VPN: What is it, what is it for and how do you use a Virtual Private Network?

Security and anonymity are two very desirable features in our connections. For this reason, the VPN or virtual private network is a service that is being accessed more and more.

This is a network that masks our IP address while giving us great security by encrypting the information, becoming a direct access tunnel to our destination.

Of course, in this post we are going to tell you in detail what it is and how it works, as well as letting you know, of course, what are its advantages and disadvantages, the types that exist, the uses that we can give them, we teach you how to configure your own network and, of course, we give you our recommendations so that you can try some of these free services and get to know better, and in practice, what a virtual private network consists of.

What is a VPN and how does it work?

VPN stands forvirtual private network“. This refers to a computer network technology whose main feature is to serve as a secure extension to a LAN that is over another uncontrolled network.

In this way, a computer connected to this network will be able to send and receive information about other networks, whether public or shared, in the same way as if it were part of a private network, including its management policies, security and functionality.

For this to occur, a virtual point-to-point connection must be made using encryption and/or dedicated connections.

Of course, we can get several devices to connect to each other within the same network without the need for cables, making it possible to communicate and exchange information with security and privacy.

To be able to create, configure and use a VPN, the following is required, at least:

  • Possibility of user verification. This prevents access to unauthorized persons. Thus, an absent-minded user will not be able to enter a company virtual private network, a paying user will not be able to access one who has not paid a fee, etc.
  • Access control. Likewise, specific access must be given to one or another place and data.
  • Activity log. The network provider will have a record of the use of the network by time, users and usage.
  • Data encryption method. There must be a way in which the information is encrypted so that it can be transmitted with the certainty that it cannot be interpreted if it is intercepted. For this purpose, certain encryption algorithms such as 3DES or AES are used. With them, the data is only read by the sender and the receiver.
  • Integration of the data. We must make it possible for the data to remain unchanged throughout its journey.
  • Introduction of the SEAL security algorithm.
  • Key maintenance. Encryption must be continually updated, with an efficient and gentle key management system in place.
  • Undeniable signature. Messages are signed and this fact cannot be denied.

The operation of this resource is quite simple. In a conventional way, to access any page you contact your IPS, that is, the internet provider with which you have the connection contracted. This is the one that, through its servers, attends to your demands and launches them where they belong. This means that, obviously, you will be seen by him.

When you use a virtual private network, you make a call to a VPN server, whose connection is encrypted. This ensures that your ISP does not see the data being sent by you; in their eyes, it is the VPN server that is requesting access to the sites, not you. It’s kind of like a mask we put on to make it look good for us.

Obviously, we must not forget that masks are held up by thin rubber bands and that, therefore, it is not that we are invisible or anonymous, we simply have one more layer to cover ourselves with.

Why use a VPN server and what advantages does it have?

An IP address is a number that is assigned to devices that connect to a network in order to identify them. This feature makes them very dangerous, because anyone with access to that information could find out personal data about any of us.

Therefore, using a VPN should start to be a priority for any Internet user today, as the benefits they do not provide are obvious:

  • You will be able to circumvent the geographical censorship of the Internet, as we can choose a server hosted in the country of our choice.
  • They hide your IP address in such a way that no one can decode it to get information from it without your authorization.
  • Protects you from the risks of using public WiFi networks as all traffic passing through your device will be insured.
  • It will be easy for you to avoid the bandwidth limitations that phone companies use to insist on more expensive plans.
  • You avoid firewall blocks because your encrypted IP will not be applied as easily.
  • It protects you from the risks of downloading content via P2P, especially when it is pirated content since no one will be able to know your Internet Protocol address.
  • Using a VPN can also enhance your online gaming experience by circumventing geographical blocks to access content unique to certain countries.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of using a Virtual Private Network when surfing the Internet and changing your ip?

A priori, we see that this resource is the sea of interest. However, before continuing, it would be better to know, point by point, its good and bad things, so that we can be very clear about everything and consider its hiring and use without having any doubts about what we are going to obtain and what we are exposed to. Let us see it.

