In today’s fast paced and technologically driven world we are become highly dependent on many different devices such as mobiles, laptops, smart-watches, etc. The applications ( or ‘apps’ as we like to call them) inside these gadgets is where we often find ourselves lingering around and jumping in and out of consciously or subconsciously. These simple tools help us in every step of the way to maneuver ourselves through the digital realm of our daily lives. From starting an online business to selling an existing one, streaming movies or live concerts and even shopping for all the things that you don’t really need yet you easily get them delivered right at your doorstep.
Probably by now it is safe to assume that perhaps there aren’t many things left in this world that cannot be done merely with the click of a button. However, do you even realize that while doing all this your digital footprints are being tracked and everything that you do on the internet can be traced back to you within a blink of an eye? Well, the latter part of the statement might be a bit of an exaggeration but it is true. Every single picture that you click, every website that you visit and all the other things that you do on the internet create digital footprints that can’t be wiped by any layman. Relax, there is no need to panic because this is exactly where a VPN comes in to save the day for you and perhaps many days ahead as well because the internet is the closest thing to immortality that we as a human race has discovered. Let’s try to understand what is this ‘VPN’ exactly and how can you protect not only yourself but also your friends and family member’s digital identity. This leads us to the question of….
What is a VPN?
A virtual private network (VPN) is a secure connection between your device and a secure network connected through the public internet. When you connect to the Internet using a VPN, it simply creates a secure connection between your device and a remote server.
It allows you to access the Internet through a secure connection even if you are on an unsecured network. Truly amazing isn’t it? If you use a public Wi-Fi network for instance, it can keep your connection secure and anonymous throughout your entire browsing process. It basically acts as an additional layer of privacy that provides secure access to the Internet by routing the connection through an encrypted server. A site-to-site VPN provides an encrypted server between the office network and stored data and information. Site-to-Site VPN enables the user to connect branch offices to the central office over the Internet when distance prevents a direct network connection.
How does a VPN work?
A VPN provides a secure and private connection between two points communicating on a network. It is a network created for the private use of a specific institution on a shared public infrastructure. It provides users with a virtual private network so that they can connect to the Internet safely and securely. It is a technology that creates a private encrypted ‘tunnel’ for your online activities, making it harder to see or monitor what you’re doing online All your online activity goes through a private entity so leave your VPN provider’s network for its intended purpose. The
secure private tunnel protects your data in transit to and from your computer and hides your IP address as well as your real location from anyone else that might try snooping on you. Once a VPN is activated, data passes over the Internet through a secure tunneling protocol, where it is encrypted so that third parties cannot read your data while it is in transit.
Additionally a VPN Connection allows you to surf the web through a remote server, hide your actual location and browsing history, and encrypt your data. It protects any device connected to a public Wi-Fi network from hackers and malware. It protects all your sensitive information like messages, pictures, passwords, etc. from unauthorized viewing or listening. In other words, a VPN protects your computer, smartphone, and any other internet-connected device from hackers and malware, while protecting all your personal data and communications from prying eyes. It provides a more secure way to connect to the Internet, protecting your online activities from being tracked.
What are the different types of VPN?
OpenVPN is a protocol that uses state-of-the-art virtual private network technologies to secure the two types of VPN connections mentioned above – site-to-site and point-to-point connections. Overall, OpenVPN is a comprehensive and secure tunneling protocol that is popular for both remote access and site-to-site VPNs.
Remote access VPNs are superior to other types of VPNs because remote access VPNs connect online users to the internet in a secure manner over a private network. When it comes to VPNs used by home users, they are all remote access VPNs
Site-to-Site VPNs are used to extend a company’s network to different locations. VPNs are powerful tools that allow you to connect and access private networks and home users remotely through VPN services. A site-to-site VPN is essentially a private network designed to hide private intranets and allow users of those secure networks to access each other’s resources. The benefit of using a Site-to-Site VPN is the privacy and security of any communication or activity that may occur between two specific networks owned by the same or different companies.
A site-to-site VPN can connect each of these office networks, allowing team members from both networks to securely access essential business files. Essentially, a site-to-site VPN creates a virtual bridge between networks in geographically dispersed locations and connects them over the Internet, and maintains secure and private communications between networks. A site-to-site VPN simulates a direct connection between two networks, allowing them to use private IP addresses for internal traffic.
Mobile VPNs are used in environments where the VPN endpoint is not tied to a single IP address, but instead roams across different networks, such as data networks from mobile operators, or between multiple Wi-Fi hotspots without session interruption Secure VPN or loss of application sessions. A VPN gives a remote user or site “internal” access because the VPN endpoint is located inside the network firewall, allowing authorized remote users to access those resources without making those resources public. A VPN is created by establishing a virtual point-to-point connection using dedicated circuits or tunneling protocols on existing networks.
Client- based VPNs are used by clients by setting up special TCP/IP or UDP protocols called tunneling protocols to make virtual calls to virtual ports on the VPN server. Rather than connecting a device to a single remote server, a site-to-site VPN (also known as a router-to-router VPN) allows multiple local area networks (LANs) to connect to each other securely over the public Internet.
The Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocols create a VPN connection in which the web browser acts as a client and the user’s access is limited to certain applications rather than the entire network. Both the network and client implementations create a secure tunnel through which encrypted traffic passes between networks. While large companies with multiple locations may require site-to-site VPN connectivity, client-side VPNs can be ideal for individual corporate users and telecommuters who need access to the core corporate network.
Am I being throttled by my ISP?
Now that we have a complete understanding about VPNs. It is time to address the other half of the elephant in the room by tackling one very significant query that rises in every users mind especially when they experience their internet connection suddenly getting slower compared to what it was initially. Many users come across a noticeable drop in speed while browsing, downloading or streaming. The root of this issue is your Internet Service Provider and the question that rightfully pops up in every users mind is “Am I being throttled?”
For those who aren’t aware about what throttling is or perhaps haven’t yet experienced this phenomena while surfing on the internet are surely about to get their brains wide open. Throttling is done by your Internet Service Provider with the intention of containing your internet usage by limiting it within a certain bandwidth. They may limit your internet connection during peak hours simply because the same service is used by a large number of users at the same time which is costing them more and this is actually one of their tactics to reduce their expenses.
How to check if you’re being throttled?
The first step in determining if your internet connection is limited is to perform an online speed test using one of the many free online speed measurement tools. A speed test can help you determine if your internet connection is being limited due to data limitation or underlying network congestion issues. You can use an internet speed test tool like Google Measurement Lab to check your current network speed or check internet blocking and throttling. You can also test your internet connection speed with a VPN because it will give you much more accurate readings.
Surprisingly, ISPs know when you’re testing your internet speed and suspend their regulation until your trial is over. However, if you suspect that your ISP is selectively restricting internet access based on your use of certain websites then the best way to be sure is to run a speed test using a virtual private network or VPN.
Unfortunately, most ISPs can detect speed tests and artificially increase your speed to give the impression that they are not limiting you.