Now more that ever, the internet is playing a key role in every aspect of our lives, both in terms of work and entertainment. And with this increased use comes a pressing need to ensure all our information is secure online.
When it comes to online security, the more you have the better. Following two-factor authentication and displaying minimal personal information are two that you can do. But if you really want to be secure online, a VPN will give you an extra-secure way to access and manage all the online services you use.
What is a VPN?
To answer the question 'what is a VPN?' or 'what is VPN protection?', let's start by answering the simple question of, 'what does VPN stand for?'
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. It's an online service that hides your identity and activity when online by extending a private network across a public one.
A VPN allows users to access private data and features as if they were plugged directly into their own private network. And you can do this from anywhere with an internet connection without having to compromise your online security. It ensures your identity remains anonymous and makes it far more difficult for third parties to track you online and potentially steal your data.
How does a VPN work?
VPNs work by hiding your IP address, bouncing it through the VPN host's specialised servers and connecting you to your desired network. This makes it so that other third parties can't see what you send and receive online. And even if someone found a way to access your data, a VPN makes said data incomprehensible to read.
Once you're connected to a VPN, it essentially encases your connection with the private network inside a 'tunnel'. It uses this to funnel all data straight to you while hiding you from everyone else and ensuring no one can access your tunnel externally.
This lets you browse the internet risk free and with peace of mind.
What does a VPN do?
While security is the main focus of a VPN, there are some other upsides. Now we've looked at 'what is VPN security', let's talk about what other things a VPN can do.
In the past, the main application of a VPN was purely corporate, providing employees with a secure way to access confidential business data remotely. This is still very much the case today and is one of the main reasons people are able to work together effectively from either side of the globe.
The public nature of the internet makes it inherently insecure, but with a VPN business users can work from home or on the road with all the data they need safely encrypted. Remote workers can securely benefit from the same functionality they’d get in the office with access to servers, printers, emails, and file storage, without issue.
But as we've mentioned, VPNs aren’t limited solely to the business world anymore. More and more people are turning to VPNs for benefits besides online security.
The other main benefit of a VPN is a practice known as 'geo-spoofing'. By hiding your actual IP address, VPNs can provide a way to mask your physical location by giving it a new IP address associated with a different country. This allows a user to avoid country-specific restrictions and access content that should be off-limits to them (we don't recommend doing this as it is liable to break the terms and conditions of a variety of online services).
Why use a VPN?
When you connect to the internet, your IP address is provided to you by your Internet Service Provider and routed through their dedicated servers. This lets them log and display everything you do online.
VPNs on the other hand, either don't log your data or they keep it permanently hidden, bound by the terms and conditions of the contract you signed when agreeing to pay for their services.
Long story short, a secure VPN is the ideal way to keep all your online data safe.
Is there a problem with using a free VPN?
There are many VPN options out there for you to choose from, and while you can get free VPNs, there are a number of downsides.
As the provider will be looking for a return on their investment, a free VPN will likely include a frustrating level of intrusive advertising. In other situations, your browsing data may also be harvested and sold to other companies, which defeats the whole point of a VPN to begin with.
There are many different free VPN options available, but most will severely curb the amount of data you can use. This can heavily affect torrenting and streaming video, as well as many other functions. It’s also worth noting that you probably won’t receive the same easy access support and server range that you would do with a paid VPN.
How to set up a VPN
The process of setting up a VPN is designed to be incredibly easy for individual users. If you just want a VPN for your own personal use, simply select a company that you like and trust, download their VPN software, set it up, and you're good to go.
Alternatively, if you're looking to set up a VPN for your business, it's a good idea to speak with your ISP or a VPN provider of your choice and they'll help you set everything up.
Do I need a VPN router?
The majority of Wi-Fi routers support VPN pass-through functionality. This means that VPN users can install software on their device and make a secure VPN connection with their company or home network. But to do this, a regular router has to have the VPN software installed onto every single device before the VPN's security can be used.
The advantage that a VPN router has over a standard router, however, is that the VPN security is already installed straight onto it. Being able to manage a VPN connection in this way creates a secure network where you can connect every device in an office without needing to install the software on each individual machine.
Security with cloud computing and VPN protection
Despite being separate technologies, VPN and cloud computing are both equally important when it comes to maintaining the security of your network. Though they can both do a good job individually, by working together they can be even more effective.
With cyber-attacks becoming ever more prevalent, it’s even more important to utilise the best tools you have available to you. Using a VPN for cloud computing will protect data that can be accessed safely via different devices. In the absence of a VPN, data loss is possible even if your business or home uses cloud computing.
Fortunately, our CloudNX platform gives you the ability to manage your cloud servers via a secure VPN connection, as if you were on the same private network as the one in your office. Speak to our team of experts today and we'll help you get started.
Of course, it's not just cloud-based services that we can provide here at Fasthosts. You can use a VPN with our dedicated servers and VPS too! Plus from Web Hosting and WordPress Hosting to Domain Names and Email Hosting, we have everything you need to start building your business's online presence.