Everybody is talking about VPN technology. What, precisely, are they referring to? Users and potential customers alike are questioning Google about it, and here are the eight most common inquiries in the famous search engine:
What exactly are VPNs?
VPN means Virtual Private Networks. They are online apps or clients that can provide content encryption services with the intention of protecting the users’ privacy and security, avoiding contact with unwanted agents such as hackers, malware developers, crypto miners, cybercriminals, and copyright trolls, or even preventing situations like censorship, geo-blocking, surveillance, and direct advertising.
VPN apps create a virtual tunnel for your locations and connection details to pass through, protected against the mentioned agents. VPN companies effectively take the Internet Service Providers out of the equation, positioning themselves between the user and the World Wide Web and handling requests.
These companies can hide your IP address, which is the most obvious detail about your location, when browsing the web, unblocking international sites, torrenting, or even playing online games. They are all-around privacy and security suites.
How can I set up a VPN?
To the contrary of what people may believe, VPN technology is incredibly easy to install, set up, and use, even more so than other security or privacy tools, such as some antivirus software brands, for example.
The process can vary from brand to brand, of course. However, in a general view of things, it works like this:
- Choose a VPN brand that suits your needs and your budget
- Go to that VPN’s website
- Pick your preferred plan, payment method, and payment frequency (monthly, yearly, or free trial or service)
- Register for the VPN service. You may need to provide some personal information. If you pick wisely, your VPN brand will not keep or share this information with anybody
- Create a username and a password to sign in when you want
- Download and install the VPN brand on your device
- Launch the VPN app
- Sign in to your VPN account
- Connect to a virtual server, and you are done!
Are they legal?
That would depend on the country you are in. VPN use is allowed in the vast majority of countries around the world. Nations like the United States, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Japan, Australia, Brazil, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Argentina, Colombia, Canada, Mexico, or India allow the resource without restrictions.
However, and since VPN can help mask the use of specific pages or services that some countries’ authorities prefer their netizens to avoid, its usage is restricted, frowned upon or thoroughly blocked in some locations.
China, Russia, Iran, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Turkey, Iraq, Turkmenistan, Belarus, and North Korea, for example, all ban or restrict the use of encryption technologies such as Virtual Private Networks.
Are they safe?
In general, VPN technology is very safe, since it is designed to protect the user’s content with fierce encryption and efficient protocols, The level of safety may vary from brand to brand, according to the resources that each one of them may have.
For example, it is widely assumed, and for a good reason, that paid VPN brands are better and more secure than free ones, because they offer stronger encryption and fewer DNS, IP, or WebRTC leak issues, not to mention the fact that they often have strict no logging policies.
On the other hand, free VPNs not only are known (most of them, actually) to keep activity logs but also share them to third parties. That practice is the equivalent of poison to somebody’s online privacy. Generally speaking, VPN technology is safe, depending on the brand you choose.
Can you be tracked using a VPN?
This question goes hand in hand with the previous one. In theory, VPN technology is implemented to avoid hackers, cybercriminals, copyright trolls, surveillance, direct advertising, censorship, and other agents or situations. It does it by hiding your IP address and lending you a new one from the location you choose for the duration of your session.
However, if the encryption quality of the brand you choose is weak, the chances are that your IP address, the real one, gets leaked around the web and you get caught or tracked. Paid VPN brands often make use of security features to lower the probabilities of that happening: among them are DNS leak protection, a kill switch, double VPN, and top-end, military-grade encryption.
Can a VPN be blocked?
Yes, it is a possibility. If a VPN connection is blocked, it often means that the agent that implements the measure has found a way to track it. For example, countries like Iran or China block VPN connections, or at least “throttle” Internet speed when they recognize that a user is taking advantage of such a tool.
Streaming services such as Netflix are also famous for blocking some VPN brands, in a never-ending battle with users that implement the technology. If VPN companies don’t make the proper adjustments to avoid being recognized as such by Netflix, customers will see the dreaded “proxy error,” and they won’t be able to use the VPN to unblock all Netflix’s regions.
Will a VPN get around blocked sites?
Yes, VPN technology is used, in addition to their privacy and security enhancing capabilities, to unblock restricted or geo-blocked international content. That is one of the reasons behind the success of VPNs.
If you are in a country or a network that blocks access to a particular page or service, you should know that it does it by recognizing that your IP address is coming from the specific nation or network. To unblock the website or streaming service you want to enjoy, you need to hire a VPN and acquire a different IP number from a place that doesn’t restrict access.
What is Stealth VPN?
The Stealth VPN feature is not offered by all VPN brands. It is a server or protocol that makes VPN traffic look like normal web traffic, even in the case that the network admin or firewall performs a deep packet inspection.
Stealth VPN remains a useful tool for VPN users to avoid being detected and blocked by an agent. Several brands use it under differing names.
TorGuard has everything you should look for in a VPN brand: a DNS leak protection, a kill switch, anonymous email and proxy (both come as separate services,) and a top-notch customer service with a live chat. You can connect up to five devices at the same time.
In conclusion, VPN technology itself is safe, legal in most nations, and easy to implement. It is a perfect solution to protect your content against prying eyes and to unblock restricted or geo-blocked sites.
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