In 2021, the VPN users are in their billions, with an average user growth of 8%. According to a recent study conducted in early 2021, 50% of the respondents claimed to be using a VPN regularly to access usually restricted entertainment content. These VPN users were predominantly younger, and 62% identified as male by gender. Geographically users in the Asia-Pacific region make up a majority of all those who access a VPN with 30%, compared with Europe and North America, who combined made up 32% of those accessing a VPN worldwide.
VPNs are getting pushed as a must-have multi-service product. Are they?
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, and it gets used for a variety of things. It can protect your online privacy by hiding your traffic and location. It masks your IP address making it easier to bypass censorship and geo-blocks. But its primary purpose is to provide your organization an encrypted tunnel to your enterprise network.
A remote-access VPN creates a connection between individual users and a remote network.
Remote access VPNs use two key components: Network Access Server (NAS), a dedicated server, or a software application on a shared server connected to the business’s internal network. And the second component is VPN client – software installed on a user’s computer or mobile device.
VPN protocol secures the data you input when registering on websites and creating accounts. It ensures that even if attackers manage to sniff data from you, they will need more resources to decrypt it. Some VPNs even block malicious ads, trackers, and websites that stealthily download malware on your device without you even realizing it. That’s how VPNs get advertised, and on the surface, all that sounds useful, right? The critical thing is, you don’t need a VPN to do everything listed above.
With all that they do, many people wonder if VPNs are even legal. VPNs are legal in most countries, with only a few exceptions. Places that either regulate or outright ban VPNs are China, Iraq, North Korea, Oman, Russia, and the UAE, to name a few. A downfall of using a VPN is that your connection speed will suffer slightly. Many will also admit that setting up a VPN, especially for some specific business needs, could be time-consuming and may challenge your tenacity.
A negative aspect of VPNs is that while you may be keeping your data encrypted and safe from hackers, that doesn’t apply to the VPN company. Whichever provider you’re using, it has access to all of your information – location, IP address, which sites you frequent, all manner of sensitive data. Do you think it wise to trust a company with such private information?
You can ensure your online security without turning to the services of a VPN. There are a few key steps to follow.
As already mentioned, make sure only to visit secure websites – starting with HTTPS:// instead of HTTP://. Next, two-factor authentication is your best friend when logging into a site. Add an extra layer of protection. Physical keys are an excellent option for that task. They vary in price, but there are affordable options. If you can’t manage to get one, use an SMS or email authentication. Use whatever you can to ensure a two-step verification when accessing sites. It can save you a ton of trouble. A username and password aren’t enough.
Another helpful step to ensure security is not to use shared devices. Sharing a laptop or a PC with a third party is a terrible idea as it can open the floodgates to malware, keyloggers, and who knows what else. And, lastly, update regularly. That may sound like a no-brainer, but people tend to postpone updates indefinitely. Don’t do that. Timely updates go a long way.
But, if you want to use VPN, please use providers, which offer VPN over Tor and anonymous registration. They must take payments in cryptocurrencies as well. This setup provides you some privacy and a way to avoid firewalls. However, this setup can be categorized as a grey or black hat technique in many countries and could bring you troubles.