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The virtually misunderstood Network helps

Anand Mokashi – Add 'Salt' to your password- Anand Mokashi Web

One of the most misunderstood concepts among computer and Internet users today, is the purpose, role and function of a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

VPN is a complex system that baffles non-technocrats.

VPN is a powerful computer network security tool that makes it difficult for a third party to obtain someone’s online information including their browsing history.

In this modern, interconnected world infested with fraud, viruses and hackers, a good understanding about and access to a VPN powerful and versatile tool, is a must.

VPN technology creates a secure and encrypted connection between the user’s computer and a server operated by a VPN service provider.

All network traffic thereafter passes through this protected tunnel, and no one in-between can get access to it.

A typical individual VPN user would use this service to protect their data and identity.

Is it really secure?

Despite the high level of protection, VPN services are not fool proof.

The more powerful the VPN, the more difficult it will make things for someone trying to spy on your computer system.

A VPN offers numerous advantages.

A user is most vulnerable when using public Wi-Fi.

Facilities like hotels, airports, and coffee shops that provide Wi-Fi are particularly risky.

In such cases, VPNs significantly reduce the level of risk.

VPNs also cloak your computer’s actual IP address, making it harder for advertisers (or spies and hackers) to track usage online.

Home networks are vulnerable too.

Is it legal?

VPNs can be double-edged swords.

Just like they protect bona fide users from hackers and spies, it will offer the same protection to potentially mala fide users as well.

Governments across the world have realised this possibility and laws are now being enforced by different countries on all matters related to VPN usage.

So it is best that anybody choosing to use VPNs seeks legal advice from the country where they plan to use these.

This is even more relevant to international travellers.

Choosing VPN Service

In recent years, there has been an explosion in the VPN service providers market with providers capitalising on the common man’s growing concerns about surveillance and cybercrime.

Whilst most providers would offer a basic level of protection, factors to consider include reputation, performance, type of encryption used, transparency, ease of use, support, and extra features and of course, inevitably, the price.

There are a number of free and freemium providers.

It is therefore better to undertake due diligence and consult an IT expert.

Anand Mokashi is an IT Lecturer, Consultant and Digital Media Specialist with a passion for all things online. He runs the Facebook group of Amateur astronomy lovers (https://www.facebook.com/groups/ilavip/) and the website www.astronomyhuble.com. Email: anand_mokashi@consultant.com

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