In an era where various cybercrimes such as data theft, harassment and bullying, online stalking and others are rampant, online privacy and security is a top security concern. The need for online security has become more vital in the past few years, especially with increase in the number of people who have to rely on public networks to access sensitive data from remote locations.
A number of solutions can be implemented to increase online security. However, none are as effective as using secure VPN services. VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a technology that provides users with a secure connection over networks they are connected to. It encrypts any data sent over the network, ensuring it cannot be accessed by unauthorized users.
VPNs are common among businesses, corporations and organizations whose employees have to access sensitive data from remote locations. However, it has become increasingly popular among individuals who wish to protect their online privacy.
While there are other technologies you can use to increase your network security, VPN offers better security and several other benefits to the users, especially when using WLAN networks. Below is a look at the benefits of using secure VPN services.
Virtual private networks offer a secure network connection by encrypting the traffic between your device and the website or server you are connecting to. They use various protocols such as PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunneling protocol), SSL (Secure Socket Layer), L2TP (Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol), and IPsec (Internet Protocol Security) to secure a network and encrypt the data sent over it. This makes it hard for unauthorized users to hack into the network.
In case of a network breach, the encryption of data ensures that it is not accessed by authorized users; the data appears as jumbled text, symbols and numbers. Secure VPN services are thus great for accessing personal information and sensitive data over unsecured networks such as free public Wi-Fi networks offered in coffee shops and airports.
Over the past few years, there has been an increase in the hacking incidences. Internet users have been forced to take various online security precautions to increase their online privacy. Secure VPN services allow users to surf the internet in complete anonymity by encrypting the data sent between their computers and the websites and website applications they access. This makes it impossible for anyone monitoring your activity to view what you are doing.
VPN also allows you to change or hide your IP address, making it impossible to tell where you are accessing the internet from. Since most hackers rely on IP addresses to hack their victims, this makes it hard to hack into your computer.
Hiding your IP address also makes it difficult for anyone to track your location when you are surfing the internet. This can help to protect you from online stalking, or from illegal surveillance.
Remote data access
Secure VPN services are used by organizations to provide employees with access to their data from remote locations. The VPNs use public network infrastructures to provide remote users with a secure connection through which they can connect to an organization’s network and access data with minimal risks of a security breach.
Remote data access using virtual private networks has made it possible for employees to travel and work from all over the world. Corporations and organizations have also been able to set up offices in remote locations, and communicate effectively without the risk of losing sensitive data.
Reduced network infrastructure costs
There are other solutions that companies and organizations can use to create secure connections, for example, use of dedicated private networks with help of satellites or dedicated fiber optic links. However, these services are expensive to build and maintain. Secure VPN services allow company to reduce the cost of building secure connections by using the already existing public network infrastructures.
Maintenance costs for secure connections offered by virtual private networks are also considerably lower compared to other alternatives. In case of a problem, you only need to contact the VPN provider to receive the required support.
It provides flexibility to an organization’s network infrastructure as the organization continues to grow. Since a VPN taps into the available public infrastructures, an organization can easily deploy a new network to serve its offices.
Accessing restricted websites
For individual users, VPNs are a great way of accessing blocked online content. This is of great benefit to in countries where Internet censorship is used by law enforcement agencies. These agencies block users from accessing websites or website applications through a technique called geo-blocking (blocking access based on the location). Secure VPN services allow you to hide your location, and bypass the Internet filters by tricking them that you are accessing the content from another location.
What to look for in a secure VPN service?
When choosing a virtual private network provider, there are certain features that you should consider to ensure you get the best online security solution. These include:
1. Protocols offered
There are four main protocols that are used by secure VPN services to secure network connections – PPTP, L2TP, SSL, and IPsec. These protocols have different pros and cons depending on the level of security offered, ease in configuration and connection problem you can experience when using them.
2. Server locations
Secure VPN services use servers to connect the users to the existing public infrastructure networks. The location of the server can have an effect on the latency of your network. Therefore, you should choose a VPN provider with servers that are located close to your location.
Performance, in the form of bandwidth limit, is another feature you should consider when choosing VPN provider. The network chosen should provide you with ample bandwidth, which will allow you to connect to the internet at an optimal speed.
4. Additional security features
While virtual private networks are a great way of securing your network connections, they can still be vulnerable to unauthorized remote access and other security threats such as viruses, malware and spyware that exist in the network infrastructure. When choosing a VPN, the most effective solution would be to go for a service that offers additional security features such as firewall, to ensure a higher level of protection
Cost is another factor to consider when choosing a virtual private network. There are different types of VPNs you can consider, from the free ones to the paid services. Free services allow you to connect to the internet free of charge, but the level of security offered is usually very low. Paid service on the other hand offers a higher level of security, access to support services, additional security features, and better performance.
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