Online privacy and security have become an emerging issue for everyone who surfs the Internet daily. Even the statistics from 2019 say that almost half of the population is always concerned about their digital privacy from online threats.
There are numerous online security tools, like anti-virus, VPNs, proxies, and Tor options, available. Furthermore, these tools are available in numerous forms, as some are paid and some are free. Yet, people are still confused about selecting an affordable option.
If you are concerned about privacy, you must have thought about selecting either a VPN or Tor. A VPN and Tor are both different yet private tools for security and staying incognito online. Whereas a VPN is a service with various servers to use, and Tor is a browser that offers secure online activity on the Internet,
In this task, you will learn about VPNs and Tor in detail and how they both provide security.
What is VPN?
A VPN, also known as a Virtual Private Network, A VPN normally changes or hides your IP address online for security purposes. Furthermore, it comes with several encryption methods that encode your Internet traffic to prevent any third party in between from reading or viewing your data. Initially, primarily large businesses and companies utilise VPNs, permitting all employees of the business network to browse and transfer sensitive data online privately. However, after being evolved, VPN services are also available publicly for anyone who seeks online security. A VPN helps not just to offer privacy but also assists in getting access to restricted content.
To comprehend the functions of a VPN, it is necessary to first comprehend how a VPN operates.
How does a VPN Work?
A VPN has a network of servers based on different locations globally. While making an internet request from your browser, or device, it passes through one of the selected VPN servers before arriving on the internet. Furthermore, while passing through the VPN server, your device’s IP address is automatically replaced or changed with the location of the server you are using. In addition, it also protects your identity online, yet your device will appear online from different locations, permitting you to access the resources of the local network safely.
For example, if you reside in India and want to access torrent content and websites, you have to utilise a VPN with a server outside India, like the USA or the UK. Thus, the VPN server will change your location to the USA or UK, which naturally changes your device’s IP and location, and you can securely access the content.
Moreover, to encrypt your network traffic, VPNs have advanced encryption technologies that encrypt all network traffic from your device until it reaches its final destination. This permits you to secure your online activities, and even your ISP or any government agency can check your information.
Furthermore, there are numerous advantages to using a VPN for your security, yet there are some drawbacks. But, overall, while using the VPN, the benefits always outweigh the drawbacks. Let’s discuss the pros and cons in detail to help you make informed decisions.
Advantages of a VPN
Because you have chosen to connect to a specific VPN server, your Internet connection and speed will be similar to when you are not using a VPN. Thus, using a VPN wouldn’t affect your browsing, downloading, and streaming experience.
2. Access restricted content
No matter where you are staying or which content you want to get access to on your device, Even if some content is blocked by the government in your area, you can change the server location with a VPN and access it. Moreover, you can also get the content version available in other countries.
3. Control of IP Address
A VPN secures how you’re seen on the web. Your IPS or website detects your location, IP, and online activity by detecting your devices. Thus, a VPN helps to control, hide, or change your IP address and makes it impossible for anyone to recognise you online.
4. Data Encryption
Unlike Tor, it only encrypts network data while utilising the browser. At the same time, a VPN can encrypt all the traffic coming from your computer or other device and provide extra security.
Disadvantages of VPN
1. Software failure
A VPN is software that a user installs on a computer or mobile device. For a VPN to work, it needs to run appropriately. However, VPN failures are common due to compatibility or installation issues, and they cause stability issues during installation and operations.
2. Costs Money
While some VPNs have free choices, more secure options and premium versions always come with different subscription plans. There is generally a month-to-month expense or yearly basis to secure your network.
3. VPN Provider Can See Your Activity
Some VPNs hide your activity online from everyone, but some VPN companies log your network activities from history while using the VPN. Always check the VPN policies before choosing any VPN. A VPN must have a “no log” policy.
Best 5 VPNs available
After learning all about VPNs and their functionality, you must be wondering how to choose the best one for your privacy and security on the internet. Thus, below is the list of the best five VPNs that are excellent in their category. They are all ahead in providing online security from hackers and viruses and offering excellent encryption techniques.
NordVPN is the most popular and reputed VPN service available online. NordVPN can be installed and used on all major platforms like Windows, Android, Linux, iOS, and macOS. Nord uses the most advanced encryption technologies such as OpenVPN, TCP, and IKEv2 to encrypt your network traffic securely. You can choose from 5000 fast servers from 60 locations globally to freely access the content. It could be the best option for online security.
ExpressVPN comes with a clean and easy-to-use UI for users. Available on platforms like Windows, Android, iOS, and macOS, ExpressVPN offers super-fast server connections globally. It offers the freedom to choose from thousands of servers in 94 countries and 160 cities to choose from. Your sensitive data, IP, and network activity would be secure with symmetric encryption, including the IKEv2 protocol. You can use a single ExpressVPN account for all five of your devices and secure their network connectivity.
