What Is A Virtual Private Network (VPN)

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Nowadays it has become quite important to learn more about the topic of cyber security and the traces we leave behind while surfing the Internet. With the recent data scandals and the recurring threats of ruining network neutrality, it gets difficult to remain safe and sound while browsing, at least without taking some measures as precautions. While one can never be completely protected from all the perils there are in the open web like different types of malware, spoofers or hackers, something all of us can do to get a little extra security is to use a VPN. The term stands for Virtual Private Network and has gained more and more popularity in the recent years, even though a relatively small part of the human population is using it.

 

What Does a VPN Do?

At its core, a VPN is a group of computers that are connected together over a public network. It is not required for the computers to be physically close to each other in order to form a virtual private network, only access to the Internet is needed. This type of network creates a virtual shielded tunnel point-to-point connection for the traffic between the user and the server. One of the main advantages of Virtual Private Networks is that they encrypt the data that is being sent or received when using your Internet connection. What this means is that the communication is secured from eavesdropping or potential attackers in general. The goal is that only authorized users are able to access the network and its resources.

 

How Can You Benefit from It?

Virtual Private Networks are the perfect solution for many organizations and businesses as a way to reduce costs of remote network accessing. Due to the fact that remote access is now possible, it is a viable option for many employees that have to work from home or in a different country. It can also be used as a great security improvement of private wireless networks in many corporations. Staying anonymous in the open web is no longer an impossible task. When using a VPN, your real IP address remains hidden because you are using a fake one and your actual location will remain a secret to others. Hiding one’s identity is a valuable skill, especially nowadays when the abuse of personal information is unfortunately of frequent occurrence.

As a VPN hides the online activity of the user, it can be used to evade geographical restrictions. For example, content that is blocked in one country and is accessible in another can be viewed with the help of Virtual Private Network use. Since there are multiple VPN providers all over the world, choosing one with servers in the appropriate country (that is more liberating in terms of content restrictions) is not a very hard task. They can also be used when transferring important and private files online.

Since a Virtual Private Network guarantees encryption of the transmitted data, the traffic and the sent data remain secure against attackers. This is very useful when dealing with financial matters or online payments that require the exchange of sensitive information, e.g. credit card information. Another nice feature of VPN’s is that they can provide protection against the various types of adware that flood the Internet. Seeing less advertising can be quite the relief not only from a personal point of view, but also for security, as ads are often links to potentially dangerous websites or malware.

 

Possible Drawbacks

Despite their many advantages, there are some potential shortcomings that need to be considered when it comes to the usage of a Virtual Private Network. For the VPN to really do its work as planned, extensive knowledge about networking and security is required. Also, comprehensive planning in advance and special configuration is needed to ensure the system will run properly and without flaws. Unfortunately, one has to be cautious of scams too. Many of these types of applications have proven to create holes in the security instead of upgrading it.

There have been cases of VPN providers leaking personal data and revealing the real IP addresses of their users, so one should always look for history of good performance and support when searching for a quality Virtual Private Network provider. One should also research carefully the type of VPN product that is needed before making their final choice. A lot of technical issues can be caused due to incompatibility with technological standards.

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