What is a VPN?
A VPN (virtual private network) is a so-called virtual point-to-point connection, which is developed for establishing a protected access to some Internet data as if you were using a local net. The protected access is based on secure protocols usage. These secure VPN protocols make a tunneling passing through which all usersâ€™ traffic turns to be encrypted.
Why do you need a VPN?
Speaking about a VPN and why you need it a few topics have to be headlined, which are to tell for themselves why you need a VPN.
What kinds of threats and impairment of interests can you face without using a VPN?
Internet freedom vs. censorship
Internet freedom is engaged to provide each user with equal possibilities on the Internet. At the same time, there are countries that follow the politics of total censorship, which leads to infringement of Internet freedom and therefore interests impairment. Here are just some of the well-known countries with a rough censorship politics:
China: Great firewall or the Golden Shield Project is a technology that allows Chinese governmental agencies censoring the Internet and keeping it under control in the country. It has led to double standards. On the one hand, Chinese users (except those living in Hong Kong and Macao) are deprived from using such services as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Google Blogspot, WorldPress.com, New York Times, New York Times Chinese, Bloomberg, YouTube, Google, DuckDuckGo, Yahoo Hong Kong, Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox, Google play and other services.Â On the other hand, some of the worldwide popular social nets are replaced by some Chinese services. All your online activity is controlled by some government intelligence agencies there and your sensitive data can be used against your will, not to speak of all the possibilities an average Internet user is deprived of in China.
India: Online user right is impinged here no less than in China. The government has made all possible to commit control over its Internet users. There are also some blocked websites connecting to which you can be fined or even put into prison. The fine is not little for Indian citizens ($4.500).
UAE: It has been stated by the president of UAE that even proxy server and VPN usage are forbidden here. Fine amount is frightening for average Internet user (between $136.000 and $545 000). Of course, Internet censorship across its spectrum flourishes here.
the US and the EU countries:
You might have heard about the UKUSA alliance consisting of fourteen countries (â€˜eyesâ€™). The main aims of the alliance are gathering and analyzing intelligence and not spying on each other.
- five eyes: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, the USA;
- nine eyes: Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Norway;
- fourteen eyes: Belgium, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden.
The list of the countries following the censorship politics can be continued but an eventual result remains the same: Internet freedom, according to the statistics, is accessible to 30% Internet users and, probably, 29.9 % of them have taken some protective measures therefore getting the freedom.
Hacker attacks, breaches and malware:
Also, according to the statistics, the number of hacker attacks is growing each day. We are to show just a few of the most notorious cases.
In 2014 500 million Yahoo accounts underwent hacker attacks. Passwords, names and telephone numbers were intercepted and the breach has been unrepaired till now. World Press sites are under constant attacks not only because they have much interesting data stealing but also due to the fact that most of the software they use is out-of-date.
It has become known that all the T-Mobile information has been found the way to get access to by a teen named Jacob.
Even up-to-date technologies, such as Allo! messenger, are not without breaches. It is known to have bad encryption operation and saving messages by default even in incognito mode.
Google Internet Company as well as Facebook are known to present applications, which save some sensitive data on your activities including sharing the information with other applications belonged to the companies.
PokemonGO game demands access to some Gmail data while installing it on your device. What for? The developers have stated that the flaw will be fixed in a new version.
Even your fitness application can get access to your personal data and smart digital maps are managed to make your personal map â€˜as a matter of convenienceâ€™ for you work with the app.
After WhatsApp was bought by Facebook it began collecting data on the users and matching accounts with Facebook (BUT: German government, for example, has forbidden Facebook collecting data on German users).
The most notorious malware of today is a record-breaking DDoS, which can distantly subdue and control all smart devices (allowing Internet connection) with default names and passwords. The malware is known to be on the open Internet so any who wants can use it against vulnerabilities your smart gadgets have.
Moreover, we have nearly forgotten to mention that online identity thefts and computer fraudulence exceed the number of pocket thefts in a real life, which is especially noticeable in countries with advanced economy and high living standarts.
Thus it comes without saying that any user (even the most average one) should think about some defensive measures he/she can take for protecting the network. A virtual private network is considered as one of the well-targeted technologies against the threats and interests impairment we have mentioned. And you can see it yourself after you learn how it works.
How does a VPN work?
Virtual private network is designed for providing you with online security, privacy and anonymity. That means that a good VPN uses different strong VPN protocols, such as OpenVPN, PPTP, IPSec, SSL, to create a secure tunneling between your computer and a VPN server. When passing through the secure tunneling all your traffic is encrypted thus your network becomes private. Moreover your true IP address is changed* thus your network is anonymous. (*if to be more precise, you change your address independently when using a VPN and switching from one to another server).
But this is a formal variant of a VPN operation. There are many of the service nuances you should know about.
What are the main features of the best VPN?
