Everything You Need to Know About VPN
This article will go over some important information about VPN - call it a VPN FAQ page if you will! Once this article is done you should have a much better understanding on exactly what VPN is and why it's so important.
Q: What Is a VPN?
A VPN, aka Virtual Private Network, is something that is used to add an extra layer of security and privacy to networks such as Wi-Fi hotspots and the internet. These can be used on both private and public networks. Even though these can be used by individual users they are mostly used by big companies that want to keep sensitive information protected such as client information or credit card information.
Q: Reasons Why You Need to Use A VPN?
There are many different reasons why someone would need or want to use a VPN. Here we will list and talk about some of those reasons.
- Being Anonymous Online: For normal people, this is the main reason they use a VPN. Their reasoning could be anything from not wanting people to be able to track them or they might not want important people, such as potential employers, to be able to see the things they post.
- Access Websites: Sometimes there are websites that are only available in certain areas and if you aren't in that area then you can't access that website. An example of that would be if you are visiting China but you want to access a website that is only available in the U.S. then you can use a VPN to get around the block.
- Protection: A VPN helps protect you against hackers and other people who are trying to steal your identity or other important information.
- Downloads: It helps you to safely download content from peer to peer file sharing networks.
- Public Wi-Fi: This is good for people who sign into public networks such as the public library. Since it is a public connection, it's easier for people to be able to hack into the network and steal your information or identity. Using a VPN will help protect against those kinds of attacks.
Keep in mind, these are only a few of the reasons why someone would use a VPN and there are others.
Q: Who benefits most from having a VPN?
There are many different types of people who will benefit the most from having a VPN. Those types of people are:
- Students or Workers: You will be able to access any websites from your school or work networks.
- People who regularly download: You can anonymously download any files, whether it's legally or illegally your identity will be hidden.
- Worried about privacy or security: If you feel anyone can read what you post or do online then having a VPN will help calm your fears.
- Frequent Travelers: If you are in a certain area and can't access content from other areas then you can use a VPN to gain access. For example, if you're visiting China but want to watch an American show then you can with a VPN.
Q: How Does A VPN Work?
1. The users are first connected to their internet service provider (ISP) which provides them the access to the websites they wish to visit or surf.
2. The user activity is encrypted and monitored by the ISP who can see the data being transmitted to the websites.
3. The VPN process starts with the user's network being connected to an encrypted server that is hidden to the ISP.
4. A VPN protocol is associated with the server connection to provide varying levels of encryption for the user.
5. The end result is a completely secure and anonymous connection for the user on a virtually created private network.
There are two main ways in which a VPN works, those two ways are: encryption and network tunneling. This is where an explanation will be given on how each works.
Encryption transforms your data and information into something that only users who are authorized on the VPN can view. People can still access the code but they can't read any of the information.
This is also known as encapsulation or port forwarding. The way this works is by one network sending its data using another networks connection. With a VPN, the provider will embed its network protocol into the TCP/IP packets that are carried by the actual internet. With it being this way it makes it more secure for the data and information to be moved from one network to the other.
Q: What Type of VPN Do You Need?
Before deciding what type of VPN you'll need, you need to know the different kinds and what they are useful for.
- IP Security (IPSec): This type of VPN is primarily used to make sure internet communications are kept secure. It usually comes in 2 modes. The first type, transport mode, only encrypts the data package message while the second method, which is tunneling, encrypts the entire data package. This would be the one to use if you are concerned with being secure while emailing or chatting.
- Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP): This type combines the L2TP protocol and the IPSec protocol. This type takes the best features from both protocols and a VPN that is extremely secure. Since L2TP can't encrypt data, it creates the tunnel and the IPSec protocol does the actual encrypting. This type is good for when you want extra protection all around.
- Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS): Both of these protocols use something that is called a handshake method. The way that method works is that the client starts up a HTTP-based connection. The connection always starts with http://. Once this is done, the handshake will give all the parameters of the session and that's what lets the two systems exchange encryption keys, authenticate the session, and create a secure connection. This type of VPN is solely used by online retailers and service providers.
- Point-To-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP): This is a VPN that's been used since the 1990s. This type of protocol doesn't do encryption but it DOES tunnel and encapsulate the data packet. When using this type of protocol, you need to use another one with it that will take care of the encryption aspect. This is good if you are just connecting to one other network.
