What is a VPN?
A VPN is considered as the best online security tool to deal with the problems of cybercrimes and online surveillance by the governments and their spy agencies. With minimum VPN encryption of 128-bit and maximum of 2048-bit, all your data remains safe from all the evils of cyber world.
A VPN protects you on two levels, first by cloaking your data transmission on the internet through VPN encryption and then tunneling all your data through a VPN server. The resultant network is an impenetrable network connection that gives you a barrage of benefits to cater to your internet needs.
How Does a VPN Work?
Utilizing a VPN connects you to a third-party that functions as an intermediary channel between you and the internet. The VPN encryption takes place when all the data that you send/receive is utilized by protocols (data sharing methodologies designed specifically to share data securely), and serve as a barrier in between you and the internet.
The result: VPN encryption keeps your data safe, while the data tunnel created (due to the third-party’s presence in the middle) keeps you virtually invisible from the rest of the internet – and yet fully connected.
Data is transported through VPN tunnels by using headers. A header is nothing more than a piece of information that is meant to identify the start and end points of a data packet that has been encapsulated at the start of its transmission. These packets are encrypted by VPN so that they become indecipherable to any third parties that may look to intercept them but do not have the encryption keys necessary to decipher the data.
What Makes a Good VPN Provider?
A VPN connection is only as good as the server spread it runs through and the VPN protocols it offers. These are the fundamental factors that constitute a secure VPN service provider. Second in priority is the customer support infrastructure that the VPN service provider offers, finally followed by the pricing plan at the end. Believe me when I say, that you do not want to save money at the cost of your online security. The cybercrimes emptying bank accounts these days will send shivers down your spine!
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Choose the best VPN for Privacy Wisely
Look up individual and corporate pricing plans. Compare reviews of pricing plans and see if the VPN service provider frequently offers discounts. Check to see if there is a free trial available and look up the VPN service provider’s refund policy while you’re at it.
While checking the pricing plans, also take a look at the supported protocols and identify the protocols offered in different pricing plans. Poke around to check if the VPN service is providing adequate VPN encryption.
Don’t get caught up in any additional services provided by the VPN provider if they don’t contribute/influence the VPN service directly. Add-ons, if provided, are a different thing but you might have to read a few detailed VPN reviews before you manage to get your hands on such inside information.
Payment methods need to be secure and reliable. In this regard, it usually helps if the payment method offered is from a reliable third party. You will see that almost all VPN service providers offer PayPal and accept Credit Cards.
Make sure that the operating system you are using on your machine is supported and that there is a client available for your smart-phone platform as well. It will help you get the most from your VPN subscription. This is the point where you will need to check if your VPN would work for devices as well.
For instance: will you use it on your router? Will you use it on your phone? Will you use it on your Xbox? Once you have decided the scope of your VPN use, look for the VPN service provider’s device/platform compatibility. Compatibility is a critical factor but make sure you give consideration to the software support provided by the VPN service provider. Check if tutorials are provided for each of the supported device/platform.
Advantages of VPN
Without a VPN, you are at the mercy of your ISP (be it your home network or a public Wi-Fi), your ISP is not obligated to provide you any services other than connecting you to your internet. The ISPs can easily run a check on all your activities and only way to fool them into thinking that you don’t exist on the virtual world is to use a secure VPN service.
You can always install firewalls and antivirus software but that will only secure your system – and cybercriminals know that, which is why they target you once your data is out of your safe-zone. This means you need to secure your data during the sending/receiving transmission. There are countless reasons I can give you to justify your need for the best VPN for privacy, but in a nutshell:
- Data Encryption ensures confidentiality
- Data packet Authentication ensures data integrity
- Data Traffic Tunneling ensures anonymity
- Data routing ensures accessibility to blocked websites and other services
- Just about every second IT management/regulatory body recommends VPN for security
How does a VPN improve your Online Security?
Most of the internet users fail to address the privacy issues at the right time. They only react to such issues once they have already fallen prey to cybercrimes like hacking etc. While many people argue that complete online security is just a myth, there is absolutely no ground evidence on which they make such claims.