Itâ€™s highly important for a VPN service to have multiple server locations. The more variants a VPN provides the more choices of virtual locations you have. This is especially important for those who travel a lot, because there are many countries with rough censorship politics and you may be deprived from necessary services you are used to at home country. But it is even better if the servers are held by a VPN independently without any third party participation in it, because it may affect your anonymity level a lot. Even if a VPN has declared to save no loggings and share no personal data, the third parties while owning the servers can trade-off the statement.
If you want to have private network you need to pay attention at the protocols used by a VPN. Different types of protocols are used for different purposes. The main of them are point-to-point tunneling protocol (PPTP), secure socket tunneling protocol (SSTP), layer 2 tunneling protocol (L2TP), IPSec protocol and some others. There are services that work on their own protocols too, which have been created for providing you with even more security.
A VPN should support multiple OSes or platforms for your convenience in operation. Having several devices a necessary level of protection should be held up for all of them, which means that a good VPN service is needed to be compatible with all the operation systems your devices use.
Unlimited bandwidth and speed:
Itâ€™s essential for a VPN to have a good speed performance and unlimited bandwidth. Itâ€™s not a secret that some VPNs can reduce your Internet speed but a qualitative VPN uses speed enhancements for its servers, which allow users watch any streaming content from any part of the world without any hits. Moreover, some irresponsible VPN providers can sell your bandwidth to a third party if needed, which means that a high-quality VPN provider should guarantee a strong protection of your privacy.
Trial version or money-back guarantee:
A trial version of a VPN is a free version of a service with paid content. Some of the trial versions can be used for 7 days some of them for 20 minutes only. So, if you are a skilled VPN user and you can see all the nuances of a VPN performance in twenty minutes, thatâ€™s your variant. But for more detailed testing you need as much time as possible to use the service all out.
Money-back guarantee is provided by most reliable services. If you want to be confident that your money hasnâ€™t been spent in vain, youâ€™d better choose a VPN that has such an option.
Some experts consider VPN service to be not 100% anonymous and this is partially true. In order to enhance the level of your anonymity you should choose the most anonymous payment methods. The checked variants for that are any crypto-currency (Bitcoin, for example), digital gift cards or cash payments, which can be made anonymously through a post order.
Professional technical support:
For simplifying your job it is necessary to center on the languages the service uses. Moreover, youâ€™d better pay attention to support team and comments on its job performance. There are VPNs that provide their customers with 24/7 online support on different languages, which is extremely convenient, because email support takes some more time.
What VPN add-ons are of actual use:
There are different additional facilities provided by various VPNs:
- Some VPNs develop their own protocols. For example, there are VPNs that use hybrid VPN, which combines smart DNS (anonymity enhancement) and a VPN in it and provides encryption and high speed performance avoiding any firewalls.
- Different sort of speed enhancement apps allow watching any streaming content smoothly.
- Personal IP and servers are for those who are skilled in the question of a VPN usage and looks for even more security for their business, for instance.
- Add-blockers and built-in antiviruses and many other add-ons including extensions for browsers can be suggested by this or that VPN service.
The most popular VPNs review:
ExpressVPN is number one service on the market today for many reasons.
|Server locations:||The provider is based in British Virgin Islands and has established a good reputation. ExpressVPN holds more than one thousand servers (the number is still growing) in eighty seven countries.|
|Strong encryption:||The provider is based in British Virgin Islands and has established a good reputation. ExpressVPN holds more than one thousand servers (the number is still growing) in eighty seven countries.|
|Platforms support:||It is compatible with all imaginable OSES, such as Mac OS, Windows, Android, iPhone, iOS, Linux.|
|Unlimited bandwidth and speed:||Unlimited bandwidth and speed and server switches are provided by ExpressVPN.|
|Trial version or money-back guarantee:||30 days money-back guarantee.|
|Payment methods:||It accepts such payment methods as credit cards, PayPal, Bitcoin, and some others including gift cards.|
|Professional technical support:||24/7 online support and email assistance.|
NordVPN is another qualitative up-to-date VPN service.