- Secure Shell (SSH): This protocol not only creates the tunnel but it also does the encryption. While the data being transferred isn't protected, the route that it travels on is. SSH connections are started by the client and then it gets forwarded from the local port to one on a secure server. All data at each end of the tunnel travel through this port. This is good if you are transferring a bunch of data.
Q: How to Choose a Good VPN
In addition to figuring out which type is the right choice for you, you need to also look at other aspects of the different kinds of VPNs that are offered.
- Speed: While VPNs always make you lose some speed. With that being said, some VPNs have faster speeds than others.
- Privacy: Even though all VPNs offer privacy, the amount and extent that is given varies from provider to provider.
- Price: When looking at a provider, make sure you shop around. Find one that has what you need but offers it at a decent price.
- Supported Protocols: When choosing a provider to get your VPN from you want to make sure they offer the protocol that you need for your needs.
- Number of Connections: When looking at a provider you need to confirm how many connections they allow. For example, if the provider only allows 2 connections but you have 4 devices then you want to find a provider that will let you have all of them connected.
- Log Keeping: If you are concerned about a provider keeping logs then you need to make sure you find a provider that doesn't keep them.
- Software: Make sure you find a provider that has an easy to use platform.
- Cross-Platform Support: Make sure that the VPN will work across all your different device platforms.
- Payment Methods: Different providers offer different ways to pay for their services. For example, if you don't have a credit or debit card but have PayPal then make sure you find one that accepts that.
- Subscription vs Free: Even though some VPN providers are free, most are scams. Not only that, but most paid providers offer many more benefits than a free provider. If you do find a free one, make sure to do your homework on it so you know you aren't getting scammed and they don’t sell your data.
- Kill-Switch System: One last thing to consider is whether or not they have a kill-switch in place. If you want to be sure that the provider can't just turn your VPN off at any time then make sure you find one that doesn't have that.
- Customer Support: Make sure the provider you choose has good customer support so you can get any and all of your questions answered.
Q: Does VPN slow down internet speed?
A lot of people wonder if a VPN will slow down their internet. The answer is yes. Even though that is the case, it isn’t a big difference. Encrypting and decrypting information takes a lot of processing power so some internet slowing should be expected.
Q: Can I Do Anything to Speed Up My Internet Connection?
The good thing is that there might be something you can do. The main thing to try is to experiment with the different protocols. Some might make your connection run faster than others. Another thing you can check is that you are connected to the VPN server that is the closest to you.
Q: Will I Be Anonymous with A VPN?
While you might not be 100% anonymous, you can expect to have quite a bit of privacy. For example, if you are surfing the web in Australia but the VPN server you use is in Russia then the internet will think you are actually in Russia. One thing to watch out for is if the internet thinks you are in Russia and you are accessing a website that has content against the law there then you could face legal proceedings.
Q: Static IP vs Dynamic IP
These are the two main IP address types. If your device is given a static IP then that means that your IP address does not change. It will ALWAYS stay the same. If your device is given a dynamic IP then the address changes each time you login. Since dynamic IP addresses change each time, they are really good for extra security because they are hard to track.
Q: Can You Use A VPN with A Dynamic IP?
While it’s harder to use a VPN with a dynamic IP address, it is possible. The first thing you have to do is find a free DNS service and sign up for it. Once you do that you need to update your router and put in your new username and password. After that, the only thing you have to do is put the hostname into the remote clients and then it will always have the same IP address.
Q: Do I Need to Use a Firewall with My VPN?
Before using a VPN, your router automatically uses a firewall but when you use a VPN everything goes through a tunnel that goes through the firewall. When this happens, the firewall loses its protection. With that being said, many VPN providers offer a NAT firewall. What this does is filter everything between the VPN server and internet. Since some providers don’t offer this, you need to make sure they offer it.
Q: Is Using A VPN Legal?
While using a VPN is legal, problems could arise when the VPN is abused. An example of that would be doing illegal activity such as hacking and scamming. If you are using a VPN the correct way then it is completely legal.
Q: Will My VPN Work from Any Location?
The short answer is yes. Your VPN should work literally anywhere in the entire world. One thing to look at with different providers is if they are in multiple countries. Having them in multiple countries makes it so your connection will always be the same speed and reliable.
Q: How Long Can I Stay Connected to A VPN?
The good news about this is that there is not a time limit when using the VPN. You can use it as long as you need.
Q: Is It Easy to Set Up A VPN?
Setting up a VPN is one of the easiest things to do. Literally all you have to do sign up with the VPN provider and run the installer. That’s all there is to it.