There are many VPN providers that claim to provide the best online security to their users. How do these VPN services do that? Well, they tunnel your traffic through the below mentioned (described in detail) protocols and connect you to IP addresses that are virtually invisible to hackers, snoopers and the ISPs.
Most of the users are victimized because of their lack of understanding of this delicate service, which is known as VPN. A VPN is thought to be the best tool to increase your privacy and to fend off the threats of cybercrimes.
The best VPNs for privacy make sure they are encrypting your data at the right pace to keep it safe from the tyranny of the cybercriminals. The secure VPN providers give you access to every website on the internet and make sure you don’t end up becoming a victim of any malware on the internet.
Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol
The first protocol you will come across when you start looking up VPN protocols is the PPTP protocol. The PPTP protocol was designed by Microsoft and uses Point to Point Protocol for authentication. The VPN encryption takes place through ECP and Generic Routing Encapsulation packets are used for multiprotocol encapsulation. The resultant tunnel created becomes virtually invisible to applications.
The Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) is the most commonly used protocol because the VPN speed is much better when it’s connected on PPTP. It is one of the oldest VPN protocols but not very secure if you compare it to its succeeding protocols. These characteristics make it ideal for regular internet activity.
The protocol is extremely device friendly and therefore frequently available for use on a large number of devices. PPTP uses IP datagrams to encapsulate PPP data frames and ensures tunnel management via the establishment of a TCP connection. Data is tunneled by using a modified version of Generic Routing Encapsulation, resulting in the following PPTP packet data form:
Layer Two Tunneling Protocol
The second most popular protocol is the Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP). The L2TP VPN protocol is multiprotocol in the fact that it enables PPP tunneling to be carried out over a variety of packed network types.
Unlike the PPTP protocol, the L2TP not only carries out user authentication, but also tunnel authentication. The fact that L2TP is run over UDP/IP allows L2TP tunnels to get through firewalls but becomes vulnerable to attacks unless combined with IPSec.
Using IPSec adds an element of security at the network connection’s IP layer, which is why you will often see VPN service providers provide L2TP/IPSec instead of offering L2TP alone. The Layer Two Tunneling Protocol (L2TP) is a security intensive protocol and is relatively slower than the PPTP protocol for the same reason. It encapsulates data packets twice, making your data transmission virtually impossible to break-into. However, the added data encapsulation makes the protocol somewhat slow and therefore not ideally suited for data-intensive internet sessions (like streaming or gaming). The increased security makes the protocol great for internet sessions involving transactions.
Remember that L2TP and L2TP/IPSec is the same thing. IPSec is merely the VPN encryption service that the L2TP protocol uses.
Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol
PPTP and L2TP protocols are known to conflict with firewall, web-proxies and NATs unless firewalls are specifically configured to avoid losing data packets during data transmission.
The solution to the limitations in PPTP and L2TP protocols can be found in the SSTP protocol. The SSTP protocol is essentially a combination of HTTP and SSL (HTTP over SSL). What makes SSTP appealing is that it has extensive built-in support in Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista Service Pack 1.
This is a disadvantage at the same time since other platforms have not yet integrated support for SSTP. Since SSTP uses the SSL channel, IP datagrams are used to encapsulate PPP frames and tunnel management is carried out via a TCP connection. The SSTP data frame exists in the following form:
OpenVPN is the maverick of the VPN protocol world. This means that while PPTP, L2TP and SSTP are essentially managed by a regulatory authority, OpenVPN remains unleashed. The advantage is that it can be used on just about any device and platform, but the disadvantage is that it tends to come with a “some assembly required” tag.
Unlike other protocols, OpenVPN utilizes the packet data approach in an unorthodox way by splitting packets into two parts. The first part contains the packet header while the second part contains the data payload header. As a result, the OpenVPN packet structure looks somewhat like this:
A tunnel is an internet infrastructure used to carry out data sending/receiving over the network. The very presence of a tunnel causes data to be encapsulated under a header. This means that data does not travel through a tunnel in its original form. Once the encapsulated data packets have reached the destined end-point tunnel, they are de-capsulated.
