Everything that is online is not safe, especially when it is going through a public network, i.e., public Wi-Fi. When you are not using your own data and relying on other sources to browse the web, you need to worry about your security and privacy. And, if you are worried about the same, the first thing you should do is to get a trusted VPN.
A Virtual Private Network is a service, which allows you to connect to the internet while camouflaging your identity. It safeguards your privacy by establishing a secure and private connection. To know more about how a VPN works, why you should get it, and how you can choose a good VPN for your PC or mobile phone, read on.
Why is Using a VPN Important?
Before getting into the technical details, you must know why you should get a VPN for your system. This is a completely reliable technology when it comes to ensuring online security. Generally, when you browse on your computer or phone, the data that is sent or received is unencrypted, which is very vulnerable.
What you are searching or browsing is your personal matter, and no one should know about it. But this isn’t guaranteed when you are using a public access point. There are several reasons why using a VPN is important, including:
- Saves you from Hackers – You must beware of hackers, especially when you use banking services through any public Wi-Fi. It is often said that you must always access banking services through a secure and private network.
But in case you are forced to do so, you must use a VPN as unencrypted data is very easy to breach and hackers can do it in seconds with the right tools and methods. Using a VPN saves you from them.
- Protects your Sensitive Data – If you are in business, you must have an idea of how important it is to protect a client’s confidential data. You have been entrusted with their data, and that’s why you cannot be irresponsible with it.
If you regularly need to access any sensitive data through public access points, make sure that you use a VPN to safeguard it.
- Values your Privacy – What you browse, why you browse it, and from where you browse; it is personal and doesn’t need to be known to anyone. A VPN helps you to keep this information private.
- Unblocks Geo-Blocked Content – Not every service is available everywhere. A movie that is available in the UK may not be available in the US. Countries block certain websites or restrict content to be streamed in their territory. When you want to access a geo-blocked website, again, a VPN proves to be very helpful.
- Reduces Extra Support Costs – For a business organization, installing a VPN can be proved really cost-effective.
As you start using a VPN service, you realize that it is more important than it has been given the credit for. So, you need to understand how it works and get a VPN for your system as well.
How does a VPN Work?
Most people wonder about this technology and how it does all these fantastic activities while keeping things simple. You must understand what a VPN does and how it works so that you make the most of your VPN.
It Encrypts Your Data
Whether you are searching for a website under the sheets or accessing a blocked website, you don’t want anyone to know about it. Then why governments, your Internet Service Provider, and concerned authorities should know about it!
Well, a VPN encrypts your data in a safety packet that cannot be looked into. In simple words, the actual data is hidden while your ISP can only see some nonsense. If your ISP can’t know what you are accessing, they will not be able to block it. So, you can browse without any worries.
It Hides your IP Address
In the world of the Internet, you can be tracked by your IP address. If you try to search an inaccessible website, which is blocked at your location, your ISP will warn you.
Thus, a VPN encrypts your IP address and lets you browse anonymously. You can also be tracked through the websites you use. But a VPN creates a hoax IP address for you. When you are not using your original IP address, you cannot be tracked back.
A VPN has its Own Servers
The encrypted IP address created by a VPN can only be decrypted by VPN servers. The dedicated servers protect your identity and pass every bit of data through their own servers before directing it towards you.
This safety feature saves you from hackers, sniffers, and other online thieves as well who can obtain your information through your IP address. In these ways, a VPN provides you overall security that is unmatchable. From protecting your data and identity to your search history, everything is protected with a good VPN.
You should, however, note that the level of security is not the same with every VPN. There are different security measures provided by different VPNs due to their different protocols. Check them out.
Different Levels of Security Provided By Different VPNs
Numerous VPNs are available in the market, and all of them have different features. But a majority of them use one of these below-mentioned security protocols:
Every good VPN provides AES 256-bit encryption, 160-bit SHA1 hash algorithm, and 2048 bit RSA authentication. All of these are provided by the OpenVPN protocol. Since its advent, it has become very popular among developers.
Not exactly obsolete, but Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol is one of the oldest protocols available in the history of VPNs. Developed by Microsoft in the mid-90s, it, thus, lacks the modern security features of the newer security protocols.
The technology, nonetheless, is still used by several VPNs, and if you do not need heavy encryption and military-grade security, it will work just fine.
The successor to IKEv1, Internet Key Exchange version 2 was developed by Microsoft in collaboration with Cisco. The security protocol is built on the IPSec authentication suite, and, majorly, handles requests and response action by establishing and handling security associations.
Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol a.k.a. SSTP is best for Microsoft users as it is a Microsoft product and integrates fully with every operating system from the tech giant. It gives you 2048-bit SSL/TLS authentication and 256-bit SSL encryption. As a Microsoft product, naturally, no other developer has access to the code.
Layer 2 Tunnel protocol can be named as the modern-day PPTP protocol. Made in conjunction with the IPSec protocol, this security protocol provides the required level of security, safety, and speed for mitigating the online risk of the present times.
How To Choose a Good VPN?
A virtual private network has lots of benefits, and every provider suggests you try out its VPN. Some of them are also available free of cost. But you must not get fooled by the state-of-the-art features or low cost. Instead, you should choose a VPN as per your needs.
Here is a list of features you must look for in a VPN in order to securely browse the web without losing your peace of mind:
- No Log Policy – You don’t want anyone to know the websites you visit or the content you access, and this applies to your VPN as well. A good VPN has a strict no-log policy i.e. it should not keep any data about your search history.
- Kill Switch – This is an important feature of every good VPN. As soon as your VPN connection terminates, your internet connection will also be terminated. In this way, your data is not compromised, and you can continue browsing after reestablishing the connection.
- Number of Servers – A VPN lets you access geo-blocked websites by letting you change your location. A VPN with a large network of servers allows you greater flexibility to switch between countries where the desired content is available.
If you are getting a VPN to access geo-blocked websites, you must choose a VPN that has the most number of servers in different countries.
- Two-Factor Authentication – Your VPN must also be protected from any third- parties. You must choose a VPN that authenticates every login and log out.
- Encryption of Your IP Address – This is the basic function of a VPN, i.e. to hide your identity. A VPN with a higher level of encryption and leak protection should be chosen.
A best VPN has a no-log policy, a kill-switch, a DNS, port forwarding, a large number of servers, leak protection, etc. But is there any better way than using a VPN to protect your system from the prying eyes of ISP and the hackers?
A VPN has to compete with a proxy (server) very often. But which is better between the two? Let’s understand.
Which is Better – A VPN or a Proxy Server?
When it comes to protecting data, both the proxies and VPNs have their fair share of users. But these 2 should not be compared because of their entirely different features. As there is confusion among the users about which one is better, you must understand their differences and decide it yourself, which are stated as follows:
- When you desire a good level of privacy, you need to pay, and that’s why most VPNs are paid while a majority of the proxy servers are free. This is a major difference that makes many household users use a proxy server.
- VPNs encrypt your traffic along with your IP address, which makes them a little slower than proxies, but there are some ways to overcome this.
- Proxy servers are infamous for their frequent connection drops. This is not a problem with virtual private networks.
- With a proxy server, your IP address is hidden, but with a VPN, your identity, your traffic, and even your location are hidden. This is the biggest advantage of choosing a VPN over a proxy.
If you want a high-level of security, then there is no better option than VPNs as proxy servers may sell your data to third parties. To avoid this risk, choose a VPN and protect yourself.
Tips for Using Public Wi-Fi Connections
Now, you might have a good idea about why you need a VPN. But if you still do not want to go for it, you should, at least, use these tips to securely use public Wi-Fi connections.
The public connections in hostels, cafeteria, hotels, airports, etc., may lure you into quickly signing in to your social media account for a minute. But you should take these precautions while doing so:
- Do not visit a website you do not trust, or you know it is not fully encrypted. From the second you log in to the time you log out, the entire visit must be strictly encrypted. If you find yourself on an unencrypted website, log out immediately.
- When connected to a public network, if your device warns you against a malicious or unwanted website, pay attention to it.
- From the moment you connect to a public Wi-Fi network, do not leave your phone or device alone.
- Only connect to a public network that provides the WPA2 encryption.
- Use different passwords for every account or platform. So that even if your password gets stolen, you are not hacked into every account.
- When you are done using a website or online service using a public Wi-Fi network, log out immediately. Do not stay signed in.
- Make sure that your phone does not automatically connect to the nearest network without your consent.
These tips can help you stay safe to a great extent even when you use the Wi-Fi at your school canteen or the airport.
You are now well informed about VPNs, how they work, and how they keep you safe online. Now, you need to get one to up the defenses of your devices.
With the best VPN, you not only get to access blocked websites and content but also add robust online security for all your information, sensitive or not. So, get the best one now.
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