Promoting Security, Privacy, and Safety

VPN connections: What they are and why you should have one

Connecting through the open Internet is like walking through the thickly vegetated wilderness. You just don’t know what is hidden in the leaves spying on you or waiting behind the next bush ready to pounce. Just like a pair of snake boots can keep the poison at bay so too can a virtual private network (VPN) protect from the dangers of the Internet.

Why use a VPN?

Don’t want to see your accounts like Facebook, twitter, or worse, your bank account taken over through packet sniffing, Wi-Fi spoofing, hacking and spying? Then maybe it is time to consider the inexpensive protection you get from renting a VPN.

Want access to your favorite websites while traveling abroad, at school or at work? Want access to websites only available in other countries? Don’t get locked out by geographical location restrictions or blocked by a school / work network administrator. Stay connected by renting a cheap VPN service.

Want to be able to download and share files using bitTorrent or other torrentling clients without being throttled or harassed by the local Internet provider? Then it is time to consider the encryption benefits provided by a low cost VPN.

What is a VPN CONNECTION?

A VPN is basically a high anonymity proxy with encryption. Using a proxy is simply redirecting your Internet connection through another computer and then on to wherever your destination might be. Renting a VPN takes this a step further.

  1. The data is encrypted on your computer before it ever leaves your computer. The data is then sent out to the proxy server where it is unencrypted and sent on its way to the destination.
  2. The data returning from the destination comes back to the server where it is encrypted and sent back to your computer.

No one between your computer and the VPN can tell what it is you are sending and receiving or from where you are sending and receiving. All they see is your computer is connected to some computer out on the Internet, but the data is unreadable. All anyone sees out on the Internet is a highly anonymous server and not your location or your computer. You are now an anonymous web surfer.

Another great benefit

An old saying is “location, location, location… is everything”. This can be true when it comes to Internet access as well. A great benefit to buying a VPN connection is the ability to choose VPN servers to connect to within the network. The best VPN service providers not only make an IP anonymous, but have VPN servers setup in many countries. This gives the user the ability to appear as though they are accessing the Internet from any country in the VPN network.

So – If a website uses IP location to limit content to people living in specific countries, you can get around this location restriction by using a VPN server located in that country.

For example, travelers, whether business, expats, military families, students, etc. can’t log on to web services they normally use back home like Netflix or Facebook because they are not connecting to the Internet from their home country. So they can simply connect to a server in their home country and then connect to the restricted website without incident.

You can bypass geographically restricted region-locked websites like: ESPN, BBC, iPlayer, Pandora, Spotify, Hulu, Fancast, Steam, YouTube, Grooveshark, NBC, FOX, CBS, ABC, Facebook, Netflix, Comedy Central, Sky Player, Itunes, Zatoo, and many more.

Not just for businesses anymore

VPN access used to be almost exclusively for businessmen to connect securely back into the corporate network while traveling. Big businesses also used them to connect outlying office networks into the main office network. But with the growing personal VPN business taking off, renting a VPN is becoming very popular for those who value the high security, anonymity, and access a VPN gateway can provide.

Now that renting a virtual private network connection has become popular for personal use, VPN solutions have developed mobile client software. So yes we can all access a VPN through our mobile Android, IPad, and iPhone devices as well as the Windows, Linux, and Mac operating systems.

The OpenVPN protocol has been helping the proliferation of VPN use across platforms. OpenVPN is an SSL VPN. SSL client software user-space implementation allows portability across operating systems and processor architectures, firewall and NAT-friendly operation, dynamic address support, and multiple protocol support including protocol bridging.

Other VPN protocols like IPSec are implemented by modifying the IP stack in kernel space so each operating system requires its own independent implementation of IPSec. Traditionally, IPSec VPN has been multi-vendor supported though this is beginning to wane as OpenVPN takes preference.

PPTP VPN protocol had an advantage of a pre-installed client on Windows, but there are security concerns with PPTP. OpenVPN provides a higher level of encryption.

To read more about deciding if you need a VPN service click here.