VPN 101

No one likes being tracked. That’s why more and more people are turning to VPNs, or Virtual Private Networks. VPNs mask your identity online to protect you from advertisers hoping to target you for profit. So, how exactly does a VPN work, and how can you get started with using one? In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about VPNs to answer these important questions.

What is a VPN?

A virtual private network (VPN) is software that protects your internet connection and privacy when you’re online. It creates a secure tunnel for your data, disguises your IP address to protect your online identity, and allows you to connect to open Wi-Fi hotspots securely.

VPNs use unique technology to create a secure connection between two points. You can use a VPN to connect to resources on a private network, from your home to your work network. You can also use the public internet to access these resources, similar to a wide area network. Depending on your needs, certain services may be available from within the secure network.

How Does a VPN Work?

VPNs allow you connect to another computer from anywhere in the world. To do so, you just need to use a computer that is connected to the internet and an encrypted tunnel, which will keep your information safe and private. You can also use a VPN to connect to servers worldwide. This way, you can access websites and services blocked in your country. All you need to do is install the right software on your device.

Let’s take a deeper look at standard VPN features and how they work to protect your identity online.

Some of the main features of VPNs include:

IP Addresses

Your IP address is a set of numbers that identifies your computer and the server you are trying to reach. Your ISP’s customer identification number (CID) and country are also part of your IP address. That’s why if you look up your IP address, you’ll often see your physical location as well.

Because VPN servers use static IP addresses, some websites have created technology that blocks traffic from those servers. When you connect to a VPN server, you are given a new IP address.

encryption vpn explained

Encryption

Data encryption allows you to hide your data from third parties. It works by putting the data into a format that makes it difficult to understand without a unique key. Most high-end VPN services use zero-access encryption, which means they don’t have your encryption key and can’t decrypt your data.

AES-256 is the most common encryption method. This means that your data has been encrypted using a 256-bit cipher. This is the largest cipher available to consumers. A larger cipher makes it harder for third parties to break into your data, because there are more alternatives to your encryption key than there are stars in the sky.

The importance of encryption cannot be overstated. It protects your data from being accessed by third parties like hackers or government agencies when it moves between the router, which connects you to a VPN server, and the destination machine on its network, even if someone manages to get their hands on either one!

VPN Protocols

When you connect to the internet, specific protocols are involved in making that connection. Different protocols offer different features and levels of security.

Most VPN providers offer multiple protocols, and some even offer optimized servers for specific protocols.

The most common VPN protocols are:

PPTP: Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol

L2TP/IPsec: Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol/Internet Protocol Security

SSTP: Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol

IKEv2/IPSec: Internet Key Exchange Version 2/Internet Protocol Security

Each protocol has its own benefits and drawbacks, so it’s essential to choose the right one for your needs.

PPTP is the oldest and most compatible VPN protocol, but it’s also the least secure. It’s fast and easy to set up but doesn’t offer much security.

L2TP/IPsec is a more secure option than PPTP, but it can be slower and more challenging to set up.

SSTP is only available on Windows, but it’s very secure and can be faster than L2TP/IPsec.

IKEv2/IPSec is the newest VPN protocol, and it’s available on most devices. It’s fast, secure, and easy to set up.

OpenVPN

OpenVPN is a highly secure and configurable VPN protocol that offers good speed.
It’s often the go-to choice for people looking to protect their data connection with an encryption scheme they can trust. However, some might find its lack of cutting-edge features such as fast browsing speeds drawback in comparison to other options on this list – especially if you’re planning your trip around specific content streaming services like Netflix or Hulu Plus, which abuses those capabilities most deeply (even if only by way of example).

WireGuard

WireGuard is an open-source VPN protocol that has been around for less time than other protocols. However, it’s faster and uses up-to-date encryption methods, making this a potentially great alternative if you need something lightweight yet powerful!

PPTP

The PPTP protocol was developed in the mid-90s, and it’s one of those older VPN technologies that still sees use. However, as this design only supports dial-up connections, its encryption has been cracked over time – though not before being widely supported by many users due to how fast it works!

IKEv2

Internet Key Exchange version 2 or IKEv2 is a security protocol that helps to protect against network attacks by authenticating and encrypting data. It’s fast because it does not require any prior setup time, but this also means the connection can change networks at any time, which might make it difficult for users who are traveling with their device where they will need an updated IP address quickly in order continue using what was already open before switching over from one network provider (or Cly Dennis pos)

No-Logging Policies

Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) records everything you do online. This includes the websites that you visit, as well as any actions taken while using these sites like purchasing something or filling out an application form for employment opportunities with them; it also informs your IP address at all times so if there’s ever a problem related to misuse of personal data due diligence can happen quickly because now everyone knows what happened, including law enforcement who might be looking into investigate further.

