25 April 2013

Comprehensive Understanding about VPN: Why You Need To Use VPN?

Security? BIG word. Don’t we need security for as long as we live? We need this as much as we desire for food. This food is the information we humans are programmed to intake each day. We grow and we live with information. But there’s certain information that we just can’t share referred to as private, thus in need of security


 The internet is an abundant market susceptible to hacking and information stealing. We therefore need solution to this predicament. It is VPN. This article might enlighten you about VPNs as we go through.


Internet VPN Model


Understanding VPN

WHAT is VPN?

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. A VPN is a private network that uses a public network (like the internet) to connect remote sites or users together. It enables host computers to send and receive data over a public or shared network as if it’s a part of a private network.

VPN uses a virtual connection routed through the internet from and to a business office to its employees or remote sites. This is possible by establishing a virtual point-to-point connection with the use of dedicated connection, encryption, or both. Thus, by using VPN a business establishment is assured to have fast, reliable ad secured connection.


Aside from VPN there are other options that can provide your security needs. A leased line is one of the first to establish connections from remote sites. It connects two locations for a private data telecommunication service. A concrete example is the ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) from which telecommunication companies could lease to its customers.

Though it is effective, leased lines are costly and as the distance grows afar the cost also rises. Hence, VPN came out into the picture as an effective replacement at low cost. VPN uses the internet as a tool to connect over an unsecured network in a manner that emulates the properties of a point-to-point private link. This enables user working at home, on the road, or at a branch office to connect in a secure fashion to a remote corporate server using the Internet.

How do VPN work?

For better understanding, here’s an illustration on how VPN works.

VPN provides security mechanism that encrypt and encapsulate private network traffic as it move through an intermediate network. To establish confidentiality, data is encrypted, any interception that might  occur on the shared and public network are indecipherable unless correct encryption keys are available. 

Data is encapsulated, or wrapped, with an IP header that contains routing information.

Image from http://www.uktvinspain.net/web_images/vpn.png
Suppose you are living in an island where the only means of transportation is by a ferry. Passengers along with you can see all your actions, thus giving you no security and travelling in a public ferry is time consuming. The island represents a LAN and the ocean is the internet. Travelling by a ferry is like connecting to a web server or a LAN. Now a salesperson introduced you to his product, a submarine. The submarine is fast, accessible, reliable, gives you privacy, it is a bit costly but you sure can afford it. So you bought it. The submarine act as the VPN.

Although you’re travelling in the ocean along with other traffic, the people could travel between islands whenever they wanted to with privacy and security. Now that’s what I call invisible. Members of your network can securely communicate with reliability using the internet as the medium to connect the private LAN. Furthermore, VPNs can easily connect various geographic locations worldwide and distance is not a hindrance at all..

Types of VPN

VPNs can be either remote-access (connecting an individual computer to a network) or site-to-site (connecting two networks together).

Remote-access VPN - allows an individual user to connect to a private business network from a remote location using a laptop or desktop computer connected to the Internet. It provides access to the resources of the network to which the VPN server is connected. The packets sent across the VPN connection originate at the VPN client.

Site-to-Site VPN - connects two portions of a private network or two private networks. For example, two separate offices or organizations able to have routed connections over the internet. This logically operates as a dedicated WAN link.

VPN AVANTAGES
  • Cost Savings 
  1. Eliminates usage of expensive leased lines
  2. Reduce communication charges such as long distance calls
  3. Saves support costs such as maintenance
  • Scalability
As the organization grows it also demand for more private connections. Suppose the company expanded from two (2) branches into four (4) or more branches and using leased lines is quite expensive to cater each connections needed.

Internet based VPNs avoid this scalability problem by simply tapping into the public lines and network capability available. For cases like international companies with branches globally, an Internet VPN offers superior reach and quality of service.

VPN DISADVANTAGES


As the VPN established its name to the public over the years; probable “weak points” are easy to forget. The following are the VPN solutions that are often raised to address the matter.

1.  For proper deployment and safety measures, VPNs call for an in-depth understanding of public network security issues.

2. Standard compatibility must be considered by different vendors so that VPN technologies work well together.

3. Factors like availability and performance of an organization’s wide-area VPN (over the internet) is largely outside of their control.

4. Accommodation of other protocols other than IP and existing internal network technology. 

Advocates push cost saving as the primary advantage of this technology but on the other hand;
detractors consider these four factors the “hidden costs” of VPN solution, pointing it as the primary
disadvantage of VPNs.


