encryption. Your IP still stays hidden, and a lack of encryption makes the connection much faster. Of course, you should use this option only on secure networks and sites you trust.

Remote Access allows the user to access private networks from a remote location, for example, outside of the office. Since human error is among the leading causes of data breaches, ensuring that employees access sensitive data only through a VPN is a must.

Different VPN Security Protocols

When choosing a suitable VPN solution, checking which VPN protocols the service uses is imperative. There are many different VPN protocols, only a couple of which are safe. Most of the time, you’ll encounter the following:

  • L2TP/IPsec
  • OpenVPN
  • PPTP

L2TP/IPSec. This protocol is among the best options. It combines two high-quality protocols to utilize the best features of each one – L2TP and IPSec. L2TP creates a tunnel of encryption, while IPSec encrypts the data packets traveling through it. The combination of two is almost foolproof.

OpenVPN. OpenVPN is another secure protocol option that has become popular in recent years. It is open-source, and it’s known for being very flexible. It utilizes SSL/TLS for key exchange, creating secure point-to-point connections.

PPTP. PPTP used to be a favorite protocol within the VPN community. It has been around for a while, and it was easy to set it up on any operating system. But in recent years, it’s become a bit outdated. So, whenever possible, you should always opt for VPN solutions that use either OpenVPN or L2TP/IPsec.

Time to Get a VPN

VPNs are an amazing addition to anyone’s cybersecurity arsenal. They are reliable, secure, cost-effective, and easy-to-use. In today’s world of data breaches, hacking exploits, and a lack of privacy, it is imperative to apply supplementary solutions to maximize one’s security and privacy. And VPNs are here to help with that.