What is a VPN?
VPN is virtual private network. To be more precise it’s an extension to private network technology allowing user to create a secure connection (tunnel) between two or more devices over the Internet. VPN protects the connection and encrypts all transfered data. It is widely used in corporate environment. In addition VPN is used to protect our privacy, access restricted websites and other (more in details bellow).
Why people use VPN?
to encrypt data
While using public Wi-Fi or the Internet always there is a risk of breach. Someone unauthorized could access our data. It’s not a secret to anyone that there is no such thing as perfect technology (and the Internet is not an exception to that). The attackers can trick us in many different ways. For example to mask real Wi-Fi hotspot by creating another one with same name. So be cautious and always check your hotspot.
Interesting fact: Some companies practice similar to that method to monitor usage of business computers by employees (there is a gag about it in Silicon valley show). VPN protects us from this type of attack and encrypts our data.
to hide IP address
It’s important to know that while we browse the Internet, different services and almost all websites collect our data (sometimes even without our consent) which later can be used for variety of purposes such as statistics, advertising or tracking (making user a product of the service). Not always we are willing to participate in this type of activity. Sometimes we just want to stay anonymous and VPN comes to rescue in this situations.
to change virtual location
Virtual location meaning IP address connected to physical address. Using VPN user creates connection with server (in any available location) and access the Internet using this server so it looks like it was accessed from different location.
Why would anyone do that? Well, some services often are be restricted to local area (TV channels or services like Netflix). And if you really enjoy traveling and watch TV it can be very helpful.
to access restricted content
Sometimes ISP blocks particular websites. VPN allows user to change your location enabling access to blocked content (if it’s not blocked in another location as well).
Proxy (or proxy web server) it’s a server that redirects your requests while you access other servers acting as a middle man in whole process. You send request to proxy and proxy redirects it to destination server. Remote server answers sending response to proxy and proxy redirects it back to you. It’s a very similar to VPN except it does not protect your data. So there is no encryption available for proxy.
- smart dns
Smart DNS (or smart domain name server) it’s a server that redirects only specific traffic replacing standard domain name server (without affection of internet speed). Like proxy smart dns does not encrypt anything therefore your data is not protected while travelling on the Internet.
Generally you can find far more advanced ways to secure your data and get privacy. As an example you can use I2P (garlic routing) or Tor browser (onion routing). It’s an open list and every day new technologies are created.
Nowadays privacy is especially important. From one side we have different companies, from another side hackers. Everyone is trying to benefit from our data. If you want to protect your data and(or) to stay anonymous VPN is a really solid solution.