VPN is a technology which creates a virtual private network to which end users are connected via an encrypted channel.
VPN is popular both among home and corporate users. Its popularity is due to the fact that it brings unmatched benefits in an interconnected world full of challenges to information security and privacy.
VPN has unique advantages from which the top ones are improved security, privacy protection, access to restricted resources and better connectivity.
Security is one of the biggest challengers in today’s interconnected world. As soon as your PC and mobile phone are connected to the Internet, you are being targeted by unlimited number of malicious programs, viruses, hackers and other unknown new threats appearing every day. Not only this but also the information you send and received might be intercepted, read and even altered.
Local security solutions such as antivirus, firewall, etc., are not sufficient to protect you unfortunately. A separate, external solution is needed to protect the communication from you to the outside world.
That’s where VPN comes to play. VPNs secure the otherwise insecure connection between you and remote resources. VPNs should be used especially in public networks such as WiFis. In any case, as a general rule no network should be considered secure because the communication flow passes through numerous points (routers) and for an attacker is sufficient to compromise any one of these points in order to compromise the communication channel and its information flow.
However, even if the communication channel is compromised, you cannot be harmed or the harm will be minimal if you are connected to a VPN. This is because the VPN connection is encrypted and cannot be decrypted and thus read. When an attacker captures VPN traffic he will be able to see only incomprehensible characters going from you to a VPN server. Thus, the attacker is not even able to see to what remote resources you are connected (sites, chats, etc).
Nowadays privacy is another serious challenge because you can be easily identified when you are online. This means that anyone from curious people and aggressive marketing company representatives to government officials can find your name, address and location with little difficulty.
As soon as you are connected online with your pc or mobile phone you are leaving traces such as your IP address and Internet service provider. This ultimately reveals essential personal information. To protect yourself from such highly undesired disclose you cannot count on any official regulations or Internet service providers.
Instead, to protect your privacy you should use VPN again. Thus, with VPN whenever you visit web sites, listen to radio, chat, etc. you will be identified with the VPN provider, i.e. his IP address, location etc. Essentially, your own IP address and personal details will remain hidden.
Using VPN for privacy protection is more than just recommended because of the frequent abuses with personal information. Furthermore, VPN is absolutely a must for any political activist or other people who have reasons to avoid disclosing their identity.
Even though there are other solutions such as web proxies to protect your identity they are not as efficient as the VPN technology. Proxies, for example, usually send information about the original IP of the client which makes them useless in regards to privacy protection.
Access to restricted resources
Sometimes service providers such as online radios, TVs, etc restrict access only to clients within certain geographical areas or Internet service providers. Other times company policies prevent employees to connect to generally available sites or resources such as Facebook. Such not always reasonable restrictions leave you with no option but to use VPN.
VPNs have multiple points of presence in different geographic regions. The fact that you are identified only with the VPN provider allows you to circumvent any geographical restrictions.
VPNs are especially popular in countries such as China where access to sites / resources is heavily restricted. In such countries you can access anything online as long as you are connected to a VPN.
VPNs also work the other way around in access restrictions. You or your organization may wish to limit the access to certain private resources such as file shares only to a certain network segment. This is essential from security point of view because authentication is rarely enough to protect the security of sensitive information.
Here again VPNs can be used and you can allow only the VPN network to connect to such private sensitive resources.
Sometimes your Internet routes may not be optimal or your bandwidth may be limited especially towards International online resources. This leads to poor web experience and slow browsing especially for certain resources which are distant from your physical location.
In such cases you can connect to a local VPN point of presence which further routes your traffic. This will allow you to have a bandwidth to distant destinations similar to the bandwidth available between you and your local VPN server.
Such better connectivity can be observed especially in users whose ISPs differentiate local (usually country-wide) resources and international such. These providers will enforce bandwidth limits on access to International resources and you can avoid these resources only by using VPN.
VPNs have also other benefits depending on the VPN service provider you are using. For example, some VPN service providers allow their users to share more easily and faster information between themselves, play games and perform any other activity as if they are within a local area network (LAN).
Another benefit may include port forwarding. This means that if you have a resource, e.g. web server, IP camera, etc, you wish to share to the world or access remotely you may use the VPN for this purpose. This is especially useful if your resource is located inside a local network and has an internal IP address. In such cases this resource can be configured to connect to the VPN and thus receive an external IP at which it can be accessed