Using a VPN: Advantages and functions

Using a VPN: Advantages and functions

Cyberattacks have become a pervasive threat, affecting private users, businesses and governments worldwide. The protection of personal data is therefore crucial. To protect your privacy on the Internet, it is advisable to use a VPN, among other things. A virtual private network (VPN) creates a secure connection via the Internet between a device and the network to which it is connected. But how exactly does a VPN tunnel work and what advantages does it offer?

How does a VPN work? Functionality, definition and history explained

The abbreviation VPN stands for "virtual private network" and functions as a kind of secure tunnel between a device and the Internet. All data that is sent and received is encrypted and anonymized.

The history of VPN began in the 1990s, when the Internet became increasingly popular and the need for secure connections grew. Microsoft was involved in the development of VPN technology - in 1996, a Microsoft employee developed the PPTP protocol (Peer-to-Peer Tunneling Protocol), which was able to establish a secure connection between the Internet and a device. Three years later, the specification was published and further VPN protocols were developed, which were initially mainly used by companies to enable secure remote access to their internal network.

With time and increasing concerns about online security and privacy, private individuals also began to use VPNs. Today, VPN services are a widespread and indispensable tool for users all over the world.

Using a VPN - these are the different VPN types

There are basically three different types of VPN: end-to-site VPN, site-to-site VPN and end-to-end VPN.

End-to-Site VPN
End-to-site VPNs, also known as remote access VPNs, are ideal for individuals and allow secure access to a network from a remote location. They are particularly useful for mobile workers or people who want to access geographically restricted content.

Site-to-Site VPN
This type of VPN network is mainly used by large companies and enables two or more LANs at different locations or branches to be connected.

End-to-End VPN
With an end-to-end VPN, often also called remote desktop VPN, two work computers are connected directly to each other, whereby the corresponding VPN software must be installed on both end devices in order to establish the VPN tunnel.

Using a VPN - advantages at a glance

Many Internet users are asking themselves whether or not they should use VPNs. In the face of increasing cybercrime and data security threats, the answer is a resounding yes. Those who use a VPN benefit from many advantages. These include, for example:

· Privacy and security: A VPN hides the IP address and location, which means that online activities are difficult to track. As all data is encrypted, users can surf anonymously and their privacy on the Internet is protected. If you use a public WLAN (for example in a café or at the airport), connecting with a VPN is particularly recommended.

· Bypassing country blocks (geo-blocking): A VPN enables access to content (such as streaming services) that may be blocked in the country in which the user is currently located.

· Saving money: Some online platforms vary their prices based on the user's location, including hotels, car rental companies and airlines. By using the VPN, you can change your virtual location and potentially benefit from cheaper offers.

Using a VPN or not - possible disadvantages

If you want to use a VPN, you should be aware that some VPN programs can reduce your Internet speed. This depends, among other things, on the type of encryption used.

In addition, some VPNs that are offered free of charge have many restrictions, have few functions and do not offer secure encryption. Good VPN services, on the other hand, are not always free, so you have to expect to pay a monthly fee. Another disadvantage is that VPN networks are not legal in all countries. The countries in which VPNs are not allowed to be used include China and Turkey.

Using VPN and more - further measures to minimize online threats

In addition to using a VPN, there are a number of other measures that can help us minimize threats on the World Wide Web. For example, you should regularly update all software and operating systems to ensure that you have the latest security patches and updates. The use of secure passwords and private browsing mode are also other tips for more privacy online. Caution is also advised with so-called phishing emails (more on this topic in our article: "What is phishing?").

Using a VPN correctly - what you need to consider

From increased security and anonymity to bypassing geo-blocking, using a VPN is an effective way to improve our online privacy, alongside other measures such as using an anonymous search engine or taping the laptop camera. Although using a VPN also brings some drawbacks - such as a possible reduction in Internet speed - the advantages already mentioned outweigh these. However, it is important to choose a trustworthy and reliable VPN provider that protects our data with the highest security standards.