Using a VPN? Learn more about VPN security and how it works!
Browsing the internet via a VPN isn’t an option reserved solely for business purposes or travelling occasions. You may not be completely aware of it, but a VPN is a great solution for protecting your personal data whenever you’re online – which is probably most of the time nowadays, right? But how does VPN security work, anyway? Luckily, you don’t have to be a tech expert to set up a VPN and benefit from all its advantages.
A VPN, or a Virtual Private Network, is exactly what its name suggests: a channel through which you may access the internet in a private, encrypted way. When using a VPN to connect to the internet, your online activity becomes invisible to your internet service provider (ISP) and you are offered a new IP address, meaning that your actual one is no longer visible to prying eyes.
Still, how does VPN security work? Without getting awfully technical, let’s take a look at the ways in which a VPN may help you protect sensitive information and grant you the much desired online anonymity.
VPN protocols – the basis of VPN security
VPN security is ensured by protocols. They encrypt all data transmitted through the VPN in various ways, ensuring thus various degrees of data protection.
A VPN protocol is a set of rules that dictate how data is being communicated from a source to a receiver. Depending on the type of protocols used, the rules and regulations for computing and communicating data that are imposed can be focused on efficiency and speed or security.
There is a great deal of VPN protocols in use today and even though choosing the one that is more suitable for your needs can be difficult, you can learn more information from our Learning Center articles, where we go into great depth on the subject.
You should know however, that the most popular ones are:
Most reputable VPN providers will have these implemented and even give you the choice to select what kind of protocol you want to use for your online endeavours.
How does VPN security work exactly?
By means of these protocols, a VPN ensures you aren’t vulnerable to all sort of online threats, but how does it actually work?
In short, when you connect to a VPN – most likely through authentication, which is an important part of VPN security –, you do so through an encrypted connection, i.e. all data going to and from your device to the VPN provider is protected by encryption and cannot be “read”, nor “seen” by anyone else but you.
This process means that your internet service provider cannot see anything else than your connecting to the VPN – i.e. it cannot see what you’re doing online, what website you access, etc. –, but also that you get to use a different IP address, the one provided by the VPN server you’re using.
VPN security and Wi-Fi connections
That is great news for multiple reasons, as VPN security means more than protection against ISP’s prying eyes. It also means that you get to connect to an otherwise unsafe Wi-Fi – in a café, for instance – without worrying that your activity and, hence, sensitive information will be vulnerable to online threats. In other words, if your job involves travelling and/or freelancing, hence the need to work from public spaces, at least sporadically, a VPN may help you access in a safe manner all the information you need.
What about VPN security risks?
Of course, nothing is fail-proof, not even a reputable VPN provider. Some of the VPN security risks include:
- weak user authentication
- VPN hijacking
- DNS leak
- man-in-the-middle attack, etc.
To prevent all of the above, you need to make sure that your VPN provider, whichever you may choose, offers you strong security features such as:
- strong authentication
- strong encryption
- DNS leak protection
- VPN kill switch
- customer support for troubleshooting issues
How safe are you when using a VPN?
Overall, connecting to the internet via a VPN provides a high degree of privacy and data security. But the extent to which privacy and security are actually valid depends on the VPN provider you choose. Paying a monthly fee for a VPN subscription might do the trick, as well as opting for a no logs VPN service – for most common activities, be they personal or professional, this type of VPN providers will turn out to be the most reliable.
However, you should keep in mind that, despite protecting you from being surveyed by your ISP or your government, or even the police, we don’t encourage the use of VPN for illegal or questionable activities. If you use a VPN from a reputable provider with a strong “no logs” policy, not even the VPN provider will be able to see exactly what you’re up too. But remember, it is always better to use a VPN in order to protect yourself rather than become an entity others need to protect from.