A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a group of devices or networks linked together over a public network (i.e. the internet).
For businesses, this can be very useful when it is necessary to connect remote datacenters. For private individuals, VPNs can help with connecting to network resources despite not being on the same local area network (LAN) and securing and encrypting communication when using an untrusted public network.
You connect to a Virtual Private Network by launching a VPN client on your computer. This can also occur by clicking links on particular websites. You then log in with your personal information and your computer exchanges security keys with the client’s server. If and when both the computer and the server have proven to be authentic, you are free to browse the internet and all of your communication will be encrypted and secured from eavesdropping.
VPNs can help to defend you against ARP (Address Resolution Protocol) spoofing and other common hacking methods that are easily performed given a victim’s use of a publicly accessible network. They also allow users to spoof their physical location; the individual’s IP address is replaced by that of the VPN provider.
Spoofing your location can help you to access the networks you need despite being at home or traveling. This alone makes VPNs commonly used among students and corporate workers.
Illegal downloaders also appreciate the anonymity that VPNs have to offer. Companies can’t know the IP address of the device that is downloading their intellectual property, so the internet pirate is virtually home free.
Security advocates enjoy the privacy that encrypted communication bestows upon the VPN user.
Finally, travelers or people with global interest have plenty to gain from VPNs. If you want to watch absolutely any sporting event or TV show as it first airs, chances are you’re going to need a VPN to make it happen. VPNs also help you to listen to location-restricted streaming internet radio or access a web service that is restricted to a specific country or region.
Which VPNs are Good VPNs?
If any of that sounds appealing to you, your next step will be to pick a one VPN among the numerous providers vying for your interest. There are enough competitors out there that there’s likely to be a service tailored for people like you, whether that means people that expect to hardly use it, to use it for heavy downloading, or whatever else fits.
There are several different types of VPN, but SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is the most commonly used and does not require the installation of specialized client software on the end-user’s computer.
The server’s location is also worth considering depending on what you plan on using the VPN for. If you’re a constant traveler but want to watch whatever is on live TV in your home country of Austria, you’re going to want to make sure that your VPN Service provider has servers in Austria that you can opt into. If you’re looking for a VPN that can help shield you from state-sponsored snooping, you’re going to want to pick a service that operates from outside your country (though this doesn’t always guarantee the privacy of your data).
Finally, know that if you use a free service, your activities are likely to be logged somewhat to enable advertisements to be tailored to your browsing history. If that would totally defeat the purpose of you opting into a VPN service, it’s going to be worth it to you to pay a little extra. Just do your research so you know that you don’t end up paying to be logged anyway- plenty of paid services do it.