Virtual Private Network (VPN)
The internet is most probably the greatest invention that has affected every aspect of our existence. From being a platform to share information to being able to control our homes and vehicles, it has brought extreme levels of advancements in our lives. But in the last few years, people can be found questioning their privacy on the internet and are concerned about their personal data leaking onto the internet. In the early stages of the technical revolution, when the internet was being pieced together, the main idea was just to be able to share information from one computer to another in an organization. There wasn’t much thought given to the privacy of a user, and it simply wasn’t feasible for even the best computers of that age. Since then, our devices have evolved but the base of the internet has remained the same.
Corporations that provide us with free platforms on the internet like the Google search engine or Facebook collect our data and target us with relevant advertisements or even sell it to other companies, as a means of increasing their revenue. The ISPs are also in a position to see everything that their users do online as they carry all the data traffic. There is absolutely no way to get through the internet untracked without using external privacy tools like VPN.
Apart from protecting the user’s data from snoopy middlemen, a VPN service also has other advantages. The OTT platforms like Netflix and Hulu provide different content in different countries. Subscription fees in country A might be more than that in country B, but the content library could still be smaller in country A. This just doesn’t sound right. Here, VPN could provide a user with the benefit of accessing content from a different location. Though these services are aware of this ‘small hack’ and frequently modify their policies to stop the access of content via VPN servers, with the right and legitimate VPN service provider, this is still possible.VPN or a Virtual Private Network is one of the most mentioned data privacy tools on the web. It provides a proxy connection that makes requests on the web on one’s behalf. With a VPN, one’s connection to the VPN server is encrypted, which makes it very hard for someone snooping on their traffic to determine the requests they make on the web. The connection between a user and the VPN server is made through a virtual encrypted tunnel, making the data impossible to read for the user’s ISP and other prying eyes. Through the VPN server, the user’s data exits onto the public internet which on interception would not affect the user as the data would seem to be coming from a proxy connection in a different location than the user. It is simply not easy to trace back the data to the user.
There are many free VPN providers available on the Google Play Store for mobile phones, these services can not be trusted as it costs them to maintain their servers, which they compensate by selling your data/log to third parties. A VPN connection also adds latency to the user’s internet as the data travels much more than it would’ve otherwise. Considering the best case scenario wherein a user is using the best VPN service on their workstation and has a decent to good internet speed, the user is still not protected. Other devices that the user uses still use the same Wi-Fi or cellular network which is being monitored and logged. Also, there must be other smart home appliances that require an internet connection, there is no way to install a VPN client on them, so the user does not yet have total privacy. This problem can be solved by installing a VPN router that encrypts all the data before it escapes onto the public internet. Hence, making the home/workspace environment completely protected with a secured connection.
About the Author: Piyul Patel is a Third Year Computer Engineering student at RAIT.