VPN, which stands for “Virtual Private Network,” refers to the ability to create a secure network connection while using public networks. It encrypts your internet traffic and conceals your online identity, making it harder for third parties to monitor your online activities and steal information. The encryption occurs in real time.

How does a VPN function?

A VPN conceals your IP address by directing the network through a specially configured remote server operated by the VPN provider. This means that when you browse the internet using a VPN, the VPN server becomes the origin of your data. As a result, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and other third parties cannot see the websites you visit or the data you send and receive online. A VPN acts as a filter, transforming all your data into “nonsense.” If anyone were to obtain your data, it would be worthless.

What are the advantages of using a VPN connection?

A VPN connection masks your online data traffic and safeguards it from external access. Unencrypted data can be viewed by anyone with network access and the desire to see it. A VPN prevents hackers and cybercriminals from deciphering this data.

Reliable encryption: To interpret the data, you need an encryption key. Without one, a computer would take millions of years to crack the code during a brute force attack. With a VPN, your online activities remain hidden even on public networks.

Hiding your location: VPN servers effectively serve as your internet proxies. Since the location data comes from a server in a different country, your actual location cannot be determined. Furthermore, most VPN services do not keep logs of your activities. Some providers do record your behavior but do not share this information with third parties. This ensures that any potential record of your user activity remains permanently concealed.

Access to region-specific content: Regional web content is not always available everywhere. Services and websites frequently contain content that can only be accessed from specific parts of the world. Standard connections use local servers in the country to identify your location. This means that you cannot access content from your home country while traveling, nor can you access international content from your home. With VPN location spoofing, you can switch to a server in another country and effectively “change” your location.

Secure data transmission: If you work remotely, you may need to access critical files on your company’s network. This type of information necessitates a secure connection for security reasons. A VPN connection is often required to access the network. VPN services connect to private servers and employ encryption techniques to minimize the risk of data leaks.

Why is it important to use a VPN connection?

When you connect to the internet, your ISP typically establishes your connection and tracks you via an IP address. Your network traffic passes through your ISP’s servers, which can log and display all your online activities. Although your ISP may appear trustworthy, it can share your browsing history with advertisers, law enforcement or government agencies, and other third parties. ISPs can also fall prey to cybercriminals; if hacked, your personal and private data can be compromised. This is especially crucial if you frequently connect to public Wi-Fi networks, as you can never be sure who might be monitoring your internet traffic and what they could steal from you, including passwords, personal data, payment information, or even your entire identity.

What should a reliable VPN provide?

A dependable VPN should perform one or more tasks and be protected against compromise. The following features should be expected from a comprehensive VPN solution:

– IP address encryption: A VPN’s primary function is to conceal your IP address from your ISP and other third parties. This enables you to send and receive information online without anyone but you and the VPN provider seeing it.

– Protocol encryption: A VPN should also prevent you from leaving traces, such as your internet history, search history, and cookies. Encrypting cookies is particularly important, as it prevents third parties from accessing sensitive information like personal data, financial information, and other website content.

– Kill switch: If your VPN connection is suddenly interrupted, your secure connection will also be disrupted. A reliable VPN can detect this unexpected downtime and terminate preselected programs, reducing the likelihood of data compromise.

– Two-factor authentication: A robust VPN verifies everyone attempting to log in using various authentication methods. For instance, you may be asked to enter a password, followed by a code sent to your mobile device. This makes it challenging for unauthorized third parties to access your secure connection.

The history of VPNs

As long as humans have used the internet, there has been a movement to protect and encrypt internet browser data. The US Department of Defense began working on projects for encrypting internet communication data back in the 1960s.

The precursors of the VPN

These efforts led to the creation of ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network), a packet-switching network, which subsequently resulted in the development of the Transfer Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP). The TCP/IP had four levels: Link, internet, transport, and application. At the internet level, local networks and devices could connect to the universal network, revealing the risk of exposure. In 1993, a team from Columbia University and AT&T Bell Labs succeeded in creating a primitive version of the modern VPN, known as swIPe: Software IP encryption protocol. The following year, Wei Xu developed the IPSec network, an internet security protocol that authenticates and encrypts information packets shared online. In 1996, a Microsoft employee named Gurdeep Singh-Pall created the Peer-to-Peer Tunneling Protocol (PPTP).

The early days of VPNs

While Singh-Pall was developing PPTP, the internet was gaining popularity, and the demand for consumer-ready, sophisticated security systems emerged. At the time, antivirus programs effectively prevented malware and spyware from infecting computer systems. However, individuals and businesses also began to demand encryption software that could conceal their browsing history on the internet. The first VPNs emerged in the early 2000s but were predominantly used by companies. However, following a wave of security breaches, particularly in the early 2010s, the consumer market for VPNs started to grow.

VPNs and their current usage

The GlobalWebIndex reports that the number of VPN users worldwide increased more than four times between 2016 and 2018. In countries like Thailand, Indonesia, and China, where internet usage is restricted and censored, one in five internet users employs a VPN. In the USA, the UK, and Germany, the proportion of VPN users is lower at around 5%, but it is growing. One of the primary drivers for VPN adoption in recent years has been the increasing demand for accessing geographically restricted content. For instance, video streaming services such as Netflix or YouTube make certain videos available only in specific countries. Modern VPNs allow you to encrypt your IP address, making it appear as though you are browsing from another country, thus enabling access to this content from anywhere.

