AI Cybersecurity

What is a VPN? Why do I need it?

What is a VPN? Why do I need it?

What is a VPN?

VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a way to establish a secure network connection over any network. By using virtual private networks, you can disguise your online identity and encrypt your internet traffic. By using this method, third parties will be unable to track your online activities and steal your personal information. This kind of encryption takes place in real time.

Source: YouTube

Why do I need a VPN?

Cybersecurity threats are ever shifting and evolving, and these threats are not limited to large organizations, and startups. Every individual is also at significant risk.

Source: YouTube

If the answer to any of the following questions is yes, then you need a Virtual Private Network.

Check email?
Do Banking / any financial transaction?
Share personal information? (Phone, physical address.. etc)
Store medical information / apps?
Anything to do with your digital life?

Virtual Private Network is one of the ways you can protect and encrypt your data. Please note this is not the one stop solution, but the easiest one to implement. It reduces your risk for a cybersecurity event significantly.

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You usually connect to the internet through your Internet Service Provider. It tracks you via an IP address. Internet traffic is routed through your ISP’s servers, which can log and display everything you do online.

This basically stitches all your digital activity to see where you shop? How much do you spend? Which online stores do you visit? How often do you do online banking?

You may believe your Internet Service Provider (Spectrum, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, etc) is trustworthy, but it may share your browsing history with advertisers, the government, or others.

Your personal and private data can also be compromised if your ISP is hacked by cyber criminals.

If you regularly connect to public / insecure Wi-Fi networks, this is particularly important. It is always possible that someone is monitoring your internet traffic. They may steal passwords, personal data, payment information, or even your whole identity.

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How does a Virtual Private Network work?

Using a Virtual Private Network, your IP address is redirected through a specially configured remote server. As a result, when you surf online with a VPN, the Virtual Private Network server becomes the source of your data.

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and other third parties cannot see what websites you visit or what data you send and receive online. VPNs work like filters that make all your data unreadable. In the event your data was stolen, hackers, wont be able to decipher your data.

What are the benefits of a Virtual Private Network connection?

Secure encryption: To read the data, you need an encryption key . Without one, a computer would take millions of years to decipher the code in the event of a brute force attack. 

Disguising your whereabouts : Virtual Private Network servers essentially act as your proxies on the internet. Your actual location cannot be determined since the demographic location data comes from a server in another country. Most VPN services also do not keep logs of their users’ activities. On the other hand, some providers track your behavior, but don’t divulge it to third parties. Therefore, any records of your behavior remain hidden from third parties.

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Access to regional content : Regional web content is not always accessible from everywhere. Certain parts of the world are only able to access certain types of services and websites. Standard connections use local servers in the country to determine your location. This means that you cannot access content at home while traveling, or you cannot access international content from home. By using Virtual Private Network’s location spoofing, you can “change” your location by connecting to a server located in another country.

Secure data transfer: It is possible that you will need to access important files on the network of your company if you work remotely. For security reasons, this information should be accessed securely. A Virtual Private Network connection is often required to gain access to the network. In order to prevent data leaks, VPN services connect to private servers and use encryption methods.

What should a good VPN do?

  • Encryption of your IP address: VPNs work by hiding your IP address from your ISP and other third parties. This way, you can send and receive information online without the risk of anyone else seeing it but you and your Virtual Private Network provider.
  • Encryption of protocols: A VPN should also prevent you from leaving traces, such as web history, search history and cookies. Cookie encryption is important because it prevents third parties from gaining access to confidential information, such as financial information and other content on websites.
  • Kill switch: You will lose your secure connection if your Virtual private Network connection is suddenly interrupted. This sudden downtime can be detected by a VPN, which will terminate preselected programs, reducing the possibility of data compromise.
  • Two-factor authentication: A strong Virtual private Network verifies everyone who logs on using different authentication methods. You might be prompted to enter a password, after which a code is sent to your mobile device. The secure connection is thus difficult to access by uninvited third parties.