However, You can protect your online privacy and anonymity using a no-log VPN. This means that the virtual private network provider does not collect or log any information transmitted through their networks, so you remain anonymous from everybody, including yourself!

site to site VPN diagram

Site-to-Site VPN

A site-to-site VPN is a remote access solution that allows users to connect from anywhere via the internet to a corporate network. These businesses frequently need to access data or servers on the primary network, such as email servers or application servers that enable email or store information.

A site-to-site VPN allows individuals to access the Company files from any location on the network as if it were physically installed in their real position.

A site-to-site VPN is a good way for remote employees to access information from the main office.

The Benefits of Site-to-Site VPN

What are the advantages of site-to-site VPNs, in terms of remote access VPN technology, when compared to traditional methods of VPN?

  • Scalability: VPN can be easily scaled up or down according to business needs by adding or removing VPN servers.
  • Performance: Site-to-site VPNs offer high performance because they use dedicated VPN equipment at each site.
  • Stability: Site-to-site VPNs are more stable and reliable because they are not subject to Internet connection problems.Security: VPNs offer better protection because they encrypt data before sending it over the public internet.

The Disadvantage of site-to-site VPN

  • Visibility: Because each site-to-site VPN connection is entirely autonomous, monitoring and controlling these data transfers is complex. A site-to-site VPN may have the opposite impact of attempting to decentralize data and minimize network latency.
  • Security: A site-to-site VPN can protect one location if both sites connect to the same network. The data is encrypted at two locations, and it is not as secure as it could be because there is no way to control who accesses the data or what they do with it.
remote access VPN explained

Types of VPNs

There are three main VPN types: remote-access, Intranet-based Site-to-Site, and Extranet-based Site-to-Site.

Intranet Based Site-to-Site

A site-to-site link is a way to connect two networks. This method adds a network to the data center across geographical locations or departments. The interconnection link could transit another intermediate network, such as one that is IPv6 and another that is IPv4.

Site-to-site VPNs are an excellent way for businesses to exchange data between offices securely. This is especially useful for businesses with multiple locations, as they can keep their servers on the company’s primary network. Sometimes, having a server on the company’s network is essential to the business’s success. When a site-to-site VPN is used in this situation, it gives employees access to the company’s sites as if they were physically located there.

Intranet Based Site-to-Site

Site-to-site VPNs have been around for a long time. They were used before the internet as we know it today. They were able to be used because of their connection to ARPANET. This was also the beginning of Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) traffic.

Remote access VPN

A remote access virtual private network (VPN) is a software program that protects connections between two networks. Users who work from home may securely utilize corporate data center and headquarters applications and data and encrypt all traffic they send and receive.

This Virtual private networks (VPNs) allow remote users to access a company’s network as if they were physically present. Data may be sent without an organization having to worry about it being tampered with or intercepted using remote access VPN.

Employees who work in different areas may connect to a server at their desk through a remote access VPN, giving them the same conditions as employees at the main office who use a direct connection. In a nutshell, a remote access VPN is a cable that goes across several kilometers—and, in some cases, international borders—directly into each employee’s workstation, including PCs, laptops, and mobile devices.

Extranet based Site-to-Site

Extranet-based Site-to-Site is used by organizations that wish to distribute certain information while maintaining others’ privacy, as they allow for sharing sensitive data. Each entity connects to the extranet-based site-to-site VPN and decides what it wants to offer to other businesses. They can work together without jeopardizing their intellectual property in this manner.

The most common use for an extranet VPN is to connect business partners so they can share data and applications securely. This type of VPN usually uses the internet as the transport medium, but it can also be implemented over a leased line.

Extranet VPNs differ from other VPN types because they require special software at both ends of the connection. This VPN gateway software encrypts and decrypts all data between the two sites. VPN gateways are usually installed on a firewall or router.

Using Vpn for Unblocking Streaming Services

Netflix, Apple, and other streaming companies acquire the rights to stream certain content in different countries. This means that the availability of additional content will vary depending on which country you are in and who owns the license for that country.

Netflix offers a different selection of movies and TV shows in the United States than in Canada because it must negotiate with movie studios and TV networks for the rights to stream their content in each country.

Similarly, Apple’s iTunes Store offers different movies and TV shows in other countries. This is because Apple has to negotiate with the movie studios and TV networks for the rights to sell their content in each country.

