These days everybody uses the internet for extremely confidential matters such as internet banking, work, and private messages, but how secure is your internet connection?
Many businesses already use encryption services within their websites, however they are still susceptible to hacking from criminals, the government and businesses.
A good way to ensure that your information is as secure as possible online is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service.
What is a VPN?
VPN’s offer a secure connection between your device and another over the internet.
A VPN transmits information through a different server to your usual Internet service provider (ISP) masking your personal data and providing you with anonymity.
Many people assume that VPN users are trying to access illegal content, which is simply not the case.
VPN’s are used both in businesses and for personal use. Some businesses use VPNs in order to allow their employees the ability to work from home whilst still accessing important data and information, which would usually be stored on their work computer.
A recent UK government survey showed that four in ten businesses have experienced a cyber breach within the last 12 months. An article by the Telegraph suggests that one of the best things that businesses can implement in order to increase their cybersecurity is a VPN.
Aside from business, people use VPNs for personal use for accessing websites such as BBC iplayer when travelling in other countries, where these websites are not available.
In fact, 50% of people using a VPN are using them to gain access to better entertainment online, with 77% of VPN users purchasing online content each month according to Bestvpn.ie.
This means that most VPN users are not looking to commit criminal acts at all. So if you were worried that people using VPN services are committing crime, think again!
How does a VPN work to protect you and your private information?
VPN’s work in several different ways to hide your information. The first way is encryption.
Encryption is a method of scrambling internet data so that it can only be understood by the intended reader. When you access the internet through a VPN it codes information being sent out and decodes information coming back in.
This means that any external entity such as criminals or the government trying to hack into your internet connection will not be able to understand it.
However, according to the BBC some governments have requested that VPN service providers create a backdoor into their systems so that they can access people’s internet information, as some criminals may be using encryption as a way to evade law enforcement.
Another way in which a VPN works is through IP cloaking. This is when your IP is hidden from external people trying to look at what you have been browsing.
When you access the internet through a VPN you are provided with an alternative IP address which is not attached to your individual device or network, therefore making your browsing identity undetectable.
Most VPNs have servers worldwide and therefore when you are trying to access websites that are restricted within your geographical location, the VPN provides you with an IP address local to that server, granting you access to content that is otherwise unavailable within the country that you are situated in.
Many ISP’s try to control the websites that you have access to. They can do this by blocking certain websites and through bandwidth throttling.
The websites which ISP’s try to control access to tend to be those which you may stream video content from. They may do this in order to encourage customers to purchase a higher bandwidth package, with the belief that they will be able to access video content more easily.
The other reason why ISP’s carry out bandwidth throttling is to try and prevent their users from accessing illegal download and streaming websites.
By using a VPN your ISP is unaware of what content you are trying to access online due to encryption and the fact that they are using a different server.
This means that VPN’s also are able to bypass certain ISP pathways, giving you access to blocked content.
This could also potentially speed up your connection when using certain websites, as the ISP is not aware of what you are trying to access, they won’t know when to carry out bandwidth throttling.
The final way that a VPN works to secure your connection is by providing a firewall that works to block any malicious external entities trying to hack into your secure connection.
How can you access the internet through a VPN?
There are many different VPN providers available to subscribe to online. Some VPN services are free, however, these tend to have fewer servers than paid for providers and may mean that when there is too much traffic on the servers, the internet will slow down.
When selecting a VPN provider it is worth considering what content you are trying to access.
If it is content within a different country, you should make sure that the VPN has servers within the desired country you are trying to access.
You can use a VPN to create a secure connection across one device or several.
Make sure that when making the decision on which provider to use, your subscription covers the number and type of device that you require a secure connection on.
Once subscribed you will create a username and password which will be used to login to the service. If you are looking to implement a VPN across your overall network you will need to change the configuration on your router.
There is usually information on VPN service provider websites on how to do this. In order to access a VPN on an individual device, you will need to download the companies app and enter your username and password to begin browsing the internet through their secure connection.
Some newer devices may work better with some VPNs as they are working on more advanced technology, so if you log on through a tablet this may work quicker than using an old PC.