Should You Use A Virtual Private Network?

23rd November, 2016 by

Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs have long been an industry staple for businesses.They allow workers to access their private networks from outside a facility, such as when working from home or other remote locations. Discover what a VPN is exactly and how to set one up..

The VPN software creates a network connection to a server known as an endpoint through which other network traffic is sent. The endpoint then receives this network traffic and forwards it on to its intended destination. Returning traffic is sent to the endpoint which then forwards it back over the VPN connection to the connected computer. This behavior means that VPNs are a brilliant solution for gaining remote access to a private network.

When Do We Need Encryption?

Generally when using a VPN the traffic between the computer and the VPN endpoint to which it connects will be encrypted. This makes it harder for someone to eavesdrop on what is being sent between either ends of the VPN connection. This aspect of VPNs is what makes it useful outside of connecting to private networks. These days restaurants, hotels, airports, trains and busses have all started to offer WiFi connections for customers to use in order to stay connected when away from home and the office. Often these connections are “open” which means that data sent between your device and the WiFi network isn’t encrypted and can be intercepted and viewed by other people connected to the same network. Even if the network does use a key in order to encrypt network traffic, it is trivial for someone to set up their own access point spoofing the legitimate ones in order to see your network traffic. All this means that you may not be able to trust the WiFi network you connect to when out and about. A VPN solves this problem. By creating the VPN connection it becomes very difficult for someone to intercept and decrypt your network traffic.

Signing Up For a VPN Server

Most devices you own should be capable of connecting to a VPN without requiring any additional software. Before you can connect you will need a VPN server with which to connect. There are a number of services out there offering free or paid for VPN services. To use them you’ll need to sign up and create an account. After which, you will receive the details you need to use to connect to the VPN. If you have a dedicated server or VPS then you can configure it to act as your VPN end point and know that you have full control of your connection and who is connecting to it. We’ve previously covered how you can go about doing this.

Joining A VPN On Android & iOS Devices and Windows 10

On Android devices, opening the Settings app, then under “Wireless and Networks” section click More, then select VPN to get to the VPN configuration section. Clicking on the + in the top menu allows you to add a new VPN connection and input the details for the VPN you are using.

On iOS devices again you need to open the settings app. Click on “General” then scroll to the bottom of the page and select “VPN”, then you can click on “Add VPN configuration” to add a new VPN connection. As with Android, a dialogue pops up that can be filled in with the details you have for your VPN.

On Windows 10, clicking the notification icon in the bottom right brings out the Action Center. One of the icons you will find there is for VPN. Click the icon and the settings app will open on the VPN page. Again, clicking “Add a VPN connection” brings up the dialogue where you can enter the details for your VPN.

Once you have configured your VPN connection, you can then connect to it. This will protect your connection.

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