VPN: Definition, uses, advantages and comparison
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VPN: Definition, uses, advantages and comparison

Do you want to know what a VPN is and how it can help you keep your communications secure? Would you like to know the advantages of using a VPN ? Do you know which are the best VPN or "Virtual Private Network" ?

When we use the Internet there is a constant exchange of data between our device, Internet service providers and our recipients. A VPN is a Virtual Private Network, that is, a service that encrypts the data of our communications, including our Internet browsing. It's an "secure tunnel" that establishes a private safe network that is secure between our Internet connection we are making use of and Internet servers or the recipients.

Here 's everything you need to know about VPNs:

  • What is a VPN?
  • What is a VPN used for?
  • What are the advantages of using a VPN?
  • Comparison and VPN recommendations

What is a VPN?

When we use the Internet, there is a constant exchange of data between our device and Internet service providers.

As we said , a VPN is a Virtual Private Network, that is, a service that encrypts the data of our Internet browsing. It is a "secure tunnel" that creates a private and secure network between the Internet connection that we are using and the Internet servers.

The VPN server is an external server that intervenes in the information exchanges that take place, in this way private data is secured and the confidentiality and integrity of our information is maintained.

The VPN, therefore, provides privacy and protection in online communications and browsing, making the connection between our computer and the Internet confidential.

The advantages that this offers are the following:

  • You will be anonymous on the Internet, since the IP address of your computer, as well as your location, will no longer be visible to third parties.
  • You will be safer on the Internet, since the VPN network makes our devices less vulnerable to cyber attacks.
  • You will have more freedom on the Internet, since, as different IPs are used, it will be possible to access more websites, especially if you live in a country with few or low digital freedoms.

In a simpler way, it could be said that the Internet is a means of communication and exchange (like a highway) through which data travels in packets of information from one destination to another.

Every time we access a link on the Internet, our team must identify itself and send the request for the information we want to the service providers so that they respond with the answer we are looking for. That is, there is a continuous and bidirectional communication channel .

As can be imagined, all this transit of information leaves a trace or digital footprint that allows us to see our online activity, who we are, our habits, tastes and interests, what pages we usually visit and even our identity or what our exact physical location is. .

A VPN is a tunnel on this highway where all this information is hidden, since both the information that is sent and that which is received is encrypted, and no trace of navigation is left, which is hidden by an IP address different from the one from our home router.

A VPN is the closest thing, in terms of the anonymization it provides, to the TOR network of the dark web . These VPN networks are especially useful when we browse the Internet through public Wi-Fi or through an unsecured connection or one that may be tapped.

What is a VPN used for?

Initially, VPN networks were used, above all, in the business world. However, massive digitization , teleworking and the increasingly frequent cyberattacks have favored the use of this anonymization and security measure on a more personal and private level.

If you want to know more about cybersecurity in teleworking, we recommend these articles:

If you want to know what the most frequent cyberattacks are, in these articles we tell you everything you need to know:

The uses that can be made of a VPN are multiple, but the following stand out:

  • Remotely connect to our work network (or any other network) securely. In this way, the risk of our device and the network and the data traffic of the company (or of any other entity that provides us with its network to navigate) is reduced. The VPN allows us to work from anywhere as if we were physically at our workplace, having access to all the information and resources, but providing special privacy and security. Of course, we must bear in mind that if our device already has malware , no matter how much we use a VPN, confidentiality may already be compromised.
  • Browse the Internet more safely. The use of a VPN allows us to be protected at any time on the Internet and prevents another person from accessing our browsing data. In addition, it protects us from the dangers we run when we browse through public WiFi. Here we offer you a list of preventive measures to secure your work environment .
  • Get more privacy and hide our location. Because the IP address that is provided by the VPN is the one of the server that the "tunnel" connects the IP address of our real IP is not visible it will not being in a position to track our physical location, the VPN will let us access any content with no geographical restrictions
  • Waive certain restrictions of our provider. Some Internet providers control the file traffic and information packages of users, however, with a VPN the browser will not be able to know the sites we visit or have access to the information of our Internet activity, since it will be completely encrypted.

