In today’s world we are highly dependent on connectivity. Regardless of where we are, as long as there is a WiFi network and we have the necessary devices to connect to it, we’re happy. However, with this exponential growth in popularity, the Internet became a digital jungle where good people can easily become victims of hackers or other malevolent entities. And, it doesn’t take that much to hack into someone’s phone or tablet. It only takes a corrupt device or a public network without the proper security protocols installed and your identity can be stolen in a matter of seconds.
But thieves are not just after your identity; they are looking for login details to your financial accounts, personal and business emails, other type of accounts, any data that can be re-sold to the highest bidder. Even more, when you’re traveling you’ll be forced to connect to various networks (in a hotel, at a coffee shop, in the public transportation system, and so on. This will affect the health of your device (at least) and you’ll end up feeding hackers information via malware.
To avoid all this you only need a VPN connection. If you’re not sure how this works, continue reading. We’ll go through the basic process and then recommend how to choose the best VPN connection for your needs.
What is a VPN Connection?
VPN or Virtual Private Network offers you the possibility to securely access a network through an encrypted tunnel. This keeps prying eyes out of your business and also protects your device of any unexpected attacks. I guess we can say that a VPN works like the firewall on your computer (only it has some pretty advanced features).
To better understand how a VPN works, you should simply think about the world and the public system of transportation in between: planes, trains, ferry, boats, and so on. Whenever you use one of these to go from one place to another, everyone who rides with you can see you. So your trip is public. The same is with the Internet. The moment you introduce a site’s address in your browser, your computer takes a very public ride to that site. And in doing so, it meets other computers on the network and communicates with them as well. Now, a VPN connection will create a tunnel around your computer’s data which will both protect and hide you from snooping software.
Best VPN Connection
The best VPN connection must support a few key features and below we are going to discuss each and every one of them:
- The network must be wide and must offer extended connections around key geographic areas. One of the most important areas is the US especially for people looking to use online streaming services.
- Powerful security protocols that can’t be easily breached by hackers or governmental agencies. Some of the most popular security protocols (PPTP or L2TP) are known to be easily accessible for agencies like CIA or NSA and this doesn’t guarantee users’ security and anonymity.
- Flexibility when it comes to remote locations. If you are moving through the world a lot, you need the best VPN connection that will support you wherever you are. This means an extended network and a large number of servers so you can access any location at any given time.
- The best VPN connection must also be fast – because of the added encryption some connection loose a big part of the initial speed. However, you shouldn’t settle and you shouldn’t compromise the quality of your experience for safety.
- The connection must be reliable – this means that it should be available at any given time. Today, many VPN providers offer 99.9% uptime with all their servers, but if your business depends on it, you should ask about a backup plan. Also, you should ask about what happens if the network is full and the bandwidth is completely occupied.
- The best VPN connection should also be scalable, especially if you use it for business needs. As your business grows you will need more devices and this means more bandwidth and servers from your VPN solution. Look for a powerful supplier who can give you extra space when you need it.
Fastest VPN Connection
As we mentioned earlier, the best VPN connection must be fast. In order to achieve this, many VPN providers cut back on security which is not always a good thing. Of course, if you are only using the connection to stream online content from a site which blocks you based on your location then this is not a big deal.
Still, people who need secure connections should not compromise on their speed. Just imagine trying to download an urgent document at a low download speed. It will get you so frustrated that you’ll rather risk compromising the data. So, how can a VPN connection be both fast and secure? Well, it all depends on the security protocols it uses.
Security protocols are also called tunneling protocols (because they create a secure tunnel for your online data) and below we mention the most popular ones:
- PPTP or Point to Point Tunneling Protocol – it is easy to configure and can be found on almost any VPN platform which makes it also easy to install and use. Even more, it is considered to be one of the fastest protocols in the market. The downside is represented by security risks and the fact that it can be easily cracked.
- L2TP and L2TP/IPSec (Layer 2 Tunnel Protocol) – L2TP on its own doesn’t provide any encryption when used on its own. This is why you’ll almost always find it paired with the IPSec protocol. It is easy to setup and use and offers double encapsulation which makes it more secure than PPTP. Sadly, according to Edward Snowden, the protocol was cracked by the NSA and has a few security issues.
- OpenVPN – this protocol is native to many modern devices which make it extremely accessible. It is also one of the safest protocols as it can be encrypted using several cryptographic algorithms. It is considered to be a bit slower than L2TP/IPSec but it is the fastest secure protocol.
- IKEv2 (Internet Key Exchange v2) –the protocol is only supported by modern devices and OSs, which makes it great for mobile device users. It is also useful when you’re traveling as it knows how to re-establish the connection if it got lost. It is also considered fast and easy to implement. However, the fact that it won’t work on older devices, puts it in the second place, behind OpenVPN.
Anonymous VPN Connection
For a VPN connection to be anonymous you need a provider that doesn’t keep traffic logs. Even with the best VPN connection, the provider can see absolutely anything you’re doing. That’s why you’ll see that many advertise they don’t keep logs – however this is proved to be false in many cases.
For instance, if your provider is based in the US, it is mandatory for them to keep logs as the law asks for it. The same happens with providers based in Europe or the UK. This is one of the main reasons why providers look for more exotic locations like the Seychelles or the Cayman islands.
How to setup VPN Connection
Setting up a VPN connection is not that difficult as it may seem. First, you have to find a provider that will offer great clients. The client is a piece of software that you use to connect to the VPN in order to remain hidden while online.
Nowadays, many providers offer clients for mobile and desktop systems but the best VPN connection system must also offer clients for gaming consoles or routers. After all, you want all your devices to be protected. In order to setup a VPN connection, you have to download the client and install it on your device. Once this step is completed, you’ll have to log in using the credentials you used for your account.
Once you can see the interface things get even simpler. Your next step is to select the server you want to connect to (there is usually a long list available) and click the connect button. If you’re a bit more technical, you may also want to change the security protocol (we mentioned them above) to make sure you get everything you need. For this, you usually have to access the settings area but things are not complicated.
Once the connection has been established, you can check your IP address to convince yourself that you are covered.
As you can see, there are many things to learn about a VPN connection. However, the process is quite simple and even a non-technical person can learn to use a VPN solution. The secret is to find a reliable provider who will offer fast and secure connections. Of course, it is important to find user-friendly clients and great customer support as well so make sure to choose with care.