In order for a tunneling connection to take place, the client and server must be in agreement over the kind of tunneling protocol to be used. PPTP uses Layer 2 tunneling protocol on the data-link layer. Data is transmitted in the form of frames and encapsulation is carried out in PPP frames. This is how a PPTP packet containing user data is arranged.
On its own, L2TP functions on the same tunneling protocol as PPTP. However, when combined with IPSec, L2TP functions on Layer 3 tunneling protocol and takes effect on the Network layer. This is how a L2TP packet containing user data is arranged when used with IPSec.
VPN Servers Guarantee Uninterrupted Accessibility
There are countless reasons you should consider about getting a secure VPN connection. It provides you with countless benefits. But perhaps the most effective benefit of all is accessibility. You see, contrary to popular belief, the internet is not free.
There are Geo-IP restrictions on internet content that tend to restrict access unless you belong to a specific region. Using a secure VPN not only keeps you safe but also switches your IP address to one region in which the VPN server is located.
Using an encrypted VPN switches your IP address to that in which the VPN server is located. So if you are accessing a website that only allows access to US based IPs, all you need to do is to select a VPN server located in the US and you are in. That means you can access Hulu, Netflix, BBC iPlayer and just about any website that dares to block access for you.
VPN for Mobile
Believe it or not, it has become extremely important to protect our mobile devices in these chaotic times. The stats of last three years reveal that the cybercrimes have only increased. And the online cyber surveillance also does not help the cause.
Therefore, it is recommended to every smartphone user to install a VPN on mobile because all your data might be stolen if you accidentally tap or download a malicious malware in your mobile phones. The best VPN for privacy ensures you get the best VPN encryption to keep your data safe.
Installing a secure VPN on mobile enhances your device’s privacy and plays an important role in guarding your data. Stronger encryption a VPN provides, more protected your data will be from the cybercriminals. Recent malware attacks on Android and iPhones suggest that half the users are unaware of the threats that are constantly trying to steal all their data from their mobile phones.
VPN for Devices
As discussed above, before you make any decision to buy a VPN service, you should double-check how many devices can be connected to it and how many devices will support the VPN client? We have already talked about how the cybercrimes are always going up and how it is important to get a secure VPN for improved security.
Most of the VPN services are highly compatible with all the devices (including but not limited to) Windows, Linux, Mac, iPhones, iPads, Android Tabs, Smartphones, SmartTVs, Routers and Gaming Consoles. It is important to see how many devices your VPN provider supports because if it falls behind in the compatibility area, chances are, its services won’t also be good enough.
VPN for Gaming
If you are an online gamer, then you must have faced the latency issues at some stage. A gaming VPN can come very handy if you experience these lag issues all the time. It allows you to connect to the native region of the server and works wonders in reducing the ping to provide you the best experience.
Since we are talking about the online gaming, a VPN can also prevent the DDoS attacks and other hack attacks on your gaming consoles. The VPNs for gaming are absolutely essential for those who are concerned about the privacy of their devices.
While using the secure VPN for gaming, the users are usually concerned about their connection speeds. We would love to burst your bubble of myth, but a VPN does not have a direct impact on your connection speed, unless the original speed of your connection is absolutely awful.
When you set out to learn more about a VPN, you will come across some material detailing a VPN over a home-office network. This is the second of the two existing kinds of VPNs – something like Remote Access to let you access your workplace computer system from your home. That is NOT the kind of VPN you are looking for.
You are looking for a VPN service provider that can offer you the security, anonymity and accessibility you need. The VPN industry is currently booming as the demand for VPNs continues to rise in the face of increasingly devastating cybercrime trends.
Subscribing to a VPN service provider is easy and gives you the comfort of knowing that all you have to do is log-on and you will be on your way without having to waste time configuring settings and tweaking features. It will take you some time before you become accustomed to VPNs, but you will eventually love the way a VPN guarantees uninterrupted accessibility, impenetrable security and unparalleled online safety.
A little bit of browsing around will be more than sufficient to show you that online security issues have the international internet-using community on edge – and a VPN is one of the last few options remaining to counter these threats to security and privacy.