What is a VPN?
A Virtual Private Network (VPN), can come in many shapes and sizes, it was originally used by organisations to help people connect to their work environment, but is now used by everyone to help safeguard their information and data.
A VPN works like a tunnel, it opens up a secure encrypted hole through the internet, sort of like a tunnel, this tunnel can only be used by your device and to everyone else your information looks like a mismatch of garbled information on the internet. This helps to protect the information that you are sending across the internet.
The majority of VPN providers have many Point Of Presence (POP) endpoints across the world, these POPs allow you to establish a connection to whichever country or city you like.
If a VPN is being used by an organisation, the VPN will allow the end user to establish a secure connection to the work environment, allowing the user to access everything they normally can when they are sat in the office.
Today, where we are with security and how easy it is to intercept network traffic on free wireless networks, there’s not really an answer not to use a VPN. It has minimal overhead, you won’t notice any slowdown on your internet traffic, unless you connect to one of the VPN’s remote connections which is on the other side of the world.
How does it help?
In a nutshell yes, implementing a VPN solution, whether commercial or residential can help you. For businesses it helps with remote access, for home users, it adds an extra layer of security to your laptop or mobile device.
When you’re next in the local coffee shop and you connect to the free Wi-Fi, think to yourself, who has access to the data on this wireless network? Do you fully trust it? Who else is on the network potentially eavesdropping on the information that is being sent over it?
By trying on and connecting via a VPN whilst at the local coffee shop you establish a secure encrypted connection from your device to the VPN endpoint and then browse the internet like you normally would, with minimal overhead. This allows you to ensure that no one can intercept and watch your private network traffic.
VPN’s are recommended especially if you are going to log onto your bank or other financial sites.
Easier access to corporate networks
Most well-established businesses nowadays will utilise a VPN, this allows remote workers to work a lot easier than before. No longer do they have to use a dial up connection, they can simply connect to a wireless network and turn on their VPN connection and establish a secure connection to the office network. Once then connection has been established the remote user will have access to everything they normally do when based within the office.
It allows the authorised remote people to access data easily, allows them to connect to services and servers without the added complication of trying to connect.
Another benefit of using a VPN application is that it can allow you to bypass regional restrictions some online services may have implemented. For example if you are on holiday and want to watch some local news, you could connect to a local VPN point of presence (POP) which will allow you to pretend that you are accessing that information from the same region.
Using a more localised region through a VPN application can sometimes increase performance of online operations.
There are however some restrictions to this, for instance Amazon Prime and Netflix are starting to track whether you are using a VPN application and can block you from using them to gain an advantage over other people.
There are many VPN applications and products out on the market, depending upon whether you are connecting to your corporate network or using one for home use, will depend upon the application of choice.
For home use, below are some of the most popular ones, listed in no particular order, they all range in cost and features:
- F-Secure FREEDOME – https://www.f-secure.com/gb-en/home/products/freedome
- ExpressVPN – https://www.expressvpn.com/
- NordVPN – https://nordvpn.com/
- IPVanish – https://www.ipvanish.com/
- Hotspot Shield – https://www.hotspotshield.com/
- Surfshark – https://surfshark.com/
- CyberGhost – https://www.cyberghostvpn.com/en_US/
- StrongVPN – https://strongvpn.com/
- TunnelBear – https://www.tunnelbear.com/