What is a VPN?

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, a network technology that establishes a secure network connection through public networks. In other words, using a VPN gives users the possibility to securely access a private network and share data over a public network such as Internet. A VPN protects your data online. Technically, a VPN is a WAN (Wide Area Network) that can connect to multiple sites through a long distance. Access to the private network requires login details and password. In order to gain access to a private network, user require a PIN (Personal Identification Number). This authentication code changes with certain frequency (about every 30 seconds) to increase security.

What are VPN Protocols?

In order to securely transport data traffic through a public network, a number of VPN protocols are implemented. The difference between protocols is that each of them protects the data in a different way. IP security (known as IPSec) is the protocol used to keep communications over Internet secure. IPsec traffic may use transport mode or tunnelling to encrypt the data in a VPN. Transport mode means that only the message contained in the data package is encrypted, while tunnelling implies that the entire data packet is encrypted.

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) employ cryptography to keep communications secure over the Internet. These protocols use a method of authentication that can be described as a “handshake” method, as it involves a negotiation of network parameters between the client and server machines. In order to successfully establish a connection, certificates are used during the authentication process. Certificates are cryptographic codes that are stored on the server as well as on the client.

Another tuneling protocol is PPTP (Point-To-Point Tunneling Protocol), which is used to establish a connection between a remote client and a private server over the Internet. PPTP is one of the most popular VPN protocols it is included with the Windows operating system but also because not only because of it is simple to set up and to maintain.

L2TP or Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol is used to tunnel data communications traffic between two sites over the Internet. L2TP is often used at the same time as IPsec to add security to the transfer of date over the Internet. The combined usage if L2TP and IPsec, requires the use od certificates or a shared key. In order to ensure that communications are kept private, VPN technology uses a highly advanced encryption to ensure security.

Why should I use a VPN?

Using a VPN service, ensures that you can surf internet securely and privately. It prevents monitoring of your network traffic ensuring that your information remains protected. It also prevents tracing of your internet identity, giving you the option of being anonymous online and hiding your IP address. A VPN protects your data from online fraudsters and guarantees privacy for all your details.

Apart from giving you peace of mind when you access Internet, a VPN also allows you to access online content regardless of your location. No matter where you are, you will be able to view localized content without restrictions. If you live in a country that restricts the sites that you can visit, a VPN gives you the possibility of accessing any website by changing the IP of the country you are connecting from.

What should I look for in a VPN?

There are different aspects to consider when choosing a VPN service provider. It is important to choose a VPN that has servers in different locations. If you are particularly interested in using a VPN to watch TV from another country, make sure that the provider that you select, has servers located in that country. It is also important to check the protocols supported. Even though they all offer a secure connection, it is advisable to choose one that suits your needs. For example, PPTP supports most systems, including DD-WRT and works well with mobile devices and tablets. However it only offers basic encryption. OpenVPN on the other hand is very secure but may not be available in mobile devices as its compatibility is greater with desktops. It is also important to make sure that your VPN provider offers Anti-Malware/Anti-Spyware features and that they offer a good package of services for the price you pay.