How to securely browse with a VPN

A VPN encrypts your browsing activity, which can only be decoded with a key. Only your computer and the VPN possess this key, so your ISP cannot determine which websites you visit. Different VPNs use various encryption processes but generally function in three steps:

1. Once online, initiate your VPN. The VPN serves as a secure tunnel between you and the internet, undetectable by your ISP and other third parties.

2. Your device is now on the VPN’s local network, and your IP address can be changed to one provided by the VPN server.

3. You can now browse the internet freely, as the VPN safeguards all your personal data.

Types of VPNs

There are numerous types of VPNs, but you should be familiar with the three main types:


Not all company employees have access to a company laptop for working from home. During the Spring 2020 coronavirus crisis, many companies faced a shortage of equipment for their employees. In such cases, using a personal device (PC, laptop, tablet, mobile phone) is often necessary. In this situation, companies rely on an SSL VPN solution, typically implemented via a hardware box. The requirement is usually an HTML-5-capable browser used to access the company’s login page. HTML-5-capable browsers are available for almost any operating system, and access is protected with a username and password.

Site-to-site VPN

A site-to-site VPN is essentially a private network designed to conceal private intranets, enabling users of these secure networks to access each other’s resources. A site-to-site VPN is useful for companies with multiple locations, each with its own local area network (LAN) connected to the WAN (Wide Area Network). Site-to-site VPNs are also helpful for transferring files between two separate intranets without users from one intranet explicitly accessing the other. Site-to-site VPNs are primarily used by large companies and are complex to implement. They do not offer the same flexibility as SSL VPNs but are the most effective way to ensure communication within and between large departments.

Client-to-server VPN

Connecting via a VPN client can be imagined as connecting your home PC to the company with an extension cable. Employees can access the company network from their home office via the secure connection and operate as if they were in the office. However, a VPN client must first be installed and configured on the computer. This involves the user connecting to the internet through their VPN provider instead of their ISP, essentially shortening the VPN tunnel phase. Rather than using the VPN to create an encryption tunnel to disguise the existing internet connection, the VPN can automatically encrypt the data before making it available to the user. This is an increasingly common form of VPN, particularly useful for providers of insecure public Wi-Fi. It prevents third parties from accessing and compromising the network connection and encrypts data all the way to the provider. It also stops ISPs from accessing unencrypted data and bypasses any restrictions on the user’s internet access (for example, if the government of that country restricts internet access).

The advantage of this type of VPN access is greater efficiency and universal access to company resources. Provided an appropriate telephone system is available, the employee can, for example, connect to the system with a headset and operate as if they were at their company workplace. Customers of the company may not even be able to tell whether the employee is working in the office or from their home office. In conclusion, VPNs have become essential tools for enhancing privacy, security, and accessibility in the digital age. As VPN technologies continue to evolve, they will play an increasingly crucial role in protecting internet users from various threats and ensuring unrestricted access to online content.

How to Install a VPN on Your Computer: A Guide

Before installing a VPN, familiarize yourself with different implementation methods:

1. VPN Client: This method requires installing a software configured to meet the endpoint’s requirements. During setup, the endpoint executes the VPN link, connecting to the other endpoint to create an encrypted tunnel. Company-issued passwords or certificates are generally used for authentication.

2. Browser Extensions: VPN extensions can be added to popular web browsers like Chrome and Firefox. Some browsers, such as Opera, have integrated VPN extensions. These extensions are convenient for quick VPN configuration but only protect data shared within the browser. They may also be more susceptible to breaches.

3. Router VPN: Installing a VPN directly on the router can be more efficient when multiple devices share the same internet connection. Router VPNs protect all connected devices, even those difficult to configure, like smart TVs. However, they may be harder to manage without a user interface.

4. Company VPN: A custom company VPN is set up and maintained by the organization’s IT team. Users don’t have administrative access to the VPN, and their activities are logged by the company, minimizing the risk of data leakage. Company VPNs ensure secure connections to the company’s intranet and server.

VPNs can also be used on smartphones and other internet-connected devices. Many VPN providers offer mobile solutions that can be downloaded from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store. Keep in mind that VPNs do not replace comprehensive anti-virus software. To ensure maximum security, use a VPN alongside a reputable anti-virus program.

When choosing a VPN provider, select one that you trust. Your VPN provider can see your internet traffic, so if their security is compromised, yours is too. Opt for a reliable VPN provider that prioritizes your privacy and offers high-level security.

Installing a VPN on your smartphone is typically user-friendly. Download the VPN app from the iOS App Store or Google Play Store, and follow the setup instructions. Once installed, activate the VPN connection through the app before browsing the internet.

In conclusion, a VPN connection provides a secure link between you and the internet by routing your data traffic through an encrypted virtual tunnel. This process hides your IP address and protects your data from external attacks. A VPN also allows access to regionally restricted content from anywhere in the world. However, it’s essential to use a VPN in combination with trusted anti-virus software for optimal security.

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