Benefits and advantages

Of course, enjoying this service has many good things:

  • Compatible with any application. All internet traffic is routed, which makes the VPN connection possible in any application.
  • Simple connection. You only have to set up the connection once and then you can connect and disconnect at will without any difficulty. And you can do it from different devices in different places.
  • More security. Security is increased, allowing us to send information privately, hide our identification data (IP, location), not be so exposed when we connect to public networks, etc.
  • Fake location. This allows us, besides not being related to a specific place, to access forbidden places in the place we are or, simply, to resources available in other locations.
  • Hiding activity. With a VPN the internet provider will no longer know what you are doing with their service. However, it should not be forgotten that the VPN manager does.
  • Economic. Virtual private networks are cheaper than other resources that are used to satisfy some of the same needs that we are working on here.

Risks and disadvantages

On the other hand, we also find some negative aspects to consider:

  • User tracking. There are services that track the user to get information to design their usage and navigation statistics; these are generally the free ones. Keep an eye on this aspect if you do not want your activity to be used to reveal your consumption habits on the net, although nobody is going to point you out directly, of course.
  • Connection slowdown. This is a direct consequence of information encryption.
  • Misinformation. Location cannot always be achieved by misrepresentation. This is much more difficult if you connect from your mobile phone, as it is on the move and connects to various networks, storing that information without you even knowing it.
  • Passable security. We hit one more layer of security, but it’s not impenetrable.

What is a VPN network for and what are its real benefits?

We’ve already seen what it’s for, on a general level. However, its operation can be useful in very different tasks, which makes it a resource used by users with very different needs. Let’s see the clearest utilities it is given.

Consumption of restricted content

The VPN will serve you to consume all kinds of content that, in one way or another, has been restricted to you. We are talking about the one that is not available, for various reasons, in your country, as was Netflix years ago in Spain or as happens with Facebook in China today.

This way, if in the place where you are you cannot enjoy them, you falsify your address to make believe that you are in another place where they are accessible.

This is also where the restrictions placed on us by special circumstances come in, either by the ISP itself or by lower levels (for example, library computers that do not allow access to video viewing sites so as not to consume all the bandwidth). With VPN the data is encrypted, so you don’t know which sites you are accessing.

P2P Downloads

P2P downloads are not always easy, and this is largely due to the boycott by Internet providers, who block or at least make it difficult for you to download content.

Why? Well, first of all, you are generating a lot of traffic, and although its limits are practically incalculable, the truth is that they multiply the bandwidth of thousands and thousands of customers means that, in the end, this can be reduced.

On the other hand, there is, of course, the fact that some of your downloads are illegal. Nothing happens to anyone, it is assumed, but in case you were investigated for it, your provider would be consequently harassed by the authorities.

For both reasons, what is done is to block the navigation in certain sites, the download of torrents, of the management software of these, etc. or to slow down so much the navigation and the use that we are ourselves those who desist and stop making downloads in the P2P networks.

The VPN connection will help you to avoid this kind of nonsense and to download as much as you want from this method.

Tasks with sensitive information

This is not always the case but what is common and what is increasingly offered to be competitive is packet data encryption. With this you can make use of sensitive information, such as your bank access data, from an unprotected network without exposing them.

Teleworking

Teleworking with unencrypted connections is highly insecure; you’d be connecting to the company network from an open or, at best, home network, easily hacked.

With this resource, you figure out the connection and, at the same time, you enjoy the same information that you have at your workplace, in the work network.

Types of VPNs that exist

As you can imagine there are many types of VPNs, this resource can be offered in multiple ways, although the essence is always the same. Thus, we can make different classifications of it according to its base, its architecture or the connection that is used.

According to architecture

The VPN architectures that we can find in which a private connection is offered are the following:

Remote Access

Users authenticate themselves to connect remotely where appropriate, accessing in a similar way as they would in the local network itself.

With the remote access VPN, the dial-up infrastructures that have been used for so many years and that are based on telephone lines and modems are replaced.

Point to point

The server is permanently linked to the Internet, being able to accept remote connections coming from authorized sites (remote offices) to connect to a central office.

Each branch server is connected through the services of a local Internet provider, so that the traditional wired point-to-point expense is reduced.