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Here’s how to surf securely with a VPN

VPNs encrypt your surfing habits, and only a key can be used to decrypt them. You cannot be tracked by your ISP since only your computer and Virtual private Network know this key. Various VPNs encrypt data differently, but they usually follow three steps:

  1. As soon as you are online, start your VPN. This creates a secure connection between you and the internet. This leaves all third parties out.  
  2. The device is now on the local network of the Virtual private Network, and its IP address can be changed to one assigned by the VPN server.
  3. The VPN protects all your personal information, so you can now browse the web at will.

What are the different kinds of VPNs?

Virtual private Network’s come in many varieties, but you should be aware of the three main types:

SSL VPN

Employees often do not have access to a company laptop so they can work from home. There was a shortage of equipment for many companies during the Corona crisis in Spring 2020. When this occurs, private devices (PC, laptop, tablet, mobile phone) often have to be used. In this case, companies use SSL-VPN solutions, which are implemented through a hardware box.

Site-to-site VPN

Site-to-site VPNs allow users to connect to one another’s secure networks by hiding private intranets.

Site-to-site VPNs are mostly used by large businesses. The implementation is complex, and the flexibility is not as great as with SSL Virtual private Network’s. They are, however, the most effective means of ensuring communication within and between large departments.

Client-to-Server VPN

A VPN client can be compared to connecting an extension cable from your home PC to the company. From their home office, employees can connect to the company network via the secure connection and act as if they were in the office. A Virtual private Network client must be installed and configured on the computer first.

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How do I install a VPN on my computer?

Before installing a Virtual private Network, it is important to be familiar with the different implementation methods:

VPN client

Standalone Virtual private Network clients require installation of software. It is configured to meet the requirements of the endpoint. The endpoint establishes the encryption tunnel by executing the VPN link and connecting to the other endpoint. 

Browser extensions

You can add VPN extensions to most web browsers, such as Google Chrome and Firefox. Some browsers, such as Opera, even offer their own Virtual private Network extensions. Using extensions, users can quickly switch to and configure their VPN while surfing the web. A VPN connection, however, is only valid for information exchanged within this browser. Internet use outside the browser (e.g. online games) cannot be encrypted by the VPN.

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Router VPN

When several devices are connected to the same internet connection, implementing the VPN directly on the router may be easier than installing a separate Virtual private Network on each device. VPN routers are a good choice if you need to protect devices connected to the internet but difficult to configure, such as smart TVs. In fact, they can help you access geo-restricted content using your home entertainment system.

Company VPN

Company VPNs require individualized setup and technical support. This is typically handled by the company’s IT department. 

Can I also use a Virtual private Network on my smartphone or other devices?

There are several VPN options available for smartphones and other internet-connected devices. Even if you use your mobile device only to surf the internet, a VPN can be essential if you store payment information or other personal data on it. Most VPN providers also offer mobile solutions, some of which can be downloaded directly from Google Play or the Apple App Store.

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How do I get a VPN?

Here are some VPN’s for your personal use and you can use them on your personal devices. Here are some VPN’s we recommend.

Source: YouTube

Nord VPN

NordVPN is a die-hard heavy hitter. It costs more than Surfshark but less than Express, has an enormous network that’s constantly getting faster and more secure and is easily the most reliable service.

SurfShark VPN

Surfshark, with its lower price, is a close second among our picks, thanks to its impressive performance and unlimited devices.

Express VPN

ExpressVPN received a CNET Editors’ Choice Award for best overall VPN. They evaluated VPNs based on their overall performance in three main categories: speed, security and price. Express isn’t the cheapest, but it’s among the fastest and, so far, is the most secure.

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Conclusion

Connecting to the Internet using a Virtual private Network establishes a secure connection. With a VPN, all your data traffic is routed through an encrypted virtual tunnel. When you use the internet, your IP address is concealed, making your location invisible to everyone. Additionally, a VPN connection protects you from external threats. Since only you have access to the encrypted tunnel – and nobody else does because they do not have the key – only you can see the data. By using a VPN, you can access content restricted to a particular region from anywhere in the world. Many streaming platforms aren’t available in all countries. Using a Virtual private Network, you can still access them.

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