5 Minute HelpDesk – What is a VPN and Why Should I Use One?
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) allows you to transmit data safely and anonymously. It is no longer just a way for corporates to connect into the network. VPNs are now increasingly used by individuals and small businesses to protect their data from unauthorised access. How does it do that? Our IT expert team from Perth tells you what a VPN is and why you should use one.
What is a VPN and how does it work?
As the name suggests, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) creates a private network from a public network connection. This is an encrypted connection that gives you online privacy and anonymity.
A VPN connects your device to a remote server through an encrypted connection. Your data is secured and remains private as it travels through this encrypted tunnel. Your traffic will appear as if it is coming from the server’s IP address. This helps to keep your location and identity anonymous, and the data safe from prying eyes.
Why should you use a Virtual Private Network?
Keep your data secured while remote working
An employee can work remotely and safely connect to the business network without compromising security. Since the data transfer is encrypted, your data is safe from unauthorised access.
Encrypts all your online activity with strong encryption measures. So, if a cybercriminal does manage to access data, he will not be able to decode it.
Prevents tracking by websites
Web browsers and your internet service provided can track and even save your browsing history. You may then be targeted by ads based on your internet activities. Your browsing history can also be sold, affecting your privacy.
Stream shows of your choice from anywhere
Some streaming services may be location-specific. A Virtual Private Network lets you connect to a server in the region of your choice and watch your favourite shows uninterrupted.
Use public Wi-Fi securely
Public Wi-Fi is highly risky because they are mostly free, and the security standards cannot be controlled. Using a VPN allows you to access the internet with public Wi-Fi safely. Even if a hacker intercepts your data, encryption ensures that your data cannot be read or used.
Protect yourself against identity theft
Cyberthieves access your personal information and commit crimes or operate unauthorised accounts in your home. VPN masks your IP and location, makes your online activity anonymous, and protects your data.
Avoid speed throttling
Since you will be accessing the VPN remote server, you can avoid speed throttling by your ISP. You can easily overcome any bandwidth restrictions by your ISP.
What to look for while choosing a Virtual Private Network
The VPN you choose will depend on your requirements. Here are a few broad points on what to look for while choosing a VPN.
Commitment to privacy – The VPN provider should have a no-log policy, which means they should not track your browsing history.
Server presence – VPNs are highly popular; it’s reasonable to expect a large number of servers spread across countries. High server numbers ensure speed; servers in several countries provide greater flexibility.
Data limits – Ensure that the VPN provider does not have any bandwidth restrictions. Unlimited data is one of the main reasons that many people opt for it.
No. of devices – If you need VPN on more than one device, check if the VPN allows for concurrent connections. Also, depending on your needs, you may want to check if the VPN can provide different exit points for multiple devices.
Mobile VPN – Like most users, if you use your mobile to browse or download, look for a VPN that provides mobile connectivity.
Ensure Kill Switch tool – If the VPN connection goes down for any reason, your device should not default to the open internet connection. The Kill Switch system will automatically disconnect your device from the open connection in case of a connectivity failure.
Price – There are free VPN services. But they may not be as anonymous or secure as the paid ones. They may have data limitations and may sell your browsing online activity history to third parties. Some services provide free trials for a month with almost all the facilities like the paid ones. Your payment details may be stored, so ensure that you disconnect after the trial period. Otherwise, you may end up being charged for usage.
Encryption – Process of converting data into code to prevent unauthorised access.
IP address – Internet Protocol address. A number that identifies a specific computer or computer network.
Streaming – the process of playing media content (commonly audio and video) in real time – without having to download it first.