Tunneling

With this technique, the network protocols are encapsulated one above the other, creating what is defined as a “network tunnel”, a tunnel that appears in a computer network. This requires a protocol data unit, or PDU, to go into another encapsulated PDU.

With this method we achieve a given routing of data packets over a set of intermediate nodes, which cannot fully know the content of these. The tunnel created is defined by the two ends. The communication protocol used is SSH, which ensures the encryption of the information.

Over LAN

It is similar to a VPN with remote access, except that it uses the local network of the hub instead of the Internet to make connections.

With the over LAN we can isolate both services and areas of the internal network, which is an improvement in the security that we can offer with the use of wireless networks.

Depending on what they are based on

On the other hand, it would not be superfluous to indicate that we can also make a classification according to what the VPSs are based on.

In this case we would find those that are customer-based and those that are web-based:

Customer-based

The user connects to a remote network using an application, requiring user and password information. Thus, a team-network channel is created that will be encrypted and will serve to carry out a secure data exchange.

Web-based

A connection between different networks using the Internet is allowed.

Connection types

And since we are talking about connection, we cannot continue without mentioning the types that also exist in relation to this resource:

Remote Access

A user connects, with a computer, to a private area network. The packets are originated by the remote access client, which must authenticate itself to the server dedicated to work for it on that network, and vice versa.

Router to router

The connection is made by router and it is this element that connects to the private network. In this case, the connection is characterized by the fact that the packets sent will not originate from these devices; they are only authenticated when making and answering connection calls.

Firewall to firewall

A firewall establishes the connection and connects to a private network. The data packets that are sent can be given by any user who is using the Internet at the time. Authentication is given between a calling and a responding firewall.

In mobile environments

It is given if the point at which the VPN must end is not fixed to a single IP address, but moves between several.

They are ideal when you want to keep the session, something that is increasingly in demand nowadays, which means that you are working hard on this aspect to get a reliable resource.

How to create and configure your own VPN server Quick Guide to Connection

We have already seen that a VPN connection is a way of connecting to a virtual private network, using the Internet, so that computers do not have to be interconnected. For this reason, many people decide to create their own server with VPN.

This is not too complicated so, of course, below we will see a small tutorial to do it ourselves, but differentiating some operating systems from others.

On iPhone and iPad with iOS

If you’re interested in using a VPN on your own iPhone or iPad tablet You’ll be able to connect to your work just by having a battery and a good connection. This will allow you to do small tasks without the need to use a computer, which is becoming more and more common.

  1. For iPhone and iPad tablets with iOS, VPN applications come directly with a configuration profile. Therefore, a profile can be automatically configured by entering the “System Settings”.
  2. Once you are in the “Settings” section, go to the “General” section.
  3. Inside it, access “VPN“.
  4. From this menu you will start to create a new VPN connection by entering the details of the service provider and the type of access to that connection.
  5. When everything is complete, click on the “Save” option.
  6. Test the operation of the connection, which, if all went well, should be perfect.

On Android smartphone

In the case of devices with the Android operating system, the procedure to follow is extremely simple, since the OS itself has its own VPN client for Android.

  1. You must enter “Settings“.
  2. Go to Wireless and Networking.
  3. Now to “More” or “Other“.
  4. Then click on “VPN“.
  5. Select “Add New VPN” or simply “+”.
  6. Fill in the name of the connection and the guy you’re interested in. My recommendation is that you put in PPTP.
  7. Then fill in the server host data.
  8. Click on “Save“.
  9. Now you can try to access the VPN to check that it is correctly configured. It will appear with the other WiFi networks you have listed.

Another option is to make use of a third party application, which there are and which have no more mystery than being downloaded from Play Store, installed and configured.

In Windows 10

Windows 10 has made it easy to set up a VPN server, so you can do it in a few simple steps without having a lot of knowledge.

