Virtual Private Networks or VPNs are widely used today in business to connect remote workers to their offices and protect the communications between the company servers and the end user’s machine, but there is another use of VPNs that is becoming more mainstream. A VPN simply put is an encrypted tunnel between two computers or networks. Businesses use them so that their communication is protected, and their standards of security are maintained. In the past, the average user has not needed this protection, but as time goes on and more information is being stored digitally at home and in the cloud, the need to keep that data safe is increasing.
Any time you are on the internet, you are connecting to servers all over the world and while many websites offer some level of security through certificates, a great deal of what you send to the internet is not secure. The risk is even greater when you are away from home. For example, if you go to a coffee shop and connect to their free Wi-Fi, you are trusting that their network is secure and that no bad actors are sitting on the same network waiting to trace everything you do. This is where VPNs come into play.
Today, there are many services that offer VPN for internet traffic. If you are at that coffee shop and connect to their Wi-Fi, your traffic is going through their network, then their internet service, and on until it reaches whatever website you are browsing. If you connect to a VPN service, as soon as you get on that network your traffic instead is encrypted before it leaves your PC. It is then sent out through the tunnel to a trusted server that has increased security before it is relayed to its destination. This makes it much less likely that the traffic will be intercepted by anyone wishing to steal your data.
There are other benefits to using a VPN service. Many of the companies out there offer additional protection like ad blocking and anti-virus in the same way that businesses with powerful and expensive firewalls do. For home use, there are also personal firewalls you can purchase that will connect to your VPN provider of choice automatically and protect all traffic from all computers, phones, and tablets in your home.
The important thing to do when choosing a VPN service is to research them. You can find information and reviews on several tech websites that will compare security, cost, reliability, and other factors. While there are free VPN services out there it is best to avoid them. At best they will have fewer features and at worst they could be run by the very bad actors that you are trying to protect yourself from. The bottom line is to be safe online. A VPN can help but be sure when making the choice of provider that you know as much as you can.
Have any questions about VPN services for your organization? Please contact us at any time!