Exploring VPN

By: Johanna Brito, Marketing Communications Manager | March 30, 2017

You might have seen the term VPN thrown around lately. A quick Internet search explains that VPN is a Virtual Private Network that allows the exchange of encrypted data through a VPN server. A pretty cool concept considering the browsing security issues that have been flooding our media. All this talk about data consumer protection laws, the aftermath of whistleblowers and the overall security concern in our online culture has sparked discussions about VPN.

One of the most talked about issues right now is the recent overturn on a U.S. federal law that prevented ISPs from selling consumer web browsing history to advertisers, compromising sensitive consumer information like health and financial data. That’s what lead us to the topic of VPN. Having a protected browsing experience is essential. Many of us store sensitive information online like credit card data, identification information, even our health records. Putting us at risk of identity theft, and everything else that comes with it. VPNs provide a safer way to access the Internet, alleviating the worry of the commercialization of consumer data.

How VPN Works
You would normally connect to the Internet through an ISP (Internet Service Provider) which then allows you to browse the web by passing traffic through their servers. In a VPN connection however, the data travels through a VPN tunnel or an encrypted connection, making sure only you and the VPN server have access to the information that is being transmitted. This makes browsing the web safer, can override censored sites, protect you against hackers when using a public connection and even allow you to spoof your IP address.

VPN Types
There are two VPN types: remote access VPN and site-to-site VPN. Remote access VPN is a connection to a private network that is accessed remotely allowing the exchange of information between the user and the private network through the Internet. In a site-to-site VPN connection, the exchange of information takes place between routers. One router acts as the VPN client and the other acts as a VPN server. This type of connection is typically used in work environments. 

But, the road to VPN is not a flawless path. There are a few pitfalls, starting with the VPN service providers themselves. Because only you and your VPN provider have access to the information browsed, choosing a reliable provider is very important. Another challenge of VPN is a slow Internet connection. Due to the RAM needed to encrypt and decrypt data, this slows down your Internet access. Lastly, it’s important to note that while VPN can provide extra layers of security, it’s not immune to attacks. That’s because VPN uses one point of exchange to funnel information, making it extremely vulnerable to hackers.

Talking about options to achieve safer browsing is a step in the right direction. When evaluating if VPN is the right solution for you, be sure to research thoroughly. One option for obtaining a VPN connection is a router, as some offer site-to-site VPN options. Grandstream’s GWN7000 Gigabit router for example makes it easy to create a VPN tunnel from one location to another.  Therefore, facilitating the exchange of encrypted data and protecting you from online hackers. To learn more, click here

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