3. SurfShark VPN
SurfShark VPN is available for most major OS devices. It uses the cypher encryption algorithm to protect your online network traffic. It likewise offers 3,200 servers situated in 65 countries. Thus, you can unblock any geo-restricted content as well. It has IKEv2, Wireguard, and OpenVPN protocols. It has a kill switch to provide an extra security layer for devices.
4. Hotspot Shield VPN
With the highest rating in the play store, Hotspot Shield offers a well-optimized UI for users. It has more than 1800 secure server locations with a maximum speed of 400 Mbps. You can securely browse, stream online, and unblock restricted content with its AES-256 bit encryption technology. You can freely download and install Hotspot Shield on devices with operating systems like Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, and Linux devices.
IPVanish offers powerful applications for Windows, Android, iOS, and macOS. It utilises military-grade protection to secure your data transmission online. With SOCKS, L2TP, PPTP, and IPSec encryption technology, your data will be secure. IPVanish has around 1500 servers located in 75 countries to choose from. By hiding your IP or identity, you can unblock geo-restricted content and browse securely. It gives them the freedom to use a single subscription account on 10 different devices and can secure the network traffic simultaneously on all of them.
What is Tor?
Tor, also known as the Onion Router, is a network anonymity service. It is a non-profit organisation that conducts research and development in the fields of privacy and security tools. The Tor Browser is a free and open-source tool available to download and install. It is available for Linux, Mac, Windows, and Android devices.
The Tor browser aims mainly to ensure the security of your identity online. While using the Tor browser, all network traffic from the browser is encrypted and secure, which also helps to keep your personal information safe.
To better understand the safety features of Tor, let’s check the functionality of the Tor browser:
How does Tor Works?
The Tor browser can mask your identity online by getting traffic from different Tor servers. As your traffic goes through these other computer servers, the network traffic or information gets encrypted, so no third party would be able to see or check your movements.
Moreover, similar to the onion player, Tor consists of numerous security layers from which your network data passes, thereby its name. Thus, as many users utilise the same server, your traffic becomes more secret. The maze creates these layers of privacy between middle relays, end relays, and bridges.
Tor’s middle relays act as routers, capable of handling the traffic en-route. Whereas the end relays are the final step relays in the process, they provide the different IP addresses or numerical IDs for you. Finally, the bridges are hidden publicly and protected by the IP blockers. All the process cycles of Tor make your data encryption possible, even in the region that has restricted all open Tor relays.
Every relay of the Tor browser has a record of the IP address of routers, so when network traffic is delivered via relay, the original IP address is changed and replaced by the end relay.
Although common users do not know or operate the relays, they are managed and run by the community of people who want them.
With such a reliable and robust security protocol, the Tor browser offers numerous advantages to users, and along with that, some disadvantages may vary in usability.
Advantages of Tor:
1. Easy to use
The Tor browser is like most browsers on computers and mobile devices. It comes with a clean and easy user interface that even a beginner can handle easily. There is nothing complex to operate and use in daily usage.
2. Free of cost
As it is open-source software, the Tor Browser can be downloaded and utilized by anyone for free. Most interestingly, the developed users can also download and install it; furthermore, they can customize and make changes to the coding as they’d like.
3. Protect Your Privacy
Tor provides a shield of security to safeguard your privacy by hiding your IP address from the sites you visit. Anyone, from businesses to bug organizations, home users, and browsing purposes, can utilize this browser to guard their data from ISPs, government agencies, and hackers.
Disadvantages of Tor
1. Slow Speed
As Tore uses various relays and traffic go through every relay, the network connection could cause trouble in loading photos and videos. Moreover, many users don’t host relays, which makes the Tor browser a bit slower.
2. Web Services Blocked
Various extensive web services block access to the Tor browser. When visited, these websites appear to you with some kind of error, like a 404. Other web services, on the other hand, allow allowance; however, CAPTCHAs are required to enter the site.
3. Legal issues
The Tor browser is accessible to anyone. If you are the exit relay and the browser is used by someone involved in criminal activity, the traffic will be directed to you. States typically keep an eye out for Tor users and take their activities into account. Essentially, being a Tor client could land you in legal trouble.
VPN or Tor: Which is best?
While both Tor and VPNs serve the same purpose of protecting your online privacy, VPNs are the best and most reliable option when used correctly. While Tor is a free browser that encrypts network requests, it is slower, does not allow access to all websites, and may result in legal action.
VPNs, on the other hand, are fast and encrypt your traffic, allowing you to access restricted websites from anywhere and change or use any server location of your choice.
When looking for the best VPN, make sure to select a compatible option and properly install it. Along with this, make sure to check the company’s “no log” policy to ensure that your online data is not stored or shared. For example, VPNs like NordVPN, ExpressVPN, Hotspot Shield, or Proton VPN don’t keep logs and guide the users through legitimate installation processes.
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