Cybersecurity Essentials: VPN

Cybersecurity Essentials: VPN

Whether it’s because of government surveillance or cyberattacks, internet users are more concerned than ever about the privacy of their online activities. Unfortunately, security measures like firewalls and antivirus software can’t help you in this case, but there’s one that can: Virtual Private Network (VPN).

What is VPN?

Simply put, a VPN is a private server or group of servers provided as a service you connect to via the internet. Once you’ve established a connection, your computer acts as if it’s on the same local connection as the remote VPN server, making it seem like you moved to a different location.

When you surf the web through a VPN solution, all the data transmitted and received is also encrypted, preventing anyone -- from hackers to government agencies -- from monitoring your online activities.

Why should you have one?

Of course, security and privacy are major reasons why you would want to use a VPN solution. For example, if you’re connected to a public WiFi network -- like the ones you typically see in local cafes and airports -- using a VPN solution encrypts the information you’re sending or accessing online. This means things like credit card details, login credentials, private conversations, or other sensitive documents can’t be intercepted by a third party.

A VPN service can also be useful for accessing geo-restricted websites. If you’re traveling abroad and certain US websites are blocked in that region, you can simply connect to a VPN service located in the US to access the sites you need.

Which VPN should you choose?

Given the increasing demand for secure online privacy, VPN solutions and services are surging in popularity. The following considerations can help you find the right one.

1. Cost
While free VPN services are available, we strongly suggest you avoid them. These keep logs of your internet activity, and in some cases sell them to the highest bidder. Maintaining a VPN service is also expensive, which means the free ones will likely plaster ads on your browser to make a quick buck.

Paid VPN services like SurfEasy and StrongVPN often come with more robust features and configurations that keep you secure. What’s more, they don’t keep a record of the sites you visit and hound you with pop-ups that can lead to dangerous websites.

With the right technology and expertise, you can establish your own private VPN hosted by your system.  While this sort of setup may not have the geolocation flexibility of a VPN service, it's often fairly inexpensive to setup and can be an effective option for many VPN solution scenarios.

2. Location
The physical location of VPN servers is important if you want to access region-blocked websites. So if you’re planning on accessing a UK-based service, your VPN provider must at least have servers installed in London.

3. Capacity
Read through a VPN provider’s terms of service to determine how much data you’re allowed to use. If possible, find out how many servers a VPN provider has. If they have plenty of servers online, you can rest assured that they have the capacity to support your internet browsing.

When rolling your own VPN solution, capacity is typically not an issue.

4. Device compatibility
Another important factor to consider is whether the VPN can be used across multiple devices. Nowadays, employees work on laptops, tablets, and smartphones, so you’ll want a VPN solution that’s compatible with all these.

5. IP leaking
Finally, a great way to evaluate a VPN service is to sign up for their free trial service and visit https://ipleak.net/, which will allow you to check whether your real IP address is actually being leaked. If it manages to track your physical location, you need to opt for a more reliable VPN service.

VPN solutions are now a vital component of cybersecurity, and if you need help selecting the right one for your business, consult with our security experts today. We also offer comprehensive cybersecurity services so no hacker or third party can get their hands on your data.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Additional edits by Jason Harrison, Independent Technology Consultant