There is a strong chance that you will need a virtual private network if you are a daily internet surfer. Due to the pandemic, users have more concern than ever about digital privacy since everything happens remotely. It can help if you do not want your internet service provider to keep an eye on your online activity. You don’t want to reveal your identity and data or access content that is not accessible in your county. In this blog, we will understand what a VPN does and how it can improve your browsing experience. So let’s start off.
What is a VPN?
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. Your Internet Service Provider has a track of every single thing you do on the internet. It creates an encrypted tunnel between you and a distant server operated by a VPN service. This hides your private data from your Internet Service Provider.
(ISP), and also from the hackers expecting to steal your sensitive information. Since your data is exciting the VPN server, your device seems to have the Internet protocol (IP) address of that particular server, covering up your geological location and your identity.
Originally, companies and enterprises use VPN connections to safeguard their data online, but lately, VPN services have become popular among personal internet users. For Example, you can access geo-restricted content (Eg- American Horror Story on Netflix) on streaming services, stay anonymous on public Wi-Fi networks, and secure data when accessing financial websites. You can use it on any device which uses the internet, from computers to a smart TV or even a router. Using a VPN on any of these devices can provide additional security when connected to public Wi-Fi.
What is the work of a VPN?
In very simple words, it connects your smartphone, PC, tablet, or any other device to another computer (called the server) somewhere on the internet and allows you to browse the internet using that computer’s internet connection. So if that server belongs to an XYZ country, it will appear that you are using the internet sitting in that country, and by this, you can get direct access to matter which is restricted in your country. Also, encryption via VPN permits a private connection via a public network.
All the traffic between your computer and the server is encrypted, i.e., converted into codes to hide the information, preventing the others who try to look into your data that you are sharing. Businesses use a VPN to secure their private information when an employee needs to connect to the company’s database. Many personal users also rely on VPN service to hide their IP address from websites since many ISPs collect your browsing logs and sell them to advertising companies. In addition to that, people rely on a VPN service for security and privacy as well.
This was the work of VPN, but how does this all take place? Let’s take a look at it.
How Does A VPN Work?
It works by encrypting your data and then hiding them in a tunnel to move it to another location. VPN tunneling creates an end-to-end connection that cannot be accessed by unauthorized users(hackers).
The VPN client, which is present in our device, encrypts the internet traffic before sending it to the server. This encryption protects your information and makes it private. The server, located somewhere else, receives your data and decrypts it, meaning the computer with the correct decoder can read it. After this, the server sends your request to the websites. Once the server gets a reply, it encrypts the data once again and sends it back to your device. The VPN client on your device and the server follow a protocol for the encryption of data.
To actually create the tunnel, you can use a tunneling protocol over the existing networks. Other VPNs such as OpenVPN or Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP) use different tunneling protocols. The protocol used may depend on the platform on which the VPN is used. It will provide data encryption at varying strengths. This tunnel is what makes it look like you are in another location by using a remote server.
While the server sends your data on, the website or the service receives the server’s IP address, keeping your IP address secure. To track your details like the location of your device, your web browser, and other identifying information, you can use this IP address. The IP address change also prevents others from spying on your online activity.
The VPN should support simultaneous connection so that it allows the connection of all your devices simultaneously. This is how it works. Let’s check some benefits and drawbacks of it.
Benefits Of A VPN
Access Blocked Content from Anywhere
If you want to access content that is not available in your home country. A VPN can be your best friend. It helps you to any geoblock, i.e., particular content not available due to your geographic location. It allows you to change your IP address and appear as though you are in a different country. By this, you can access any site, no matter how hard they try to keep it out.
It Keeps You Safe
Public Wi-Fi can easily hack you. It is possible that you might log into a fake public WiFi with a similar name. Just because it’s known as Starbucks_FreeWiFi, that does not mean the popular coffeehouse really owns it. If using that public WiFi, you logged into your bank account or updating your sensitive information; you don’t want to be hacked. A VPN encrypts your data and keeps your private activity really private, whether you are browsing in private or through public WiFi. It keeps you anonymous, and hackers, even government officials, cannot trace your online activity.
It Can Save You Money
Many e-commerce websites show different prices to shoppers from other countries. For instance, A product like a casual jacket may seem very expensive. If you access a site from America but may instantly drop in price if you access the same site through a server in Bangladesh. This is a very profitable trick in booking flight tickets and hotels. It can save you hundreds or even thousands of bucks.
VPNs Are Affordable
VPNs are noticeably cheaper than other types of security plans. At not more than a few bucks a month, you can get a premium VPN service that can unblock any website and keeps your connection private and secure. There is no complex hardware to install or requires a technician for installation, you can install a VPN, and it will start working within minutes. There are numerous free VPN services available as well, but they are never exactly “free.” Using the free VPN services, you will either see many popup ads, limited data transfer, extremely slow internet speed, or even worse. Some free VPNs even sell your personal data to third parties or provide you with somewhat average security at best. But once you become habitual to the benefits of a premium VPN service, the paid may feel absolutely deserving.
