What is VPN: Why You Need IT? How to Protect the Connection?

What is VPN mean?

From year to year the electronic communication improves more and more. So no wonder, exchange of information must meet the higher demand on speed, security and quality of data processing.

In this article we will analyze VPN connection in details: what is it, what is VPN tunnel for and how to use VPN connection.

VPN connection – What is it?

So, virtual private network VPN is a technology that provides secure (closed from external access) logical network connection over private or public connection in the presence of high-speed Internet.

VPN is a Virtual Private Network. It works over the Internet, and therefore you can connect to it from anywhere.

Such a network connection of computers (geographically distant from each other at a considerable distance) uses a point-to-point connection (in other words, a computer-to-computer).

Using VPN is pretty simple. Typically, a company raises a VPN server somewhere on the local computer, server, or data center, and connects to it using the VPN client on the user device.

Scientifically, this type of connection is called a VPN tunnel (or tunnel protocol). You can connect to such tunnel if you have a computer with any operating system (OS) which has integrated a VPN client, that can “forward” virtual ports using TCP/IP protocol into another network.

 What is VPN for?

The main advantage of VPN is that the connecting sides need a connection platform. Which not only scales quickly, but, first of all, ensures data confidentiality, data integrity and authentication.

It is considered that only criminals and those who have something to hide use VPN services. Fact. But average users should also think about internet security and protecting personal data. Even the simplest VPN will greatly complicate the task to potential attackers – most likely, they will simply switch to a lighter victim.

VPN connection is required for:

  • anonymous work & surfing on the Internet;
  • download application, BitTorrents (aka The Pirate Bay) and torrenting (1337X), P2P file sharing, and much more;
  • Watching online streaming movies, series, TV shows and much more as all Putlocker`s lovers, or even unblocks Netflix;
  • also for online broadcasting streaming music portals. Especially, in case the IP address is located in another regional zone;
  • allows you to bypass geographical and legal restrictions, government censorship and geo-blocked websites and services and even bypass firewalls at fast connection speeds;
  • safe work in a corporate environment using digital communications;
  • simply and easy connection setup;
  • ensuring high speed of connection without breaks;
  • for secure users internet data. No risk losing passwords or sensitive data by intercepting unprotected traffic by third parties when you open Wi-Fi zones on the streets of the city, in cafes and hotels, where you can connect to a wireless network from your laptop or smartphone;
  • VPN connection client-server is usually encrypted;
  • creates safe channel without hacker attacks.

Principles on how VPN works

Principles on how VPN works

When connecting via VPN, the message header contains information about the ip-address of the VPN server and the remote route.

Encapsulated data passing through a public or public network cannot be intercepted, since all information is encrypted.

The VPN encryption stage is implemented on the sender’s side, and the recipient’s data is decrypted by the message header (if there is a common encryption key).

After the correct decryption of the message between the two networks, a VPN connection is established, which also allows you to work in the public network.

As for information security, the Internet is an extremely unsecured network, and a VPN with OpenVPN, L2TP / IPSec, PPTP, PPPoE protocols is a completely secure and safe way to transfer data.

What is the VPN tunnel for?

A VPN is a tunnel connecting many roads. No one outside knows where the cars driving into it will out. No one outside knows what is happening in the tunnel.

VPN tunneling is used for:

  • corporate network;
  • to merge remote offices, as well as small offices;
  • for servicing digital telephony with a wide range of telecommunication services;
  • to access external IT resources;
  • to build and implement video conferencing.

Popular VPN tunneling protocol

PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol) appeared 20 years ago, and this is both its advantages and disadvantages. A definite plus of this protocol is its supported by literally all operating systems, even very old ones. Due to this, a certain universality and accessibility is achieved. Moreover, by modern standards, it is very undemanding of computing resources.

The reverse side of the coin – because of such a solid age, today it offers a low level of user protection. In the mid-1990s, the seemingly robust encryption methods are by today’s standards weak and combined with an unsuccessful architecture and a number of errors in the most popular protocol implementation from Microsoft.

In addition, by default encryption is not offered at all, and breaking a password on modern hardware is possible in less than a day. However, in cases where connection protection is not so important or when there are no other options for VPN connections, then it is better to use PPTP with encryption than without it at all.

L2TP (Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol) is very similar to PPTP. These standards were developed and adopted almost simultaneously, but L2TP is considered more efficient for building virtual networks, although a bit more demanding of computational resources compared to PPTP.

In fact, it is used by Internet providers and corporate users. Please note, that L2TP by default also does not offer encryption and is used simultaneously with other protocols – as a rule, this is IPSec.

IPSec (Internet Protocol Security) is a set of protocols, standards and guidelines specifically designed to create secure connections on the Web. The first developments also appeared in the early 1990s, but initially the goal was not to “carve IPSec in granite”, but to regularly modify it to fit the spirit of the times.

