In this age of digital communication, your data may be vulnerable to entities such as hackers who might hack down your communication data and put you in an embarrassing moment.
So what exactly is a VPN?
The acronym stands for Virtual Private Network. A VPN is used to encrypt your data and to add a layer of privacy to protect your identity.
In other words, a VPN is a service that allows you to access the web safely and privately by routing your connection through a server and thereby hiding your online actions.
How to set up a VPN?
The best way to set up VPN is to connect it with your router. In that case there is no need to set up individual VPN apps on your cell phone, laptops etc. Whether your router is VPN compatible or not can be checked from the website of the manufacturer.
Most DD-WRT and Tomato-boosted Flash Routers are compatible with VPNs. You have to be very careful while installing VPN Android or iOS mobile applications as study reveals that 38% of those apps include malware, 84% leak users’ traffic and 75% use tracking libraries.
A cost of 3-5 USD per month is what you have to shed if you want to take the benefits of a VPN service.
How does a VPN work?
Here comes the next most important question i.e. how does a VPN work?
As a user, you start the VPN client (software) from your VPN service. The main task of the service is to secure your online activities by encryption much before your ISP (Internet Service Provider) can notice it.
The data then goes from the VPN server to your online destination – anything from banking transaction to video sharing or search engine. The online destination sees your data coming to the secure VPN server and its location and not the server of your ISP or its location for that matter. Hence you can access with full freedom while staying anonymous.
If the purpose of web browsing is simply for fun then there is nothing to worry about. But if you are accessing sensitive information like online banking or business email or an internet based research that you want to keep classified then it’s a different story.
Establishing a VPN server solves our problems in the following ways:
- The server you are accessing sees the VPN server and not you or your ISP.
- Identifying your computer and your web activities i.e. what websites you are visiting, what data you are transferring etc.
- Even if someone tries to sneak peak your web activities, he/she can only see the encrypted form and not the raw data. `
Are VPN above the law?
Not exactly! While the VPN company will do everything to secure your web browsing history, depending upon the country where the VPN server is located, the courts of the country can issue orders to disclose any data it deems necessary for investigation.
Is it legal to use VPN?
Yes, but not always. The advent of VPN concept is very new and thus the laws surrounding it can be interpreted in many ways. There is no problem in using VPN servers in major western countries; however it is not okay in countries like China, Turkey, Iraq, United Arab Emirates, Belarus, Oman, Russia, Iran, North Korea, and Turkmenistan.