IMPORTANCE OF VPN IN CYBER SECURITY
In today’s age, we put information and data about ourselves on the internet than we even realize. Our whole personalities, including likes, dislikes, people of interest, personal hobbies, our places of work among others can be found online by anyone just by simply going through our social media profiles on sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
But the internet does not just comprise social media networks. The internet has come a long way from its nascent consumer stages a decade ago, where it was just a place where we went to have a good time by watching videos on YouTube, check up on the lives of our friends on Facebook, buy a thing or two at Amazon or search up articles on Wikipedia to assist us in our assignments.
The internet of today is a monstrosity. It’s a whole ecosystem where things live forever. Its now common knowledge that if anything gets online, its going to stay there forever no matter what you do to get rid of it. There will always be a place where that thing will still exist and will be within easy reach of anyone of intends to get access to it.
Most people don’t even realize how much vulnerable they are on the internet. The false realization that a screen gives, that you are hidden and your computer is personal, is becoming increasingly damaging towards protecting your privacy online.
Do you know that, just by looking at your IP address (methods of doing it can be found by tones just through a simple Google search), a person can discern your exact location? Or that your Internet Service Provider can be tracking your activities online just by looking at your data packets?
You can even be subject to ransomware just if your connection is not secure enough increasing the risk of you losing your data if you don’t pay up to the party behind the attack. And that’s just the start of what damage can you be subject to on the internet if you don’t take your privacy security seriously.
You are traceable, identifiable and vulnerable online at all times, unless you start developing info on how you can best protect yourself on the internet through enabling proper cybersecurity measures and tools.
What is CyberSecurity?
Cybesecurity might sound like a word that would hold more relevance to people like geeks and hackers, the tech savvy lot, but never has this concept been more important to ordinary internet users than it is now. And that’s because they are the easiest targets and the biggest prize at the same time.
Ordinary internet users are reckless when it comes to their cybersecurity and that’s why numerous times, they find their privacy being invaded, causing them huge damage. This damage can be in any form like financial loss or the leaking of your private photos, but it always causes irreparable loss which people are left ruing over after it has occurred.
And while there are numerous things you need to take care of to ensure that you are managing your cybersecurity properly like setting stronger passwords, not clicking on malicious or dubious links sent to you etc, the biggest buffer you can have against online threats is a tool named a VPN or a Virtual Private Network.
What is a VPN?
A VPN, simply put, is a tool which allows you to extend and access your own private network on the internet. It keeps your privacy protected by ensuring that whatever you do online, can never be gouged in by anyone, irrespective of how robust their efforts might be.
There are many other features that a VPN provides which strengthen your security online like as mentioned below:
- A VPN hides your real location by allowing you to re-route your internet connection via its own server. This enables you to ensure that if someone came looking for your location by checking out your IP address, all they will get is the IP address of the VPN server you are connected to and nothing beyond that. Conventional VPN providers offer thousands of VPN servers spread across the globe just to serve this purpose.
- A VPN encrypts your data as it leaves your device and only decrypts it at the place you are visiting on the internet. Encryption, basically, is when your data gets scrambled so that even if someone gets hold of it, it would be meaningless to them. The standard encryption provided by a VPN is military grade AES- 256, which cannot be deciphered, even by brute force computing. Its unbreakable.
- A VPN allows you to bypass geo-restrictions and internet firewalls guaranteeing you access to a fundamentally free internet. It does this by providing you with the chance to route your connection through a server in a different location where access to the restricted sites does not exist.
These features might appear as quite benign but their impact on the increase in your level of cybersecurity is unprecedented once you put them into action. If you want to know how this is possible then you need to know about the importance of a VPN and the role it can play in enhancing your cybersecurity.
Secure your location and be anonymous on the internet:
By hiding your real IP, a VPN makes it harder for entities like hackers, government surveillance agencies and even copyright trolls to track your real location down. This exceedingly allows you to stay safer and away from legal and copyright troubles which might apply on you as a result of indulging in activities like Torrenting accidently for copyright material, visiting banned websites in your country among others
Allow a more safe transit for your sensitive personal and financial data:
Through encrypting your data packets, a VPN makes your privacy more robust on the internet. The activities you indulge in on the internet can be of a vast nature. From undertaking financial transactions to sharing sensitive official documents, the data you share might be invaluable to your own vested interests.
Encrypting your data packets through the use of a VPN, will allow you to ensure more safety of your data while it is in transit on the internet. Hackers are always on the prowl of insecure connections from which they can steal financial and personal information and benefit from it. VPNs allow them to stay at arm’s length at all times.
Be protected from unwarranted surveillance attempts:
In many countries around the globe, Governments have enacted special laws and alliances through which they can snoop in on and access the data of the citizens. The “Five Eyes” is an example of such an alliance between countries. In the USA, ISPs now have the right to sell your data.
