What are VPNs?

A virtual private network is a service that adds another layer of security to you when you are browsing the internet, by directing your connection through a server and subsequently hide what you are doing on the internet. There are many useful reasons to having a VPN some are encrypting your data transfers when you are transferring data over a public Wi-Fi. This feature is incredibly helpful in terms of adding another layer of protection when you are online. Another reason to have a VPN is you are able to hide your IP address as well as change your IP address which could protect you against cybercrimes. You can also mask your location when using a VPN to protect your identity and you can also access blocked websites by the government with a VPN. There are plenty of helpful things that VPNs can do.

How did VPNs become such popular service? Since the internet has been around people have been trying to create ways that they would be more secure while surfing the web. The origin of the VPN began in 1996 when a Microsoft employee created PPTP or (point-to-point tunneling protocol). PPTP had a much more secure connection between the computer and the interne and this protocol was able to set the ground work for modern VPNs. Once the internet became more popular the better security people needed with anti-virus software and firewalls which could help protect the computer, but there needed to be a more secure connection. Then VPNs were able to provide a more secure connection over the internet and were mainly used with businesses. Once VPNs became more accessible individuals started using them to protect themselves against any unsecure connections while they were using the internet. Which then caused many companies to start developing their own VPNs to put them out onto the marketplace for people to use.

When you do not use a VPN, anyone can look at the data that you are sending and could find some sensitive information from the data that you send out on the internet. While when you use a VPN the it can encrypt your data before you transfer your data so that if someone were to intercept the data, they would not be able to figure out what it is exactly. The VPN will also be able to disguise your location because all the online destination sees is that your data is coming from a VPN server and the location of the sever. This is imperative because the VPN is hiding your location so that an attacker would not be able to find out who you are and where your location is.

There are roughly five common protocols that are used to create VPN protocols. The first one is OpenVPN this is considered the best protocol out of the five most common ones. This protocol is based on SSL/TLS and this protocol is an open source project which is great because that means that it is constantly being worked on and updated by many developers. OpenVPN’s protocol creates a secure connection by using keys that are only known by the people that are involved in the transmission and it uses the keys when transferring the data to keep it secure. Another common protocol for VPNs is L2TP/IPsec this protocol uses keys to establish that connection is safe on both sides. Apparently, this protocol is not the safest as there have been some reports that some people have been able to break the protocol during the transmission of data. PPTP is the protocol that started the ground work for modern VPNs. This protocol creates a connection to a server and transmits all online data and secures the data with an encryption at the same time. Although this protocol is known as the weakest of the five and has plenty of security vulnerabilities. Another common protocol is SSTP and creates a connection with SSL/TLS encryption. The way that this protocol encrypts data is by using symmetric key cryptography, so that the only people that decrypt the data are the people that are transferring the data between one another. A great protocol called IKEv2 is another VPN protocol that utilizes server certificate authentication. By doing this it makes it so that no action will be performed until the server determines the identity of the person making the request.

A VPN is very important when trying to protect yourself when you are using the internet. It helps hide your IP address as well as your current location by having everything go through the VPN server. A VPN can help keep your data secure through a more sophisticated encryption method. VPNs have been around since the start of the internet and are as important to security online as having a firewall and anti-virus software. A VPN can even help you access websites that are not allowed in your country if your government is trying to hide certain content from the general populace.  Having a virtual private network adds another layer of security when you are using the internet and can certainly protect you from being the victim of a cybercrime, of course depending on which VPN protocol you have.