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What is VPN? Learn about VPN functions, types, and how to install it

What is VPN? Learn about VPN functions, types, and how to install it

In the past, the function of VPN (Virtual Private Network) was well-known as a tool for securely connecting networks between office buildings or using the office network from home.

However, now VPN is more popular as a tool for obtaining secure and remote internet connections. The question is, what exactly is VPN?

Well, in this article, you will get a complete explanation of what VPN is, its functions, and other essential things you need to know. Let's take a look!

What is VPN?

VPN is a connection service that provides you with secure and private access to websites by changing the connection path through servers and hiding the data exchange that occurs.

Simply put, the function of VPN connects smartphones, tablets, and PCs to other computers (commonly known as VPN Servers) located in a place connected to the internet, allowing you to browse the internet using that computer's internet network.

So, if the computer (server) is in a different country, it will appear as if you are using that country's internet when the internet tries to reach you through that connection, and you can access something that you couldn't access from your country.

To better understand what VPN is, let's reiterate how it works.

How VPN Works

After understanding what VPN is and its functions, next, you must also know how VPN works.

The way VPN works is by encrypting the data exchange even before the public connection at a coffee shop or internet cafe can read it. When connected to the internet using a VPN connection, it's like accessing the internet through a specialized pathway, not using the main network.

The VPN server is responsible for forwarding your connection to the desired websites. So, the connection you make will be recognized as a connection from the VPN server's network, not the network you are using at that moment.

Therefore, when using a network without VPN, the connection is direct and not encrypted. On the other hand, when using VPN, the connection is encrypted and passed through the VPN server first.

Below are illustrations of connections through a network without VPN and using VPN.

How VPN Works

This connection has become the standard when using the internet. There is no encryption, and all data involved in the data exchange process between you and internet applications can be seen by many people.

It doesn't matter if the data processed is just about Google searches, entertainment, or the like.

It becomes a problem when the processed data involves online banking, business emails, or anything slightly more sensitive. Of course, this would be a different story. For online attacks, hackers usually employ a Man-in-The-Middle (MITM) attack technique, which we'll discuss another time.

Next, how does VPN serve to secure data during internet data exchange? Let's take a look at the image below.

How VPN Works

When you use a VPN (usually through an application), your data is encrypted by the application and then sent through the ISP to the VPN server. The VPN server becomes an intermediary to connect you with online sites or services. This can solve privacy and data security issues during data exchange. What are the other benefits and uses of VPN?

Benefits of VPN

There are several benefits you can gain from using a VPN, including remote access. Remote access allows us to use the internet through the office network from anywhere as long as we are connected to the internet.

So, even if you are using an external network, when using a VPN, your network can be recognized as the office network. Additionally, here are some benefits of VPN:

1. Bypassing Restrictions

You can bypass geographical restrictions on streaming sites or videos, such as those imposed by the government for accessing websites considered dangerous, and so on.

2. Securing Data on Public Networks

Another benefit of VPN is protecting the data exchange you perform on untrusted WiFi or networks. This is helpful when using public networks in cafes, bars, and similar places.

3. Securing Personal Information Anonymously

A VPN hides your location in real-time. Therefore, not just anyone can know your location while accessing the internet. Usually, the detected location is that of your VPN server.

4. Data Encryption

When processing data exchange between you and online web applications, your data is encrypted. So, even if someone sees what your computer sends, they only see encrypted information, not raw data.

5. Device Information Encryption

Others cannot easily identify the device you are using or what you are doing.

Advantages of VPN

The advantages of VPN are:

  • Enhanced data privacy and security.
  • Access to blocked websites.
  • Concealing the original IP address.
  • Accessing networks from different locations.

Disadvantages of VPN

However, there are several drawbacks to using VPN. Here are the disadvantages of VPN:

  • Slower connection speeds.
  • Potential instability of the connection.
  • Complicated manual configurations.
  • Usage limitations.

Is Using VPN Safe?

Security sometimes becomes a subject of debate between employees and IT companies.

The usefulness of VPN can make your connection very secure, but it also depends on the protocol you use for the connection.

Using VPN security is still hindered by two main factors:

1. Technological Limitations

Technological limitations in developing VPN, such as the type of protocol and encryption used.

2. Legal Limitations

Legal and policy constraints affect what can be done with the technology. The laws of the country where the VPN server and company are located also play a role. Sometimes, the company's own policies influence how they implement this technology in their services.

So, it can be said that using VPN is not entirely safe. However, at the very least, using VPN will be safer than using a regular connection.

So, When Should You Use a VPN?

You can use a VPN when you want to perform the following activities:

  • Assist you in obtaining a safer connection when using public WiFi.
  • Encrypt your activities on websites.
  • Hide your activities from individuals who may try to secretly monitor them.
  • Conceal your location and allow you to access geo-blocked content.
  • Ensure you remain more anonymous within websites.

How to Get a Free VPN

What is a Free VPN? A Free VPN is a service that provides VPN servers that you can use for free.

Through the websites below, you can get free access to a VPN. There are several sites that offer Free VPN services for you to try out. These Free VPN provider websites offer VPN application services that can be used on desktop devices. If you want to use VPN on mobile or desktop devices, you can try applications like Hotspot Shield or Tunnel Bear.

1. Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield is a popular VPN service provider. Despite offering premium services, Hotspot Shield also provides a free version that you can try.

This version can prevent access to sites containing malware and redirect you to blocked sites. However, the free version only allows connection for one device.

2. TunnelBear

TunnelBear is a straightforward yet powerful VPN application. It boasts an attractive interface that makes it user-friendly.

TunnelBear is a user-friendly VPN app for your devices. It features an appealing and simple UI, making it easy for users to use.

There are two versions available, free and paid. The free version allows you to use it up to 500MB of data.

3. Hide.me

Hide.me is an internet service provider based in Malaysia and has dozens of servers worldwide. The free version of this app allows you to use up to 3GB per month.

How to Install a VPN on Android

Apart from desktops, you can also install a VPN on your Android device. While there are many paid VPN options available, we will explain how to install a free VPN on Android.

Here's how to install a VPN on Android:

  1. Open Google Play Store.
  2. Type "VPN" in the search box.
  3. Choose the VPN application you desire, for example, 1.1.1.1.
  4. Install the VPN application on your Android device.

Once it's installed, you can activate the VPN whenever you need it.

Conclusion

A VPN can help secure your internet connections, as well as your personal identity and data. Though there may be some drawbacks, they are an integral part of many applications.

There are several choices for VPN service providers, or you can even set up your own VPN server using a cloud VPS service or your computer.

In this section, you have learned what a VPN is and how it works. Below, there are some articles that you might find interesting to read:

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