The internet is a vast space with billions of people exchanging data simultaneously. Do you want that extra security when you are browsing through the net? Or you want to keep your information a little bit more private? Now, you might be wondering, there are billions of people online at the same time, why would they want to steal my information or data. With the increasing level of cyber crimes, you might just need that extra security, to feel safe.
There are plenty of ways you can protect your information or data, but using VPN is one of the best ways to go about it.
WHAT IS A VPN?
A VPN or better yet, a Virtual Private Network is a secure connection that is placed over a public network, for example, a privately-owned network or the internet. It adds that needed extra layer of privacy or security to your online activities.
What does a VPN do? It encrypts your computer’s internet connection, allowing you to access the net privately without being scared of getting attacked by hackers.
As a result of the high cost of using dedicated private lines between business networks, the concept of VPN technology was fully embraced by government agencies, large corporations, and educational institutions that were looking for a means of reducing the cost of them securing communications between their networks. At a significantly reduced cost, VPN enables businesses effectively use the internet to securely carry data between their networks.
VPN is not restricted to just businesses, as private individuals can also use it to access the internet when are they are on the same LAN, or Local Area Network, or if they are looking for an alternative way to encrypt and secure their data when online. Gaining access to a VPN usually requires authorisation by means of a unique username and password.
BENEFITS OF A VPN
Are a student or worker? Do you download regularly? Do you travel regularly? Or is Security and privacy of utmost importance to you? Then you stand to benefit a lot from using a VPN.
VPN securely encrypts your information as it moves to and from your computer. Therefore, a VPN can do the following:
- Assist you in evading censorship by the government or ISP.
- Maintain your privacy.
- Give you access to services that are limited by your geographical location.
- Protect you from hackers.
- Help you safely download files via P2P (Peer-to-Peer) file sharing networks.
WHAT IS A PROTOCOL?
Have you ever wondered how computers communicate? The answer is “Protocol”. Protocol is a set of rules which computers use in communicating with each other. It decides what part of the conversation comes and at which time. It also says how to terminate the communication. There are different types of protocol such as the Hypertext Transfer Protocol or HTTP, Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), File Transfer Protocol (FTP), Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), Internet Protocol (IP), Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP), and the Ripple or Payment Protocol (XRP).
Therefore, a VPN protocol can be referred to as a set of mechanisms used to communicate a secure and encrypted connection between two computers.
TYPES OF VPN PROTOCOLS
A couple of VPN protocols are supported by commercial VPN servers, with each have a different level of security. Some of these VPN protocols are PPTP, L2TP/IPsec, IKEv2, Open VPN, and SSTP.
Point-to-Point Tunnelling Protocol or PPTP encapsulates a data pocket by creating a tunnel. It uses a Point-to-Point, or PPP, kind of protocol to secure and encrypt data that is been transported between connections. Since the time of Windows 95, PPTP has been one of the most widely used VPN protocol. Mac and Linux also support the PPTP.
Now, what are the PROs and CONs that are attached to using a PPTP?
- Easy Setup
- Just about all platforms are client built in
- Has been compromised by the NSA
- Can easily be blocked
- Highly insecure
IPsec or Internet Protocol security is what secures communication on the internet across an IP network. Layer 2 Tunnelling Protocol or L2TP is a form of tunnelling protocol that is often combined with another VPN protocol, such as IP security, in order to produce a secure VPN connection. It does this by creating a tunnel between two L2TP connection points, while the IP security protocol handles the encryption of the data and also secures the communication transport through the tunnel.
L2TP does not provide any form of confidentiality or encryption to the traffic that passes through it; this is why it is usually incorporated with the IP security authentication suite.
- Considered secure to some extent.
- Can be easily setup.
- To some level, it is faster than an OpenVPN.
- Can be used on all modern platforms.
- Though not yet proven, it might have be compromised by the NSA
- Has bad implementation
- Might have been intentionally weakened by the NSA
- Struggles with restrictive firewalls
Jointly developed by Cisco and Microsoft, IKEv2 or Internet Key Exchange is supported by Windows 7+, iOS devices, and Blackberry.
On its own, IKEv2 is just a tunnelling protocol, but when paired with IPsec, which is an authentication suite, it becomes a VPN protocol, hence why it is sometimes described as IKEv2/IPsec. It is a great choice for mobile device users that regularly switch between mobile connections and home Wi-Fi.
- High speed
- It is stable
- If AES is used, it is secure.
- Easy setup
- Supported on Blackberry Smartphone
- Not supported on many modern platforms
- It only trusts implementations by open source
- At the server-end, implementation of IKEv2 is sometimes tricky, which could lead to issues developing.
Coupled with an algorithm of other technologies, OpenVPN uses the TLS protocols and SSL library to produce a reliable and strong VPN solution. For this reason, it has become the industry standard VPN protocol that is being used by many commercial VPN services.
- If PFS is used, it is very secure
- It is highly configurable
- It uses an open source technology
- Can easily bypass firewalls
- It requires a third party software
Offering similar advantages to an OpenVPN, SSTP is a form of encryption that makes use of SS Library 3.0. With it being a proprietary standard owned by Microsoft, the public does not have access for scrutiny.
- Highly secure
- It has been totally integrated into Windows
- Supported by Microsoft
- Can easily bypass most firewalls
- It is a proprietary standard that is owned by Microsoft
HOW TO CHOOSE A VPN PROTOCOL
Not all VPNs are designed equal, so when choosing a VPN, the first thing to consider is what you plan on using the VPN for. Some other things to look out for are:
- Availability on various devices
- Number of locations ad services
- Number of simultaneous connections
- Free Trials and Money-Back Guarantees
- Customer Support
- Cross-Platform Support
There are many other features to look out for, but the above are considered the most important when selecting a VPN.
VPN is an important and useful tool if you are looking to add an extra layer of security to your personal data. It also helps to reduce your susceptibility to being hacked. With the information provided here and the overview on VPN, you should be able to acquire the best VPN that suites your requirements.