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VPN: everything you need to know about Virtual Private Networks

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A VPN (Virtual Private Network) a virtual private network that protects your online browsing by encrypting your internet traffic. To do this it uses a reserved communication channel (VPN tunnel), created over a public network infrastructure, guaranteeing privacy, anonymity and security to your navigation.

Simply put the VPN a (safe) passage tunnel between your device and the internet. In this article we will explain everything you need to know to choose and use the best VPN to be able to surf the internet safely and without problems.

What is a VPN

What is a VPN

A VPN is a tool you can use for protect the connection when you need to perform some operations such as using public wi-fi, connecting abroad, accessing certain types of content.

When we connect, each of us has a specific IP address, that is, a personal identification code for your internet connection, which makes us recognizable and traceable online. So whatever you make visible to anyone who wants to know.

Basically the VPN allows you to do 3 things in particular:

      • increase yours online privacy;
      • to provide increased online security;
      • surf the internet more freely.

But how does a VPN guarantee security, privacy and freedom?

When you connect the VPN redirect your connection internet, through a secure and encrypted connection, to a remote server, managed by a VPN provider, offering you a secure launch platform before accessing the various websites. This process called Tunneling.

In detail, once the connection is established, your data is subjected to this procedure:

      1. The VPN software on the device you are connecting from encrypt your data traffic and send it to the VPN server through a secure connection.
      2. The data, encrypted, comes decrypted from the VPN server.
      3. The VPN server sends your data to the internet and receives an answer.
      4. At this point traffic is encrypted again from the VPN server and sent to you.
      5. Finally the VPN software on your device decrypts the data again so that you can understand and use them.

This allows the VPN capable of disguise the IP address, hiding your identity both in the incoming data traffic and in the outgoing traffic and therefore, in this way:

      • yours privacy it will be protected because your personal IP address is hidden when you connect with the VPN server, becoming the IP of the VPN server. While normally many sites and government agencies can see what you do online, with a VPN your online actions can only be traced back to the VPN server, but not to you.
      • yours safety in navigation it will be greater because by encrypting your data and using a secure tunnel it becomes much more difficult for hackers and other parties to intercept them.
      • your navigation will be more free because you will be able to connect to the servers of another country, as if you were there, circumventing restrictive restrictions and browsing censorships. In fact, many use it to access websites or streaming services from another country.

How a corporate VPN works

If you work in a company, you will certainly be dealing with a private connection protected by a VPN. This private network was born precisely to ensure security for large companies that had a lot of important data to protect. Today, in addition to providing a high level of encryption for data and information protection from external attacks, it also allows employees who work remotely to connect to the internet as if they were in the office.

The corporate VPN also allows:

      • To computers connected to the network (whether in the same office or outside) of communicate with each other as if they were all physically connected
      • Hide online activities both to the service provider and to government instruments
      • Virtually change your geographic location to access sites blocked or censored by geo-location
      • Lower the costs of many operations and IT related to your business
      • Reduce transit time and transportation costs for remote customers

A corporate VPN works almost the same way as a normal home VPN, however, while with the latter you can prevent anyone from tracking your online activity, with the corporate ones you will have to share your data with all the employees of the company.

Types of VPN connection

There are 2 types of VPNs to choose from, depending on the needs of companies:

    • the connection Remote access VPN, very simple and common, mainly used by employees who work in smartworking. a dedicated and private connection, which allows some specific users to remotely access a server on the company's private network which acts as an Internet network.
    • the connection Site-to-site VPN used to connect offices located in multiple locations or offices of other organizations in a single private network with the help of a public network. All this allowing for routing and secure communication. Each location must have a dedicated router, i.e. a node in the VPN to send data to recipients according to a client / server model, sharing information with remote locations in a completely transparent way. In this typology, two sub-classes of site-to-site VPN can be distinguished:
    • VPN-Intranet that join multiple offices of the same company;
    • VPN-Extranet joining companies and / or offices outside the organization.

For which activities it is advisable to use a VPN

There are many online activities that make you vulnerable to hacker attacks or privacy violations, but with the use of a VPN you can surf as and how much you want in peace of mind. Let's see what are the activities for which the use of a VPN is recommended.

To connect from public wifi

Wi-Fi and public hotspots that you can access for free, even if password protected, they are dangerous, because simple enough for a hacker who uses the same network to read your personal data.

To travel

When you travel, especially abroad, you may have difficulty accessing some sites. In fact, some states block access to sites such as Facebook, YouTube, Gmail and other Google services. With VPNs you can change your IP address so that your browsing results in a different place where you can access the content you need.

Also consider government surveillance by using a logless VPN you can protect yourself from tracking by Internet Service Provides (ISPs) and general government surveillance

To extend security coverage to all your devices

Some VPNs allow you to extend security not to a single device, for example the Smartphone, but also to all the other devices you own such as PC and tablet, so that you can always have a secure connection available at any time and from any device.