Drawbacks Of A VPN
VPN Can Slow Down Your Connection Speed
Since a VPN encrypts and reroutes your data through a VPN server, your internet connection may slow down somewhat. This is why it is important to check the speed of a VPN while using it. Users like gamers who require a high-speed internet connection for streaming or downloading may experience lag and delay with a wrong VPN.
Anti-VPN Service Is Getting Stronger
Streaming services like Netflix, which uses VPN blockers because it has contracts with movie distributors, which allows them to show content in specific countries block the VPNs. Not all the VPNs can get through the strong blockers which these sites are equipped with.
VPN Connection Can Suddenly Drop
VPN services suddenly drop the connection. The main issue of this isn’t just the trouble of reconnecting. The fear is that the minute your connection drops, your encrypted data is also dropped, leading to the release of your anonymousness(hidden identity). This is mainly because your IP address is exposed to the website. Connection drop is a major issue faced by many VPN users. However, this can be prevented by a Kill Switch feature, which will immediately disconnect you from the internet in case of a server drop. But this feature is available only in premium VPN services.
How To Check If VPN is Working?
There is a range of test VPN services available on the web to help you discover possible flaws in your VPN. You will have to pay for these facilities, which may be a hassle. However, by manual screening, you can inspect the security on the Internet. Here are the three ways to check if your VPN is working:
Check Your VPN For DNS Leak
The VPN checker services are quite common in detecting a VPN for any DNS leaks. Let’s see how to you can check:
- Firstly Sign in to your VPN application.
- Then select any server in a different country.
- Now go to a geo-restricted website of the country that you’ve selected.
If at all you’re not able to access the website then you may have a DNS leak.
Check Your VPN For IP Leak
You should do a VPN test time to time on a regular basis. This will surely help you to understand your online security in a better way.
- Firstly, you need to determine your IP address. Disconnect your VPN.
- Now, you’ll find your IP address on the top. Note down that number.
- Sign in to your VPN and select the server of any country of your choice.
- Now go to what is my IP, and you should see a new address.
- Ensure that the IPs are different at the time you connected and when you disconnected.
If the new IP address matches your IP address, it is a clear symbol that your VPN is leaking your IP address.
Check Your VPN For WebRTC Leak
Testing you VPN test is really important especially when it concerns matters that is related to your online privacy and security.
- So, firstly connect to your VPN.
- Now select any server of any country of your choice.
- Now go to what is my IP address. You will be able to see your IP address at the top.
- Now, copy and paste the discovered IP address into Google’s search bar and type IP before the numbers. Click on Enter.
If in any event where your location comes up, it simply means that you have a WebRTC leak.
How to Add Browser Extensions?
Many VPNs require either manual updates to your system settings or uploading and installing an app on your operating system. Instead, a VPN browser extension is a basic plugin that you can turn on and off when browsing the web. Notice that the words “plugin” and “extension” are used interchangeably. VPN browser plugins do come with a catch, though: they only secure your web browser, not any applications or utilities on your device. Other software, games, and tools do use a simple, unencrypted internet connection. You’ll need to install a native VPN application if you want to encrypt them.
- Firstly, sign up for a VPN provider.
- Open Google Chrome.
- Now, go to the Chrome Web Store.
- Search your extension name in the store or scroll down to get the recommended extensions also.
- Whenever you will find the extension of your choice, click on the Add to Chrome Button.
- Click on Add extension in the confirmation box.
- Firstly, sign up for a VPN provider.
- Open Mozilla Firefox.
- Now, go to the Firefox Add-ons site.
- Click on Extensions at the top of your page.
- In the Find add-ons tab, simply type the name of the extension that you want.
- Whenever you will find the extension of your choice, click on the +Add to Firefox button.
- Click on the Install option, at the upper-right corner of the page.
- A notification will appear on your screen when the installation is done.
- Firstly, sign up for a VPN provider.
- Open Safari.
- Open the Safari menu and select the Safari Extensions option in the menu.
- The App Store opens and shows extension content, including suggestions. If you want to check for plugins, press Done in the upper right corner of the browser.
- The App Store will open. To the left, check for Safari extensions to list the available extensions.
- If you want to search for an extension, search for the “safari extension phrase.”
- Click the Get button to install the extension. Then press the Install button.
- If you are asked to log in, enter your Apple ID and your password, then press Get.
- Wait for the progress meter to be done. Then press Open to launch the app extension, or close the App Store and continue to use Safari.
A VPN has both its advantages and disadvantages, but it is alright to say that there are more pros. A premium service may reduce the disadvantages for you. Not only can you access the content you want whenever you want, furthermore you don’t even need to worry about your private data as it is very well guarded against hackers. You need to choose the right VPN service which meets all your requirements and suits you the best for your needs.