  1. Initially, we must know these facts:
    • IP address of the VPN server.
    • VPN service provider. We recommend using a free service before contracting any premium service, at least until you know how this resource works.
    • Name of the connection and user name and password of the VPN account.
  2. You must then log on with an administrator account in Windows 10.
  3. Go to the “Network and Internet” section.
  4. Access the “System Settings“.
  5. Click on the “Add a VPN Connection” button.
  6. Now it’s time to enter all the information we’ve got initially: provider, connection name, IP address, VPN type (we recommend selecting PPTP because it’s the most used) and the login type (the best option is to put username and password).
  7. With the connection created, you must access it to check that it has been done correctly and that it can be accessed easily via WiFi.

For Mac computers

Setting up a VPN on a Mac if you’re not used to operating it is not as intuitive as with the Windows operating system. Therefore, our recommendation is to follow the steps below to do it correctly.

  1. First, you must go to the “LaunchPad”.
  2. From there, access the “System Preferences” section.
  3. Within it, you have to choose the category “Network”.
  4. A window opens with the parameters that must be filled in for the VPN connection to become effective.
  5. In this screen, we place ourselves in the lower left part and click on the “+” button.
  6. In the new window that opens, check the option “VPN”.
  7. It is at this point that we choose the type of VPN network to be created.
  8. The data you have initially provided is then filled in.
  9. Once you have done that, click on the “Connect” button. If everything has gone well, the connection will be effective without any problem from that very moment.

In Linux

Although we all consider the Linux operating system to be very complex, in this case we are looking at a very simple connection tutorial. The following steps can be used for any OS distribution and the options will have the same meaning between them.

  1. First, open the terminal and run the command “$ sudo apt-get install network-manager-vpnc“. This way, we will get a necessary package.
  2. We open the “Networking” menu.
  3. Within it, we choose “VPN Connections“.
  4. Here, we give the option to “Set up a new VPN“.
  5. Click on the “Add“, “Add” or “Import” button.
  6. Next:
    • Click on “Import saved VPN settings“. Extract and import the file with your VPN information.
    • Or, if you don’t have one yet, simply fill in the data after clicking on the “Create” option.
  7. In the “Advanced Settings” tab, “TTLS Authentication” should be selected.
  8. Once the data has been recorded, click on “OK” and a VPN connection can be created.

What are the differences between a VPN and a Proxy?

These terms are often confused because both can perform the masking of our IP. However, we must say that this is the only function of the proxy; this, unlike the virtual private network, does not encrypt the information or provide security of any kind, it only makes requests in our place.

It should also be noted that there is a big difference in application compatibility. While the proxy would be used only in browsers and a few previously chosen applications capable of setting up an advanced connection, the virtual private network offers compatibility with any type of software by being able to route all traffic.

What is the difference between APN and VPN?

Although the concept is similar in its acronym, it has nothing to do with the one we are dealing with today. An APN is an access point (access pont name) used to connect to a network in any operator. The general rule is that this point consists of a user name and a password that must be entered.

This point is between an existing interface between a particular network, for example, a mobile network, and the general Internet network. It is usually configured automatically, but if this is not the case, the manual option may be required.

We have already seen that it is a network mounted on another network. It is not a point and it is usually mounted between device and server.

We can make a comparison to say that an APN is like a door and a VPN is a corridor, but they are not related at all, one does not lead to the other. The only thing in common is that they require verification so that the user in question can have access but the resources themselves are two totally different things.

Features to consider before hiring or using a free or paid VPN

Of course, we have to take into account some aspects. Some will be decisive, others will simply add value. In any case, we will have to consider them in order to choose the service that best suits what we need.

Let’s start by checking whether the VPNs we are considering have a record to which we relate an IP and an identifying mark of their users. We need to see what exact information is recorded.

It is also interesting to know the tools used to monitor the service. In many cases, the relationship with external suppliers can also be important: if they work directly with some, with all of them, what is the process if a DMCA-type request is received?

For many stakeholders, file sharing between servers is the main reason for getting a VPN, so it is necessary to know what forms of file traffic exist.

If you use a payment service, you may also want to know whether the payment method can be used to find out the identity of the user.

List of the 5 best free VPN connection services for private browsing on the WWW

Considering aspects such as whether data is recorded, how and for how long,m monitoring tools, the use of external providers or the reaction of the VPN to certain circumstances we have been able to create a top of best VPN connection services that are free, so that you can try them out without having to marry anyone.