To expand your business

This functionality, which we did not initially foresee, was indicated by Angelo Valenza, CEO of Clickable, an agency in Bologna specialized in SEO and Google Ads.

In fact, if you have a company in Italy and you want to expand your business abroad, you will need to analyze the market and competitors, but from Italy it may not always be easy to do it.

Some foreign competitors may have blocked Italian IPs, or in any case IPs outside their countries of origin, and redirected you to the international version of the site, or blocked you. With a VPN, you have the option of change the IP address and search just like a local person would, making sure you can carry out your market research, and understand the market positioning, the target audience of your competitors and in general everything you need to be able to enter foreign markets.

To access streaming content

Streaming sites like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime have different catalogs and subscriptions for each country. If your IP address in Italy, they will not allow you to access the catalog of another country, but with VPNs you can get around this block and access the contents of Netflix and other streaming platforms without problems.

To use file sharing services

Many ISPs try to discourage users from sharing P2P (Peer-to-Peer) files – the most effective way to share large amounts of information on the network – by setting bandwidth limits that slow the speed of a connection and monitoring access to these sharing sites. With VPNs you can do this in anonymity.

VPN protocols

There are several for the VPN transmission encryption protocols, that is, a set of rules defined in order to manage communication between devices, ensuring that data pass through the tunnel and arrive from the client to the server without being able to be decrypted. Each protocol has its specificity and contributes to the protection of the data packets being transmitted. .

The choice among these should depend on the needs and requirements desired, the best known are:

  • OpenVPN: very reliable, versatile open source protocol and offers a perfect balance between speed, security and reliability;
  • PPTP: Point to Point Tunneling Protocol a protocol now a little dated, (the first supported by Microsoft) but compatible with any VPN-enabled device. However, it is no longer very safe, in fact there have often been serious violations by the National Security Agency;
  • L2TP / IPsec: a protocol with a certain level of security, resulting from the implementation of 2 separate protocols, L2TP and IPsec. This is because L2TP does not provide any encryption by itself, while IPsec supports keys up to 256 bits. This combined protocol allows the encrypted transmission of data packets (IPSEC) over a virtual tunnel (L2TP);
  • SSTP: Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol one of the best protocols out there, launched by Windows. fully integrated into the operating system and simple to use on Microsoft, while on other operating systems extremely difficult to use it. But without doubt one of the safest protocols;
  • HTTPS: Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure a well-known protocol whose application is used for a secure hypertext transfer based on the SSL / TLS transport protocol.

How to set up a VPN on Windows 10, iPhone and Android

Depending on the device you are connecting from, there are specific procedures for configuring a VPN.

Configuration on Windows 10

To use a VPN from your Windows 10 PC, Microsoft provides a very simple and detailed guide on how to connect to a VPN, dividing the operation into two phases: creating a VPN profile and then connecting.

In this regard, you can find good VPN profiles on the VPNbook site, which offers precisely this type of access with username and password.

Configuration on Iphone, IPad and iOs

In order to configure a device from the iPhone production company, you must instead follow the following steps:

  • choose the VPN;
  • go to the Settings > section VPN > choose the item Add VPN configuration;
  • here you will have to choose the protocol of the VPN;
  • at this point, at the top right, you will find the button end, click and the new configured VPN will start to be visible in the dedicated section;
  • Finally select the new item and activate the option State, in the following photo you are shown how to proceed.

https://www.iphonecountry.it/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/connettere-vpn-ios.jpg

Configuration on Android

In the latest versions of Android it is very simple to configure VPNs because they are managed directly by the operating system, just install the app of the VPN service of your choice, start it and accept the warning message.

Configuration on the router

If you want to configure a VPN on the router you must first of all be sure that yours supports its installation. In fact, many routers do not support installation, but there are now many models that instead have a preconfiguration to the VPN. So your options are:

  • buy a preconfigured VPN router that will be immediately ready for use
  • or use a router that supports a VPN and configure it manually

In the second case, each router has its own configuration instructions, however in most routers structured in a similar way and the steps are roughly the following:

  • first of all you need to understand what the router's IP address is. You can find it in the instruction manual, or by looking at the default gateway address on your devices.
  • open the browser and write down the router's IP address as URL (192.168.13.1) in order to obtain a login request for the router's administrative console.
  • obtained access to the administrator functions of the router, in the section Administration you should find the command that allows the firmware update
  • then download and install a firmware, the most used DD-WRT (alternatively c Tomato or others less used)
  • enter the firmware, go to the tab VPN, enter the section Services and select Launch OpenVPN client up Skills
  • enter the information you will be asked about the VPN you intend to use and at that point you should be connected

How to block a VPN?

VPNs allow you to get around geo-blocking and censorship in a safe and fast way, but some governments and companies that try to control Internet access have on their side anti-VPN technology which can detect and block users who use VPN, preventing access to websites and local networks.

These blocks can be overcome by using VPNs that have a large number of servers in the country you want to use as a virtual location and that regularly update the IP addresses of their servers.

