All About VPNs

1. What is a VPN?

VPN stands for virtual private network;
private connection between people and devices over the Internet;
uses encryption technology to recreate the security of a private network and connect devices that are not in the same location.

2. VPNs safeguard your privacy a few different ways;

Hide your identity using encryption to conceal your actual IP address (is a numerical label assigned to each device connected to a computer network that uses the Internet Protocol for communication).
Spoof your location by accessing the Internet using servers around the world;
Mask your online activity by making it difficult to track you.

3. Can use a VPN to;

Stay safe while using public Wi-Fi.
Stay safe while peer-to-peer (P2P) gaming or file sharing.
Stop nosey sites from tracking you.
Bypass the Internet censorship in your country.
Speak out safely as a journalist or political dissident in a repressive country.
Watch streaming video content from another country.

4. Most consumer-level VPNs are actually VPN services, meaning;

VPN provider is responsible for the servers, the encryption, and the user authentication;
Customer simply pays a subscription fee to use the VPN service.

5. Constraints;

Because VPNs can be used to circumvent state-sponsored Internet censorship, the legality of VPN use varies;
In some countries like Russia, for example, unrestricted VPNs are outright illegal;
Whereas in China, VPNs are blocked but not necessarily illegal.

6. Unexpected Dangers;

Using a VPN might make you an unintended criminal - cybercriminals like using VPNs so they can hide the IP address being used to control a botnet during a DDoS attack OR download copyrighted/illegal content without catching the attention of Internet service providers (ISPs) or law enforcement;
A suspicious VPN advertised as “the only free VPN that doesn’t keep logs.” Blocked by security software, attempting to download the compromised VPN victims with a keylogger;
VPNs encrypt your data and hide your location and identity, but they don’t protect you from viruses, ransomware, and other forms of malware, including spyware and keyloggers;
Using a VPN, you still need a cybersecurity program.

7. Safety Benefits. VPN makes going online safer and more private;

by creating a digital middleman between your device and the Internet;
through the use of a VPN, people can’t figure out;
who you are;
where you are; or
what you’re looking at.

8. How does a VPN work?

Your online privacy protected from everyday attacks by companies and organisations hungry for our data (DATA IS KING! i.e. your buying habits, your usage/consumption habits, are you home? Are you planning a holiday?);
VPN can be considered as private tunnel to securely send data;
Can connect to several parties simultaneously;
Before users can access the tunnel, the VPN first confirms both parties are who they say they are via username and password and if all parties pass the ID check, they’re allowed to use the VPN;
VPNs encrypt any data going into the tunnel and decrypt it when it leaves using encryption keys.

9. Encryption Keys

Two types - symmetric and public;
Symmetric keys - everyone has the same key. c.f. everyone having the same password. Danger if password discovered as then everyone’s security is compromised;
Hence public keys. Everyone has one, however, each public key has a paired, private key (never shared) on the receiving end.
Only your computer knows it and uses it to decipher incoming messages. Therefore, it doesn’t matter if your public key is compromised since the underlying private key is still secure.

10. Types of VPNs

Two basic VPN types: remote access and site-to-site;
Remote access VPN. Allows someone outside a given network (they’re on a business trip or working from home) to connect and access resources securely on that network;
Site-to-site VPN. Conversely, a site-to-site VPN is typically used by companies and organisations with multiple offices spread across locations around the country or around the world to connect and share data securely.

11. Additional types of VPN.

At the consumer level, there are two additional types of VPN: router VPNs and VPN services
Router VPNs. Any device connected to your home network is automatically protected by the router VPN—even devices that don’t support VPNs natively (e.g. Xbox and PlayStation). The only problem with router VPNs is that they’re difficult to setup;
VPN services are what people refer to when speaking of VPN;
You don’t have to own, setup, or maintain anything;
the VPN service is responsible for the servers, the encryption, and the user authentication.\;
Customers need only install the VPN service provider’s software on their device, enabling them to log in to the VPN service’s servers. VPNs services are available for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and Chromebook etc.

12. Getting started with VPN. 4 quick tips to get you started;

  1. Do your research;
    Sometimes VPNs are used by cybercriminals to track your activity - precisely what you’re trying to avoid. Due diligence required. Read the reviews (on a trustworthy review site) Stick with a trusted vendor within cybersecurity.
  2. Go with a trusted name in cybersecurity;
    e.g., one that uses stealthy VPN tunnelling technology to safeguard your personal info and help you stay anonymous while using the web.
  3. Avoid free VPNs;
    Legitimate VPNs typically cost money while free VPNs exist for criminals who don’t want to leave a paper trail.
  4. Decide if you need P2P and BitTorrent*

*BitTorrent: Allows for large files that have been broken up into parts to be transmitted more quickly. The parts can be stored on different computers which can allow for a greater numbers of users to download the same file parts simultaneously. The parts are then combined on the users computer into a single file.


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