It wasn’t all that long ago Google announced they would begin favoring sites that install a secure sockets layer and certificate on their domains so they can serve data through a secure connection. SSL technology has long been used by e-commerce sites to keep payment details safe. Now the technology industry is moving towards making all web access encrypted and less vulnerable to attack.
A virtual private network seeks to do roughly the same thing. But, instead of making site security dependent on the web server, a VPN enforces security at the client’s end of the connection. These secure connections are rapidly growing in both popularity and power. For most, they are getting easier and easier to use.
How a VPN Works
Ultimately, a virtual private network only makes one simple adjustment to a client’s Internet connection. It installs something called a “proxy server” between the user and the rest of the web. That proxy server uses the same general technology as an SSL equipped website to encrypt all the data between the client and itself. Once any data reaches the proxy, one of two things happen. It transmits on to the destination server or is received from the web and sent back to the client.
Why Is a VPN Better?
A virtual private network has two fundamental strengths. The first is the fact all data between the client and the proxy (or “gateway”) is encrypted. This feature is especially relevant on a public wireless access point. It is impossible to intercept any of the user’s data because the attacker will not have the encryption key to decode it. This is one of the main reasons governments worldwide dislike VPNs.
The second strength is the fact all of the web traffic is transmitted and received at the proxy server. As far as the rest of the web is concerned, it is the proxy server that is initiating all the connections. The only entity that knows where the requests originated or where data delivery occurs is the VPN provider.
Why Are VPNs so Popular?
Unfortunately, there are far too many ways to make use of data transmitted in the clear for it to be a practical option. Mobile devices, in particular, are incredibly insecure when it comes to places that have public Wi-Fi hotspots. A vanishingly small number of users install any security on their phones and those that do often misconfigure it.
There is a rampant incidence of identity theft and the overwhelming number of cases of ransomware and attacks on both mobile devices and desktop computers. It stands to reason users are looking for a good VPN. It’s a relatively inexpensive and straightforward way to protect their information online. And the best news is they work on any device that can connect to the web.