In particular there are 3 types of block:

  • Door lock: the data passes through various ports, those most used by VPNs may be closed by network administrators to prevent you from accessing them. To get around the block in turn, you'll have to configure your VPN to use a lesser known port.
  • IP blocking: when you use a VPN, websites don't see your IP address, but the location and IP address of the server you're connected to. So many sites, but especially streaming platforms like Netflix, compare visitors' IP addresses with a database of known VPN servers and, if they notice matches, block access to their website. In this case better use VPN providers that regularly change IP addresses their servers so that Netflix and others cannot identify them.

DPI block (Deep packet inspection): large corporations and governments can use DPI techniques to examine data that travels through their network and act to block, redirect or record data. To get around this block you can use Tor as a browser associated with Obfsproxy, a program that changes the way data appears on the network, you can prevent DPI detection.

Paid and free VPNs: which one to choose

Although most VPNs are paid, there are numerous VPNs that offer a free service. The choice of which type of VPN to use depends on both the economic availability and the use you will have to make of it.

Obviously, paid VPNs have more funds to invest to give a better and more complete service than those which, being free, will have more difficulty in offering complete and efficient services. To decide whether to rely on a paid or free VPN you have to think about analyzing 3 factors in particular:

  • Safety: the main factor in choosing a VPN. Free services usually offer a PPTP connection protocol, which is the simplest configuration you can have but not the most secure, making these VPN connections much more vulnerable to external attacks. The payment services, on the other hand, offer various VPN protocols, of the IPSec or L2TP type, much more secure.
  • Bandwidth available: free VPNs don't have enough funds to invest in quality infrastructure, resulting in slow connections. Paid VPNs, on the other hand, have the necessary funds to improve their infrastructure for a much faster and safer service.
  • Number of servers: free VPNs rely on a few servers while paid ones invest in a wide range of servers, guaranteeing always-on connections and smooth streaming without buffering.

Are VPNs legal?

Many questioned the legality of these virtual networks. In reality there is no answer that applies to every state: for most countries in the legal world, but every country has its own laws and rules. In fact, originally the VPNs were used to provide a secure network to large organizations, over time for its uses they have been extended to illegal, non-recommended or in any case unorthodox practices.

In any case in most western countries there is no danger of running into problems with the authorities if you use a VPN connection, the problem for those countries with authoritarian laws such as China, North Korea and Turkmenistan where freedom to use the internet is limited. In these countries in fact absolutely forbidden to use VPN otherwise, governments cannot control the information that their citizens can access, monitor and record the behavior of private users.

The best 4 VPNs

We have selected what we believe are the 4 best paid VPMs in circulation.

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is probably the best of the VPNs available today.

Offers a 30-day free trial period. At the end of the test, you can continue with an annual or monthly subscription that does not exceed 10 cost, or enjoy a special promotion for a 15-month subscription.

Extremely fast and safe, has app adaptable to all types of devices like Mac, Windows, Android, iOS, Linux, router and more. The only flaw: it does not have an ad blocking tool.

This formidable VPN still offers:

  • Unlimited bandwidth that always guarantees a fast network
  • Choice of 160 locations in 94 countries to keep your real location hidden
  • Fast and anonymous P2P / torrent traffic
  • Unblocking Netflix USA, BBC, HBO and more
  • No web activity log

CyberGhost

CyberGhost VPNLike ExpressVPN, CyberGhost has everything you need to make yourself invisible. With this VPN you can benefit from 45 trial days and a 79% savings if you choose the 3-month subscription. With 256-bit encryption, it can keep you hidden from anything. It has almost 6000 servers, with fast navigation although it is possible to connect up to 7 devices simultaneously. With this VPN you also have available;

  • Fast and anonymous P2P / torrent traffic
  • Unblocking Netflix USA, BBC, HBO and more
  • No web activity log
  • More than 90 countries available
  • Effective non-registration policy
  • Automatic ad blocking

NordVPN

North-vpnNordVPN is also an excellent VPN with more than 5800 servers all over the world which, after a month of free trial, allows you to choose various subscription plans and promotions. With one account up to 6 devices can be connected in order to offer protection also to your friends or your family. It has almost the same characteristics as the previous VPNs, except for the presence of tools that block ads but availability of a limited number of countries available, that is only 55.

Surfshark

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For those who do not want to spend a lot but still want good protection, you can choose Surfshark: cheap and easy to use. Although not among the best around, it still has good qualities that can come in handy:

  • accounts to which you can associate an unlimited number of devices
  • Fast and anonymous P2P / torrent traffic
  • 30-day money back guarantee
  • Block advertising
  • Very low prices and possibility to pay with cryptocurrencies

Webscribe

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We close the ranking with one of the best free VPNs, Webscribe presents a free version without constraints with 10 GB of data per month. It provides 300 servers and an ad-blocker against social media tracking. available in over 60 countries e compatible with both pc and mobile.

Has a good customer service with an active support team via live chat, ticket service and e-mail. The disadvantage of this VPN, like that of many free VPNs, the speed is not excellent

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