It is not difficult to guess for what departments these developments were conducted. The IPSec suite consists of dozens of standards that describe the various stages of working with secure connections. It is really good both in terms of architecture, and in terms of the reliability of the algorithms used, and in terms of capabilities.

With all the advantages of IPSec, it has its drawbacks. First, it`s very difficult to configure for an unprepared user. So then is fraught with a decrease of the protection level if something is done incorrectly. In addition, as noted before, it is often used in conjunction with other technologies.

Secondly, high demands on computing resources. This disadvantage is partly compensated by the use of hardware acceleration of some variants of the AES encryption algorithm – it is proposed in modern versions of IPSec. Although there are other variants of the algorithms. Such accelerators are are built-in in modern processors for both desktop and mobile devices, as well as for Wi-Fi routers.

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) and TLS (Transport Layer Security) VPNs, as the names say, represent a whole class of solutions based on the corresponding SSL and TLS protocols, sometimes supplemented by other security methods. Each of you met SSL / TLS on websites, including the one you’re browsing right now. Check this out, the https prefix and the green lock in the address bar indicate the use of these particular connection protection protocols.

The first versions of the protocol appeared in the last century, but became actively used these days. The prevalence of these protocols has contributed to their detailed study and consistent identification of new and new vulnerabilities, both in architecture and in specific implementations.

The advantage of SSL / TLS VPN – freely passed through by almost all public networks due to the widespread use of these protocols on the Internet. Drawback is not too high productivity, complexity of setup, as well as the need to install additional software.

VPN was once an exclusively paid service and quite expensive. But as the Internet became more available, the accompanying services got cheaper too. Today the user can choose among both free VPN options and paid VPN subscriptions.

But if there are already free options on the network, what’s the point in choosing a paid VPN? Let’s try to figure it out.

Speed

Paid VPN offers private servers without large number of users. That provides a higher speed and stable connection.

Safety

Apparently paid VPN services have high levels of protection and encryption on own servers.

Variety

Remember, the larger (and more expensive) the service, the more countries, where servers’ IP addresses registered.

Service

Of course, paid VPNs have super technical support that will help you solve any issue.

Usability

Easy-to-use, user-friendly, understandable website with information in different languages, even mobile and desktop app which connect you to the network in one click – this are benefits of paid VPN service.

Can I Use a VPN for Torrenting?

Yep! Of course, you can, but it depends on the specific service you use, and also on what exactly you use.

Torrent is a generic name for a specific protocol used to transfer data and files over the Internet. Despite the well-established notion that torrents are outlawed, it’s quite normal and legal to transfer download data you have rights on. In the case of data transfer without ownership of the transmitted file, this activity is illegal. At the same time, no matter what tools you use for this.

VPN for smartphone

Access via VPN on your smartphone (iPhone or any other Android device) allows to preserve anonymity, as well as prevent traffic interception and hacking of the device while you’re using an Internet in public places.

Installed on any OS a VPN client allows you to bypass many of the settings and rules of the provider with some restrictions. Recently, many VPN services began to accept bitcoins as payment. And it really makes sense: you buy a VPN to protect your data and remain anonymous on the Web, why not use a payment method that also focuses on privacy?

In addition to surfing in web browser, background processes are running on the computer and smartphone, which are constantly looking for updates, synchronized, and simply create network noise. With the help of a firewall, such as Little Snitch or NetLimiter, you can see all the data that the computer sends in the background.

According to that, an experienced hacker can learn more about the user and the installed applications and use this information for a targeted phishing attack.

Which VPN is best for my smartphone?

Smartphones with Android OS can use apps which easy to find on Google Play and IPhones and iOS devices on Apple Store.

Most of these programs help setup system fast, ensure anonymous internet surfing and let choose the type of connection encryption.

Main tasks of using a VPN on smartphone are: check up corporate emails, set video conferencing with several participants, and also hold meetings out the office (for example, when an employee is on a business trip).

VPN for IPhone

Let’s consider, which VPN to choose and how to connect it on your iPhone in details.

Depending on the type of network supported, at first run of VPN configuration on IPhone, select the following protocols: L2TP, PPTP, and Cisco IPSec. More than this, you can “make” VPN connections by using third-party applications).

All listed protocols support encryption keys, user identification provides by password and certification.

Additional features for setting up a VPN profile on iPhone include: RSA security, encryption level and authorization rules for connecting to the server.

Choose BEST VPN Client for you smartphone

NordVPN is one of the best VPN clients available today. This app is also available for macOS, Windows, Linux, Android, Android TV. NordVPN offers excellent speed and stability, along with a proven ability to get past tough firewalls and geoblocks, plus easy-to-reach 24/7 customer service. Enjoy it!

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Markus Clark

My name is Markus Clark and I'm VPN, Torrent and Internet Security specialist. I'm fond of programming languages, studying new technologies. Also I worked as a technical engineer, and now I am blogger.
Markus Clark
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Thanks for the information