VPN: What It Is, Why You Need One, and How to Choose

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VPN: What It Is, Why You Need One, and How to Choose

Security and privacy are more important for internet users than ever before, and if you’re looking to protect yourself, installing a virtual private network (VPN) should be your first step.



You need to determine which features are most important for your VPN needs.



We live our lives online to an extent that would have been unthinkable not that long ago. In this reality, internet security is more important than ever, and a VPN is a great way to defend yourself against security threats, safeguard your privacy, access networks remotely, and bypass filters that block you out of web content based on your location.


To put it another way, a VPN is an essential tool for using the internet today, and once you’ve determined what your online security and privacy needs are, you can find the right VPN that works best for you.


How to Choose a VPN

So we’ve got you convinced, but what should you look for when buying a VPN? There are three main factors to consider: logging, security protocols, and servers.


Logging

There are two types of logs - connection logs and usage logs. Connection logs are a basic record of your connection to the VPN server, including your IP, how long you were online and how much data was transferred. These logs are kept by the VPN to deal with technical issues. Usage logs on the other hand show which websites you’ve visited, the files you’ve downloaded and which files you've used. You want to look for a VPN provider that has a strict no usage log policy. Some companies have been known to make money by selling the data from customers’ usage logs, which can include sensitive information that you don't want getting out there.


Security protocol

A VPN uses a security protocol to encrypt your information and keep it out of the hands of third parties. That said, some protocols are stronger than others, and some, like PPTP (point to point tunnelling protocol) are known to have security flaws. OpenVPN is seen as the best in the industry, but many providers allow for multiple security protocols and you want to make sure that yours uses one that is known for airtight security.

Another handy and common security feature is an automatic kill switch, which will automatically take you offline if the VPN for some reason stops working.


Servers

The more servers the merrier is the rule of thumb when it comes to VPNs. If there are too many people using the server, things can slow down, making your connection at times choppy. You should look for a VPN that uses a large number of servers in as many locations as possible so you can hop around if things get a bit sluggish.

Besides these three parameters, it’s also very important that you figure out what your VPN needs are. Do you run a business network you need to access remotely? Do you share a lot of files online? Is security your number one concern? What about privacy? These two factors aren’t the same thing - privacy features keep your identity safe while online, while security features keep out viruses, malware, spyware and the like.



Security

VPNs are a popular security solution for people who want to keep their data and personal details safe while they are surfing online. Many businesses use VPNs for their communication because a VPN can secure data while employees are using remote data centres.

VPNs provide a secure, encrypted tunnel for data transmission between your computer and the company’s network, so even if a hacker was able to get their hands on your data, they’d be unable to use it. Most VPNs will also deploy a firewall on your device as a first line of security.

These safeguards are especially important when surfing on WiFi connections in public, such as at a cafe or on the bus. These are popular routes for hackers to infiltrate your system, but with a VPN you have a powerful line of defense.

Many websites can download spyware and malware to your computer online, and with a solid VPN, you can stop this threat at the front door.

If an organisation wishes to provide a secure network infrastructure for its clients, a VPN can offer various advantages. The two most prominent advantages include cost savings and network scalability.


Cost Savings

Implementing a VPN can help organisations to save a lot of money in several situations like for instance where they need to eliminate the need for expensive long distance leased lines.

Additionally, with a VPN, the cost for maintaining servers tends to be a lot less compared to other approaches, as organisations can outsource the needed support to professional third party service providers.


VPN Network Scalability

The cost to build a dedicated private network may seem reasonable at first but as the business expands, this cost might increase overtime. A company with two different locations will need to create one dedicated line to connect the two offices but as the company grows, it will need to setup more dedicated lines to create a connection between all of its locations.

A VPN eliminates the need to use dedicated lines by allowing the business to use local public lines and network capabilities, which are readily available.


What is a VPN?

A VPN is a group of computers that are set up as a network on the internet and which you can access from your personal computer and/or mobile devices in order to protect yourself from eavesdropping. A VPN takes your private network and extends it across a public network, so that your IP address and data are encrypted and hidden.

Many people use VPNs today not only for security, but also in order to change the location of their computer so that they can stay connected to a work network even when outside of the office. In addition, in countries where there is rigid state control of the internet, a VPN can help you sidestep the authorities and access banned websites, while also covering your virtual tracks.


What are some of the main reasons to install a VPN on your devices? Let’s take a look.


Why You Need a VPN

Working and studying remotely

In the digital age, there are more people working remotely than ever before, and more and more students are using the internet for their lectures and for accessing source material and other academic resources. This relatively new reality requires novel solutions, and this is where VPNs help.


The way it works is that the person in question installs a VPN provided by their work or their school which they can then use to access network resources even while away from work or off campus. The VPN creates one unified connection between all of a company’s facilities, allowing you to link them across the world. This way you can work remotely and still access your work network, while safeguarding the security of the system through the VPN. It means not having to be on location in order to access network material safely and efficiently.

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