ProtonVPN

Some features:

  • You can also get a version for 8 euros a month and another for 24 euros.

Advantages:

  • The whole system is internal, not having to use parts from anyone outside the corporation, which is a safety bonus.
  • There is P2P traffic without limitation.
  • Being based in Switzerland gives us an extra measure of security in terms of privacy.

Inconveniences:

  • The time stamp of the last successful connection attempt is monitored, but then overwritten.
  • You can connect simultaneously on only 2 devices.

TunnelBear

Some features:

  • Although it is free, there is a premium version that costs $5 (and up), with its corresponding improvements.
  • It is compatible with Windows and MacOS as well as Android and iOS.

Advantages:

  • It can be used on up to 5 devices.
  • He likes it very much because of its good speed, which, in the best case, reaches 12 MB per second.
  • Vigilant Mode is ideal to be safe on our public network connections, as it blocks all kinds of suspicious content.
  • It is very easy to install, as is its interface, so it is an ideal option for those who do not pilot too much.

Inconveniences:

  • As a limitation, to consider, we have that their servers work only from Germany, Canada, United States, France, Japan and United Kingdom as well as from Australia with the paid version.
  • The data limit is 500 MB, although you have the option to tweet about it to double this amount.

CyberGhost

Some features:

  • It has a payment version of 5.99 per month for a one-year subscription, reduced to 3.5 euros if you pay for two years at once.
  • It works in MacOS and Windows.

Advantages:

  • Privacy is such that your Internet provider cannot recognize what you are visiting.
  • There is no limit to the number of megabytes you can consume in your browsing experience, which is why it is the preferred option for those who consume a lot of streaming video.
  • It’s operational from Spain.
  • You can connect from 5 devices.

Inconveniences:

  • It has automatic shutdown after three hours, which means you have to log in again.
  • To use it on mobile devices we must get the paid version.
  • Ditto for high-speed sailing.
  • More so if you are interested in browsing sites that are blocked according to your location.

Hide.me

Some features:

  • You can subscribe to a payment option of 4 euros or 8, depending on the Plus or Premium plans. In addition, you get a 45% discount for making an annual payment; very to consider.
  • The option is available for free from a device.
  • We can use this free VPN on Android, iOS, Windows and macOS.

Advantages:

  • You have access to the sites that are blocked in your country.
  • You have a more than interesting bandwidth, being ideal for the user who enjoys consultations in several networks.

Inconveniences:

  • There is a data transfer limit, although this is quite generous compared to TunnelBear, as we achieved the 2 GB.

Windscribe

Some features:

  • You also have a choice of two payment options of $9 and $4.

Advantages:

  • There is no limit to the number of devices on which the same account can be used.
  • It includes a firewall that helps us avoid malware and a blocker with which to say goodbye to invasive ads.

Inconveniences:

  • It has only 11 servers, although each one is from a different country.
  • It has a data limitation, although it is quite loose, of 10 GB per month.

Are Internet connections via VPN 100% secure and private?

Encrypted connections via virtual private networks are far more secure than most, but they still have their moles that need to be covered to achieve total perfection in terms of communications security.

There are so-called DNS leaks that can reveal a lot of user information. These are generated when certain data is leaked outside the VPN tunnel, and are a recurring problem in all virtual private networks, especially in free ones.

Free VPNs have also been accused of selling customer information to advertising companies, which is basically like being scammed because they sell the data they are supposedly encrypting. That’s why it’s always best to get a paid license from any provider.

What dangers exist in public Wi-Fi networks and why should you always use a VPN server?

Public wireless networks are a real temptation for any user, especially those who don’t have much data on their monthly plan. However, they can be more risky than people think.

The first thing you should be clear about is that when a device connects to a WiFi network, it also communicates with the other devices in the network indirectly. A sufficiently skilled person can get between the router and one of the devices and access the data as it travels through the radio spectrum in what is known as a “Man in the middle” attack.

This is one of the biggest incentives to use VPN networks since they encrypt all traffic and when someone tries to interpret it they can’t because everything is perfectly encrypted.

This post is also available in: Português (Portuguese (Brazil))

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