The internet has grown and evolved since its origin. It has served a number of purposes and has come a long way since it’s infancy in the Department of Defense. Not to ignore the fact that is has completely changed the way society currently functions and the lives of the individuals. There have been a number of setbacks, however, that have risen with the expansion of the internet. With the way the internet functions, and considering the number of people that it serves and connects, it is almost impossible to fully regulate the internet and ensure privacy and security for the users. With the blissful benefits of the internet have also come the downfalls of hacking, malware, viruses, etc. There have been a number of solutions to protecting the hardware from these types of problems, but there have been few solutions that secure the actual network and the information that is transferred and shared within that network. That was until the VPN came onto the scene and created a way for users to maneuver through the internet in a private and secured space.
A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a network that allows people in different locations to connect through the internet privately and securely. VPNs originated to help larger companies and organizations to connect their different offices in an order to share and transfer information without risking compromising the data. These businesses probably had no idea that this type of service would go on to serve a multitude of purposes and different types of users. Today, VPNs still serve the big businesses and organizations of the world as well as the small end-users.
A VPN serves a number of great purposes:
- It hides your internet activity from your service provider or ruling institution;
- It allows you to bypass any type of censorship that might be put in place on your network;
- You can hide or manipulate your geographical location in order to access information;
- It provides a layer of protection against hackers and internet threats;
- It also allows you to download and transfer information safely and securely.
The good news is that the VPN is no longer limited to the big businesses of the world. For a small fee, you can purchase a VPN service that allows you to access your own private secured network. Just remember that this is in addition to your internet service. You will first connect to your regular internet service through your internet service provider (ISP). Then you would connect to the VPN server through an encrypted connection or tunneling system. This requires a level of authentication so that the VPN can recognize the user and give them access to the server. The VPN will then ensure that the data that is transferred is not traceable by anyone other than you and the VPN server. The data is encrypted and therefore ‘unreadable’ by your ISP. The websites you visit and the information you exchange is routed through the VPN rather than the ISP. The only thing that the ISP can see is that you are using a VPN server. Talk about high security!
The catch here is that even though the ISP cannot track where you are and what you are doing, the VPN can. Additionally, you risk a slower service going through the VPN since the data has to be encrypted and then decrypted in order to process. The stronger your encryption, the slower your service may become. It is adding to the transfer journey of your data which also requires a little extra juice from your service. Another factor is where you are and the location of the VPN server that you are accessing. The closer the server the connection the less of a slow-down you will see in your service connection. On the other hand, the farther the distance between you and the VPN server location, the more of a lag in service you may experience. Try to see if you can access a VPN server closer to you to avoid a serious slow down in your connection.
Using a VPN service is completely legal. It becomes more beneficial when you are in a location that uses a censorship system. For example, countries like China and Russia enforce strict censorship when it comes to using the internet and the types of websites you are allowed to access. Some of these countries do not allow access to universal platforms and websites like Facebook or even Netflix. A VPN provides you with a way to bypass the enforced censorship and allow you to access these sites and their information without being tracked through your ISP. But remember that a VPN does not necessarily make you completely anonymous. Although you may be invisible to the ISP, the VPN will know who you are what you are doing on the internet. Their main objective is privacy rather than anonymity.
VPN services come in many different shapes and sizes. They all, for the most part, serve the same basic function of allowing you to establish secured remote-access to a network. That doesn’t mean that they all function the same way with the same pros and cons. So, there are a few things to consider when looking to engage in using a VPN.
The first thing is price. Depending on the location and the type of specific services that the VPN can offer, the prices will fluctuate. Be reasonable and do your research for which VPN will be the best investment for you. Another thing to consider is the speed of the VPN network. As mentioned before, the location of your VPN server will affect the speed of your connection and the process of the encryption and decryption of the data.
Privacy may seem like a no-brainer when it comes to a VPN. However, some VPNs offer different levels and promises of privacy. The same thing goes with security. Look into what exactly the VPN can offer in means of security. Who and what can they protect your data from? This will depend on what exactly you are using your VPN for. You’ll want to look into the number of servers and connections the VPN has. Sometimes the more the better, and sometimes not so much. The more connections and servers a VPN has, the easier it is to access from almost any remote location. You’ll also want to see if they offer any type of cross-platform support and customer support in case you have any issues or questions.
You can look into VPN servers in detail and the additional products and services they may have to offer by going to their individual websites. There is a plethora of VPNs out there to choose from. A little diligence and research will help ensure that you find the right one to meet all of your needs and will have you surfing the internet safely and securely!