VPN Users and Purposes

VPN are not only used by businesses and/or organizations alone. Private individuals such as you can actually use this for various purposes.
  • Students and Individual Workers – this are persons who’s VPN are provided by their schools and/or employees attending to their daily obligations. They access resources using private network as remote user whenever they’re at home working or traveling.
  • Downloaders – uses VPN to enjoy free downloads without worrying about legalities. Besides no one wants to get caught stealing illegal files and defending yourself in court will surely stress you up.
  • The Privacy and Security Minded – this are individuals that are sensitive to privacy and security. They’re highly publicized persons such as government officials who are protecting information and securing communication away from the public. Persons such as business owners whose transactions are vital, needs security in order to limit their resources from other business competitors access.
  • The globetrotter – This person access location-restricted internet radio or TV show streaming sites or the like by physical location spoofing. The user’s IP address is replaced by a VPN provider that allows bypass content filters. Now, one may live in the Philippines but appear to be living in Texas slipping through government filters and enjoying these services.
  • Mixed Combination – you can be a combination of any of the above or all of the above depending on what you want to do with your VPN connection. VPN can give you a help whenever you wanted it and whatever you want to do about it.
TOP VPN PROVIDERS

The following are the top VPN providers based on reviews according to services offered, security protocols, performance, server locations, ease of connection and costs. 

Although this is based on research and my point of view, these are helpful suggestions that you could choose from and might consider when purchasing VPN. This is an independent opinion and I was not being paid by any of this provider nor not in my intention to harm the providers’ credibility.

1.IPVanish – provides better performance at low cost. Offers unlimited VPN at $10 a month. It spans 3,500 IP’s with more than 100+ VPN servers in 43 countries and growing. There North America and Europe VPN servers are quite faster than other services. Switching between server locations, protocols and IP addresses anytime is easy. It allows you to configure DD-WRT router for entire network protection with a single account. Free VPN client for Windows and Mac and shows best performing server suggestions based on your location. The IPVanish client supports multiple VPN protocols including OpenVPN, PPTP and L2TP. According to VPNSP.com IPVanish is the fastest VPN provider having an achievement of 32.73 Mbps speed in the United States. Speed test in other countries like United Kingdom and Canada were also conducted and the result shows good performance as well. Special offers are given that saves you up to 20% off your first billing when using VPNSP20 coupon code and 7 day money back guarantee.

2. HideMyAss – is the most popular VPN provider in the market. It has the broadest server coverage amounting to 343 servers in 53 countries with approximately 40,500+ IP Addresses. Works well with protocols including OpenVPN, L2TP and PPTP. HMA VPN flexibility gives you the ability to choose the VPN server that supports specific protocol in a specific country, with this feature you can select the best protocol. OpenVPN run almost any application and uses library for OpenSSL encryption and authentication to provide maximum security, therefore among other protocols this is highly recommended. On the other hand, when using HideMyAss on mobile devices, L2TP, PPTP or IPSec is recommended instead. It offers unlimited VPN access with HMA Pro client from $6.55 a month.

3. PureVPN - not quite the size of the HMA network but PureVPN offers a solid, reliable service enclosed in a great price. PureVPN provides PPTP, L2TP, SSL and SSTP services including 128-bit encryption. It has been offering a range of VPN services for personal and corporate use in 19 countries with 50+ servers with over 12,000 IPs to hide behind. Speed test results up to 16.23 Mbps. Download up to 30 GB per month with a standard plans in an unlimited package at $9.95/month. It has additional support for DD-WRT router configuration and easy step-by-step tutorials guide you through set-up for Windows, Mac, Linux, Iphone and Android. Enables you to surf the internet with full anonymity on a secure VPN server connection behind a Firewall and allows you to secure Wi-Fi connection.

4. Strong VPN – is the largest VPN provider. It has been established for quite some time. It offers a fast and reliable VPN service. The only drawback about StrongVPN restricts number of servers and switches in a month. It has a standard OpenVPN GUI for easy client use and understanding. Strong VPN service is the standard OpenVPN technology with PPTP and L2TP protocols. It is consist of 300 good server networks located in 20 different countries. StrongVpn starts with a price of $7 with other full menu plans to choose from which can be excellent or confusing depending on your preference. The test speed shows a rate of 17.13 Mbps during test conducts.

5. VyprVPN - offers paid services with fast servers in seven different countries. Unlike other providing companies, VyprVPN doesn’t outsource its services rather managing it on their own. VPN runs using PPTP, OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec protocols. Its own committed network of servers are located across the globe in strategic locations namely in the USA, Canada, Europe and Asia in order to maximize speed. Bandwith usage has no limitations, no restrictions for users and allows you to access any of their servers globally at no cost added. Every server locations are set up to accept immense amount of user IP addresses to guarantee connections to your own VPN at all times whenever you demand to. Users enjoy their own 5GB dedicated online storage that is powered by Dump Truck, a cloud service run by VyprVPN owners. This gives you a secure web access, secure date sharing features and fast syncing. The cloud storage space is also accessible through dump truck’s mobile apps for iOS and Android. For $9.99 a month you get the standard package offering PPTP protection and 128-bit encryption, plus the Windows desktop app as well as full access to the VyprVPN network.

CONCLUSION
At this point you may think and plan to get your own VPN in order to secure your resources or just for your own fancy. VPN can definitely help you with your need of protection and security. No doubt it can. It’s either you can subscribe from a trusted VPN providers or enjoy free VPN products. Why not put that thinking into action by purchasing one now. Enjoy VPN’s offer and start to be invisible.

References:
1. Wikipedia
2. HowStuffWorks
3. LifeHacker

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