|Server locations:||It holds more than five hundred servers all over the globe (52 countries). Thatâ€™s pretty enough to feel you are a cosmopolite.|
|Strong encryption:||It provides double encryption. All the servers support PPTP, L2TP, OpenVPN protocols and also proxy and Socks 5.|
|Platforms support:||It is compatible with Mac OS, Windows, Android, iOS, Linux.|
|Unlimited bandwidth and speed:||Unlimited bandwidth and speed are provided by NordVPN.|
|Trial version or money-back guarantee:||30 days money-back guarantee.|
|Payment methods:||Credit cards, PayPal, Bitcoin, and some others payment methods are accepted by the provider.|
|Professional technical support:||24/7 online support and email assistance.|
|Server locations:||Safer VPN possesses 400+ servers in 30 countries and the number of servers is being grown.|
|Strong encryption:||Top-of-the-line protocols as well as 256-bit encryption are used for providing security with Safer VPN.|
|Platforms support:||Such OSES as Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and Chrome are compatible.|
|Unlimited bandwidth and speed:||Unlimited location switches, speed and bandwidth are presented by the VPN provider.|
|Trial version or money-back guarantee:||140-day money back guarantee.|
|Payment methods:||Credit cards, PayPal, Bitcoin and some others are accepted by Safer VPN.|
|Professional technical support:||24/7 online live chat and email support.|
|Server locations:||Pure VPN has 500+ servers in 180 locations in 141 countries and it cooperates with no third parties.|
|Strong encryption:||256-data encryption and multiple protocols are used by Pure VPN.|
|Platforms support:||The platforms include Windows, Mac, iOS, Linux and Android.|
|Unlimited bandwidth and speed:||Unlimited data transfer is provided by the service.|
|Trial version or money-back guarantee:||A trial version and 7-day money back guarantee can be used by a customer.|
|Payment methods:||Credit cards, gift cards, PayPal, Alipay, Cashu and others are presented on the official website.|
|Professional technical support:||24/7/365 online live chat support.|
How to install a VPN app:
Having decided on the VPN you have to make sure that the service doesnâ€™t store any logging data and there havenâ€™t been any cases when the VPN provider sold any customerâ€™s data to a third party. If there is no such information on the official site you need to ask the support team to give you this data.
After all the precautions have been taken you should choose the most anonymous payment method. Crypto-currency, digital gift cards and some cash payments are considered to be the most anonymous by online security experts. These payment methods are used to enhance the level of your further anonymity while working with the service.
Having entered the official VPNâ€™s website and filled in your email and password and chosen the appropriate package, you will be sent a personal code after having paid for a subscription. Donâ€™t forget about trial version and money-back guarantee.
When all the actions have been taken by you the app can be downloaded and installed and the VPN service can be used for your online security, privacy and anonymity.
How to use a VPN:
Having installed a VPN app and got a personal code you can start using a VPN. A VPN server location should be chosen by you considering the matter of its usage. For example, if you are from the US and have gone to China for business, the US virtual location should be chosen by you to get access to all the Internet resources you use at home.
If you want to watch a football match or fights tournament you should know what channels are to broadcast it in order to select a right virtual location and get access to the match or fight.
Itâ€™s highly important to install the VPN app you have chosen on all your usable devices to have a secure access to the Internet from any Wi-Fi hotspot. Some VPNs have extra protocols for mobile phones for even more secure network from a public connection.
Some additional extensions that are provided by the service you have chosen can be set up by you according to the instructions of the VPN. Also you can get a professional online support from the technical group if any troubles appear.
- Privacy â€” here is a selective expression of oneself when all the personal data is shut off from any uncontrolled online interference.
- Security â€” here is an online harm resistance that is applied to any vulnerabilities (data, programs, accounts, devices etc.).
- Anonymity â€” here is a â€˜namelessâ€™ online activity undertaken by a user, which name remains unknown.
- Protocol â€” here is a cryptographic protocol used for online data encryption.
- Key â€” here is an encryption key with the help of which a computer is demonstrated what computations should be performed on data for data encryption or decryption.
- Network â€” here is a data network allowing users to share different data.
- VPN add-ons â€” special extensions provided by different VPN services or additional possibilities one can use for operation enhancement.
- Bandwidth â€” here is a bit-rate of available traffic capacity in a second (bit/sec).
P.S. Is it legal to use a VPN?
A VPN is frequently used by some people for getting access to geo-restricted websites and resources. The rest use a VPN service for online confidentiality, firewall avoiding, a secure corporation network access and for a true IP address masking.
So, is it legal to use a VPN? Generally speaking, it is absolutely legal to use a VPN service. VPN service is publicly available on the market and presented by many providers. It depends on users why they need the service and there some questions can come up. A VPN can be compared to a firearm. On the one side, it is permitted in aid of self-defense, provided that you have a possession license and this case is considered to be legal. On the other side, the weapon can be used for gun violence, which is criminal.
If talking about copyright piracy, there is the only law in the sphere named DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act), which was accepted by Bill Clinton in 1998. The law is imposed only on the territory of the US and doesnâ€™t apply to other countries. It doesnâ€™t mean that copyright piracy is legal but it makes it difficult for American product right owners to withstand piracy committing in other countries.
Apart from such countries as Iran and UAE where VPN usage is forbidden by law (but it is even more popular in those countries), a VPN usage is absolutely legal. It is all to your conscience what for you are going to use the service. As well as with a firearm, you can shoot but in appropriate cases.
Taking into account the fact that government intelligence agencies commit eavesdropping over its Internet users, which is considered to be illegal by security experts and lawyers, it becomes obvious that an average user can and should subscribe to a VPN service. The number of service users is being grown each day. The largest amount of involved users is individuals who want to protect their online life. So, the question of VPN legacy is puzzling and it will definitely remain unsolved for a long time period.