Even corporations and firms have been known to spy on their employees to know more about their official as well as personal activities. By using a VPN, you can thwart a majority of these attempts to put you under surveillance
Secure your right to net neutrality:
VPNs improve net neutrality. Many governments have put restrictions on their citizens on what they can visit and not visit on the internet. These restrictions can be momentary like in the case of Venezuelan and Iranian authorities blocking social media access during times of civil unrest, or permanent like the notorious Chinese firewall.
Failure to comply with them can land you into trouble if the government finds out about your attempts to access these restricted sites. However, this crippling internet censorship can be circumvented easily by using a VPN, because then, not only will you be able to access all these restricted sites more easily, but it will be harder for the governments to identify your activities. A VPN neutralizes the chances of generating legal troubles when you are trying to access a freer internet. A Best VPN can even allow you to get past VPN bans on sites like Netflix US, which are geo-restricted by the media firm itself.
Why a VPN is more effective in guaranteeing a higher level of cybersecurity than other tools?
There are many other privacy tools that are often used by users to address their online privacy, but there are many critical reasons as to why a VPN is much more effective towards serving that purpose.
Mainly, there are two tools that are often pitted against VPNs i.e. Proxies and Tor, but both of them have fundamental vulnerabilities that make them less reliable than VPNs.
Proxies, a half-baked security tool:
Firstly, lets talk about proxies. A proxy is when an internet connection is re-routed through an intermediary server before reaching its final destination. This can prove useful to the user in unblocking geo-restricted websites to a certain extent. However proxies don’t offer encryption or secure protocol support, which makes a user vulnerable to being tracked to its real location or lead to the user’s data being compromised.
Proxies are used widely but you shouldn’t count on them to deliver on the cyber security front because they are not supposed to do that.
Tor, a US Government Funded Project:
Now coming to the much more prominent Tor, simply put, is meant to be a network which is secure enough to guard a user’s anonymity.
When you use a Tor enabled tool like a Tor Browser, your data passes through nodes known as Tor relays, which are randomly selected. In each node, data is partially decrypted and the rest is passed on through the network, until the data receives the final destination and the last node decrypts the final layer to reveal the network intended message. Tor’s supposed superiority lies in the fact that it encrypts through multiple layers.
All of this sounds a much more sophisticated system at work than a VPN and that’s why Tor has got legions of followers who support this tool’s credibility towards playing a major role in ensuring a person’s privacy online. But, a more thorough and in-depth analysis of this network’s origins will reveal the harrowing truth that the Tor Project is funded by the US Government majorly, making it increasingly unreliable to serve the purpose its meant to.
The US government is known for its mass surveillance programs and secretive missions to spy on its citizens. Edward Snowden, the man behind Wikileaks, revealed the documents which showed us the extent to which the US government was going towards keeping a track of its citizens.
How can you best choose a VPN for serving you the best?
In comparison, VPNs are nowadays provided by private entities and they always have to put forth a zero logging policy, which makes the customer be rest assured that its data is not being retained in any form whatsoever.
However, not all VPN providers are to be trusted and like in every field, even the VPN industry is filled with dubious names and services which use their VPN services as a façade to serve their nefarious purposes like planting tracking codes, installing adware and malware on to user devices, retaining and selling user data among others.
There are just a few select providers who can be trusted by users towards providing a stellar service. The list of these providers is just limited to the top 8-10 providers in the industry and all of them are equally good as VPN services.
How to choose among them depends on what kind of purpose do you want them to serve better as some of the Best VPNs are more capable of powering a better streaming experience while others are much more robust in the security options they offer. Some of these top names include NordVPN, PureVPN, CyberGhost, BufferedVPN, ExpressVPN, Torguard, and PrivateVPN among others and you can check out their feature comparisons by doing simple good searches on queries like “PureVPN vs Private Internet Access” or “NordVPN vs ExpressVPN”.
In the end, its always up to the user to take measures to make its cybersecurity much more robust and adept towards neutralizing online threats to its privacy and data. A VPN is the best tool to make your connection much more secure and guard your anonymity and its imperative that every user starts deploying it at the earliest as the first step towards adopting better cybersecurity practices.
And as the world moves and opens up to the importance of taking your cybersecurity more seriously, many other mainstream products are being introduced to provide users with much more diverse security apparatus.
A much touted example of such an apparatus was recently introduced and is called the “Titan Key”, which is an actual physical key, without which, your system wont get unlocked. It adds another security dimension towards protecting your data, especially in places like shared office spaces.
This device and other similar tools will definitely be seen more and more around in the future as people finally and gradually start taking more active measures to increase their guard in the cyber domain.
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