Content availability also varies depending on which country the content is licensed in. For example, Netflix has the right to stream certain movies and TV shows in the United States but not Canada.

Using VPN is the best way to get around these geo-restrictions. When you connect to a VPN server in another country, it will appear like you are accessing the internet from that country. This allows you to bypass geo-restrictions and access content that is only available in that country.

However, some streaming companies are starting to crack down on VPN users. Netflix has been blocking VPNs since 2016, and Apple has been doing the same since 2017.

If you want to unblock streaming services like Netflix, Apple, or other similar sites, you need to use a VPN that these companies do not block. Below are some of the best VPNs for unblocking streaming services:

ExpressVPN: ExpressVPN is one of the best VPNs for unblocking streaming services. It has an extensive network of servers in 94 countries and can bypass geo-restrictions on Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and more.

NordVPN: NordVPN is another excellent option for unblocking streaming services. It has an extensive network of servers in 62 countries and can unblock Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and more.

CyberGhost VPN: CyberGhost VPN is an excellent option for unblocking streaming services. It has an extensive network of servers in 60 countries and can bypass geo-restrictions on Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and more.

PrivateVPN: PrivateVPN is another excellent choice for unblocking streaming services. It has a network of servers in 50 countries and can unblock Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and more.

How to Use a VPN

Using a VPN is simple, whether at home or on the go. Here’s how to set up and use a VPN on all your devices.

Choose a VPN Service
A good VPN service will have an extensive network of servers in different locations, no logging, and strong encryption.

Download and install the VPN app

Open the VPN app and sign in with your credentials.

Select a server location. For example, if you want to watch US Netflix, you would connect to a server in the United States.

Connect to a Server

To connect to a server, check if there is an option for quick connection in your favorite apps. If not, then do some research on finding the best one possible based on what kind of traffic you’re getting from either wireless or wired connections so that way, when connecting, it will always give optimal performance instead!

VPN Configuration

When you first download a VPN app, it will ask you to sign in with your account. We recommend going through each program’s settings and ensuring they are what they prefer before using them on public networks like airports or coffee shops where others may have access!

Configure VPN on iPhone or iPad

Download the app – when you’re prompted if you want to allow this particular application access while creating a new connection, press Allow so that everything can be set up automatically.

Once the VPN is enabled, you can select and connect it anytime:

  1. Tap on Settings
  2. Then Tap General.
  3. Select the VPN App
  4. Toggle the Status switch on.

Configure VPN on Android devices

We all use our mobile phones for many things, like checking directions and staying up-to-date with social media. It’s essential to protect our online activity.

To connect your Android with a VPN, follow these steps:

  1. Download and install a VPN from the Google Play Store.
  2. Sign in.
  3. Choose a server.
  4. Tap Connect.

Configure VPN on Windows PC

To connect your PC with a VPN, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Windows logo. Then on Settings – Choose Network & Internet – VPN.
  2. Fill in the connection settings: Select Add a VPN Connection from the drop-down list and add your VPN connection. Fill out the login details correctly and click Save.
  3. After selecting a VPN connection from the VPN Settings screen, tap Connect to it.

Configure a VPN on Mac

You need to use the built-in settings on a Mac to set up your VPN. Ensure you have all the information ready, including the type of VPN (PPTP vs. L2TP), server address/name, username and password, and shared secret. This information is unique for each network provider; you should get it from them before setting it up.

  1. Click the Apple logo, then click System Preferences.
  2. Click Network.
  3. Click the Plus key to create a new network.
  4. Enter the Server Address and the Account Name, then click Authentication Settings.
  5. Enter the Password, then the Shared Secret, and click OK.
  6. Click Apply, then click Connect
  7. You are connected

Have more questions about VPNs? Comment below, and we’ll be happy to answer them. In the meantime, check out our other blog posts for more tips on staying safe online.

Natalie Werner
Natalie Werner is a freelance writer, CISSP & CCSK Certified Cybersecurity specialist with over 20 years of experience in the banking industry. She's also co-founder and CEO at The Alliance for Cyber Security Excellence (The ACE), an international not -for profit organization that provides cyber security solutions to reduce risk exposure from threats like hacks or malware infections by bringing together trusted experts across various fields, including information technology (IT). As well as providing specialized operational courses on how to maintain your digital assets within IT domains such data protection, Natalie offers strategic training designed help organizations better understand their own business needs when it comes down to protecting against external risks brought about through technological advances

Related Articles

Why You Should Never Use a Free VPN

The internet is a vast and wonderful place, but...

VPS Hosting: The Best Solution for Your Business Website

VPS Hosting: The Best Solution for Your Business Website Setting...