Nearly everyone nowadays is using a VPN to safeguard their privacy and access blocked websites. But what exactly are these VPNs, and how do they function?
Virtual private networks (VPNs) are now widely recognized for enhancing online security. By directing your internet traffic through a secure server, VPNs play a crucial role in safeguarding your passwords and other sensitive personal information from prying eyes. This feature has also made VPNs valuable for tasks like accessing restricted content, browsing the web anonymously, and secure torrenting.
However, VPNs have more complexity than just connecting to a remote server. Let’s delve deeper into understanding VPNs, their operations, and essential considerations when selecting your next VPN service provider.
Why Do People Use VPN’s
VPNs serve various purposes, offering solutions for different needs. They prove useful for individuals working remotely or in different locations, allowing them to access company data through a shared network. Besides, VPNs provide internet users with anonymity by concealing their location and ensuring the privacy of online activities. Many people use VPNs to bypass location restrictions and access global content like films or the Lottoland lottery. This is achieved by selecting a different server location through the VPN, making it appear as if they are in another part of the world.
Let’s take the lottery as an example of using VPNs to bypass restrictions. Suppose someone wants to play the Spanish Christmas Lottery from the UK. As its name suggests, the Spanish Christmas Lottery is only for people from Spain. So, this person might use a VPN, choose Spain as his new location, and try to play. Usually, this will make it look like they are accessing the lottery’s website from Spain when they are actually doing so from the UK. And voilà! They just bypassed this restriction using a VPN.
Initially, VPNs were exclusively accessible to large businesses to enhance data security. Now, anyone can have a personal VPN for a small monthly fee. It can be set up across multiple devices or installed directly onto a home router. As global online activity continues to rise, the perceived “need” for VPNs has significantly increased.
Amid the prevalence of cyber threats, having a VPN is considered an essential component of cybersecurity training, alongside virus protection and firewalls. However, what many VPN providers overlook is that using a VPN may compromise other online safety features activated for the household. Reputable Internet Service Providers (ISPs) typically offer safety features at the source of their service, including filters that block harmful online content such as pornography, self-harm, and gambling, among others.
Are VPNs legal?
In the Western world, VPNs are generally legal for online privacy and security. Businesses regularly rely on VPNs for their daily operations, and this trend is expected to continue.
However, there are exceptions in certain regions, such as the United Arab Emirates, where VPN usage is restricted. In some Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran, VPNs are disapproved because they enable individuals to bypass internet censorship efforts.
Even in these places, the laws typically don’t criminalize VPNs themselves but rather their use to circumvent state censorship. China, for instance, has strengthened its “Great Firewall” to block VPNs and websites, but effective VPNs for China still exist to overcome these challenges. Russia has tried to “ban” some VPNs, but such actions often fail because VPN visitors can be disguised to resemble regular HTTPS visitors. Some VPN providers excel at concealing VPN traffic in their apps.
It’s important to note that VPNs are widely used by businesses worldwide for network security.
Consequently, a comprehensive ban on all VPNs is unlikely, as they are essential tools for businesses and individual security.
How to install a VPN connection on your smartphone
As mentioned earlier, VPN connections are available for Android smartphones and iPhones. Smartphone VPN services are user-friendly and typically include the following:
- To get started, download a single app from the iOS App Store or Google Play Store. While free VPN options exist, opting for a professional provider for better security is advisable.
- The setup is straightforward. Default settings cater to the average user, and after logging in, most apps guide you through essential VPN functions.
- Activating the VPN is as simple as flipping a switch. This option is often accessible directly from the home screen.
- For location masking, manually switch servers by selecting the desired country from the available options.
- Advanced settings cater to users seeking enhanced data protection. Depending on the VPN, choose encryption protocols and explore additional features before subscribing.
- Ensure a secure internet experience by activating the VPN through the app. However, remember that a VPN’s security depends on the provider’s data usage and storage policies.
- Be cautious about data logs; understand why they’re stored. Trusted VPN providers prioritize user privacy and transparency in data handling. Choose a reliable provider accordingly.