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What is a VPN and 5 other questions answered

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VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. It adds a layer of security and privacy to your network by essentially tunnelling your data through a private network.

It works by extending your private network (your local WiFi, for example) over a public network (the internet) and facilitating data transfer through a private tunnel as if the two data terminals are connected directly to each other.

How is it used?

Using a VPN is a pretty straightforward process. Sometimes it can be as simple as entering a server address, username, and password.

Most modern smartphones can set up VPNs using PPTP and L2TP/IP protocols.  All leading Operating Systems can configure VPNs using the PPTP protocol.

Modern VPN clients make using a VPN just like logging onto a website. You create an account, log in, and that’s it. All your data is now encrypted and being tunnelled across the internet safely..

Also read: Why and how to encrypt your Android device?

Applications of VPN?

VPN is mainly used by organisations to secure their data transfer over the internet. However, VPN offers a lot of benefits to an individual too.

  • Using VPN can hide or even change your IP address.
  • VPN is widely used to encrypt data transfer happening over public networks (on the internet in most cases)
  • A VPN can mask your location. Users can choose to show an entirely different country of origin for their internet connection.
  • You can also access websites blocked by the government or any other organisation using a VPN.

What are VPN leaks?

The two most crucial points when you’re encrypting your data are your IP address and your DNS requests. If by any chance your VPN provider is somehow revealing even one of these two, it means there’s a VPN leak.

How to test for them?

The simplest method to check for a VPN leak is first to note your IP address when you’re not connected to any VPN. Then connect to your VPN and check your IP address again. Make sure you’re getting a different IP and location.

If this is correct. Move on to performing a VPN leak test. There are many sites available for this, but Astrill is among the best ones. Go to Astrill’s website and run a VPN leak test.

How to prevent a VPN leak?

Using a premium and reputed VPN is your best shot against VPN leaks. Concealing your IP address is one of the most basic functionalities your VPN provider has to provide. If it fails to do so, you need a new one.

Besides changing your VPN provider, there’s not much you can do to prevent a VPN leak. Since all your data is going through the tunnel provided by your VPN provider, you don’t have a lot of control over what happens.

Also read: If Google says a website isn’t secure, what does it really mean?

What is a VPN tunnel?

A VPN tunnel is the secure, private path that your data takes while travelling between one terminus to another. It works by encapsulating data in an encrypted data packet.

A real-world equivalent would be putting a letter in an envelope and then posting it to the desired address.

How to set up a VPN tunnel?

Once you sign up with a VPN provider, you’ll be provided with a username and password. You can then proceed on to downloading the client (or app) provided by your VPN provider. From there on it is as simple as logging in to your client with the provided credentials and you’re good to go.

Some VPN providers are also clientless. This means you’ll have to set things up on your own inside your particular operating system. In this case, refer to your service provider for a detailed step-by-step guide.

3 Best VPN service

VPN downloads are widely available everywhere. Learn which ones are the best with our roundup of the top 3 best VPN services for Android, iOS, and Desktop.

For Android

For iOS

For Desktop

Also read: Why is Cyber Security important? 5 tips to protect yourself

Yadullah Abidi

Yadullah is a Computer Science graduate who writes/edits/shoots/codes all things cybersecurity, gaming, and tech hardware. When he's not, he streams himself racing virtual cars. He's been writing and reporting on tech and cybersecurity with websites like Candid.Technology and MakeUseOf since 2018. You can contact him here:

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