What are the advantages of using a VPN?

Since the US Federal Communications Commission annulled net neutrality in 2017, Internet service providers are free to sell the private data they obtain from each user's Internet browsing to the highest bidder. Using a VPN guarantees the privacy of our movements on the Internet and our security in the virtual environment.

On the other hand, the emergence of public WiFi networks has facilitated the work of cybercriminals, thus proliferating cyberattacks. If you want to maintain a cybersecure life, it may be of interest to you to consult this article.

So that the Internet does not become a battlefield or a place where cybercrime and insecurity rule, the use of VPN connections is highly recommended. If you are interested in learning more about the current battlefield that is the Internet, we recommend this article on Cyberwarfare.

List of the 5 most interesting advantages of using a VPN network are these:

  • Visit any web page from anywhere , that is, prevent geographic restrictions by Internet service providers on our browsing. The VPN allows us to use the Internet exactly as if we were at home, at our workplace or at our vacation home in another country, for example, since it offers a direct and encrypted "tunnel" between an origin and a destination. .
  • Access blocked websites in our country.  The service provider of some places, such as universities or libraries, restricts access to certain Internet services, such as social networks. The encrypted connection offered by a VPN allows these accesses through the "tunnel" it provides.
  • Avoid censorship. All the governments of the world have political intentions and geopolitical strategies unknown to the vast majority of citizens. For this reason, some tend to seek to control information, freedom of the press and thus manage to convey disinformation based on their interests. A VPN allows you to avoid the restrictions that some governments impose on the freedom of expression and information of their citizens. If you want to delve into the topic of misinformation, we suggest these articles:
  • End price discrimination in the market. Some companies (it is very common in airlines), analyzing the cost of living in each city or country, change the prices of their products based on the possibilities of each territory. In addition, as the server we use tracks our preferences and purchases, it can sell this information to businesses, and these, in turn, can raise the price of the products that interest us most. Using a VPN guarantees privacy and anonymity, avoiding this discrimination and price increases based on your origin.
  • Prevent them from following the trail of our digital footprint. Thus preventing them from knowing our tastes, interests, preferences and habits that individualize us.

Comparison and VPN recommendations

When choosing a VPN server, it is worth first considering whether we want to use a third-party server or if we want to configure our own, for which there are some simple protocols (so it is not necessary to have specific computer knowledge) according to each type of device.

If you want to train in Cybersecurity at a basic, intermediate or advanced level, you can consult these courses.

On the other hand, and just as it happens when choosing a good antivirus  for our devices, there are also free and paid VPN servers. However, we must keep in mind that free VPN servers do not usually offer the same protection and are more vulnerable to cyber attacks, although they can be very useful and effective.

"Due to the importance of VPNs, many antiviruses already include a VPN as a complementary and added service. Before hiring a VPN, try to confirm if your antivirus already has one to avoid unnecessary expenses"

Here is a list of some of the most recommended and reliable VPN servers:

  • Hello :It is a free and ad-free VPN server. It is a Google Chrome extension that allows access to blocked websites.
  • TunnelBear :It is a very simple server to use and has a free version and a paid version with more features and offering greater protection. It is a good option for those who only use VPNs in specific cases.
  • Hotspot Shield :It also has a free version, but it contains ads and does not allow you to select the location that you want it to appear.
  • Hide.me :It also has a free version and offers a free proxy.
  • CyberGhost :Offers double encryption and anti-fingerprint service. In addition, it can be used on up to 5 different devices.
  • ZenMate :It only has a paid version and can also be used on 5 different devices.
  • NordVPN :It only has a paid service and uses double encryption.
  • ExpressVPN :It only has a paid service and has extensions for several browsers. It can support a variety of devices, such as the computer, the mobile, the television or even the PlayStation. It has lightning fast servers and allows payment with Bitcoins.
  • OpenVPN :It is a free software tool that allows you to configure your own VPN network. It is the most complicated server option and requires some technical knowledge.

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