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Cornell Student Articles on Topical Affairs

Understanding the fundamentals of VPNs

VPN stands for “Virtual Private Network.” It is a service that utilizes tunneling to ensure that users have a secure connection when online. It is a fantastic tool for protection and security. It is essential to research and find a VPN provider that works best for each computer and lifestyle online.

Forbes offers a great explanation of what it means to use a VPN. All the data that gets sent from your device while using a VPN becomes “encapsulated.” The packet of data is placed in another packet. Forbes compares this to putting a letter into an envelope to keep the contents from being read during transport. The envelope with information could still be opened. This is why organizations out tamper-proof tape over the flap. Encryption is the tamper-proof tape when using a VPN.

New York Magazine says that you should get a VPN if you care about your privacy and security. There is no way in this age of the Internet to become totally anonymous, but it is in technology users’ best interest to protect themselves as much as possible.

If someone wants to take an extra step in making sure nobody can see what they are looking at, there is the option of using a Tor browser. A Tor browser takes web traffic and bounces it around to different geographical locations. This makes it extremely difficult for anyone to track activity, while also making it near impossible to be spied on by hackers.

How a VPN works

The computer being used connects to a VPN server that is located in the US or a foreign country. The traffic then passes back and forth through the server and it shows that the computer is browsing from a different geographical location.

This is why many companies such as Netflix are fighting against the use of VPNs, according to Tech Hive. Netflix doesn’t want people in Australia, for example, to attempt to access the American version of Netflix. A VPN can grant someone access to American sites and services when they are anywhere in the world.

What a VPN can be used for

VPNs enable users to work at home, on the road, or at the office to connect in a secure fashion to a remote server using the Internet. The VPN acts as a point-to-point connection between their computer and a corporate server, according to Microsoft. When the VPN is used, it appears that the data being sent is appearing over a private link.  

VPNs enable organization that replaces long distance dial-up, leased lines with local dial-up, or leased lines to an Internet provider. VPNs can also be used to connect securely with business partners or clients. Many investigative journalists use VPNs when reporting on important stories.

VPNs aren’t just used by top-secret spies and journalists; they can be beneficial to everyone who uses the Internet.

What a VPN can’t be used for

VPNs are not the solution to every kind of encryption that is desired. If someone lives in a restrictive country with many government restrictions, it can be difficult to entirely evade government restrictions with a VPN. It doesn’t protect all cases, especially if the government has installed malware on a computer to monitor activity.

VPNs also don’t necessarily protect against advertisers. Websites are aware of visitors and use of a site. With that being said, it is difficult to have immunity against advertisers.

How to choose a VPN that is best for you

VPNs used to be far more complicated to access. Nowadays, VPN providers have a one-click process that gets users up-and-running in a matter of seconds. There are many services to choose from, which makes it difficult to choose which one is the best. There are many free options and some options cost. So how does one choose what is best for their Internet surfing needs?

The first thing to look at is how much data a VPN collects. Some collect as little as possible and some have access to more data. Some services discard these data logs after a few hours or days and some hold onto the logs for months.

Tech Radar credits Express VPN as the best VPN service in 2018. It is fairly inexpensive ($6.67 for 15 months) and there is a 3-month trial with and annual plan. There are many tutorials they offer for beginners and it is a user-friendly VPN service.

CyberGhost is a great VPN also because there is a free option and it offers connections over 1800 servers and in 60 countries around the world.

There are many options to choose from depending on a users needs. It is important to understand tools that can be used when surfing the Internet such as VPN.

One thought on “Understanding the fundamentals of VPNs

  1. VPN is a dire need for a person like me. Since i have to visit this to that country, I need a fast smartphone and a fast VPN

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