This week on SaferPass’ Security Lexicon, we will be explaining VPNs. VPN(Virtual Private Network) is a term used to describe a technology which enables us to use the internet more securely. Today we will look at the advantages of VPNs and will let you in on at least 4 good reasons why you would need to use it yourselves.
The use of a VPN is very straightforward, but there are a couple of different methods and approaches:
Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) – this is the least secure VPN method, but a great entry point for those who don’t have any kind of experience with VPNs. This protocol is prone to connection problems, but on the other hand, is supported by almost every operating system, including Windows, Mac OS and even by operating systems for mobile devices.
Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP) and Internet Protocol Security (IPsec) – these are more secure than PPTP and almost as widely supported, but harder to set up. These two protocols can also experience the same connection problems as PPTP.
Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) – when you log into your internet banking or similar applications, you are using an SSL VPN without even knowing because, in this case, the VPN is running directly in your browser and does not require the installation of additional dedicated VPN software. A perk, that makes this kind of VPN very simple to use as well as more dependable than the previous ones.
Now that we know the different kinds of VPNs, let’s take a look at the reasons why to use one:
1. Secure connection
The basic use of a VPN is to ensure a secure and safe connection to a certain network on the internet. Most companies use VPNs so that their employees can access company documents, applications, printers and other resources without jeopardizing the security of the company network. A common user can setup a VPN for a secure connection to his home network, to access files remotely for example.
2. Connecting multiple networks
VPNs are perfectly suited to securely connect multiple networks together. Small and big companies alike use VPNs for the sharing of servers and other network resources between their offices across the world. Even if you don’t own a billion dollar conglomerate, you can connect multiple home networks together securely using VPNs.
3. Private internet activity
If you’re concerned about your online privacy, connecting to a public or not trusted network(a public Wi-Fi hotspot for example) using an encrypted VPN is the smart and secure choice. The VPN encrypts all your internet activity and thereby helps to repel potential attackers that would like to sniff out passwords or other information.
4. „This video is not available for your region“
If you’ve come across this famous notification on the internet, you surely know what it’s about – internet content limited for certain geographical regions. This can be videos, services and others and a VPN is one of the most easiest ways to bypass this. Perfect for journalists working against censorship, but also for common users trying to get to their favorite TV series.
So how do you actually start to use a VPN? The most simple way is to use one of the hundreds of VPN services online, that work directly in your browser. This allows you to surf anonymously and more securely across the internet, however, for the setup of a VPN to remotely connect to your home network, or to a company network, you’re going to need to do more than that. We recommend to check out the basic VPN setup for Windows 8, additionally there’s a great video on digital security, anonymity and the use of VPN and other neat tools for securing your use of the internet. In case you have your own tips and tricks regarding VPN, don’t hesitate to share them in the comments below.