VPN is not an alien concept anymore for today’s internet users. Today, you can see a drastic shift in regular VPN users, but people hardly knew about it back in time. This rising popularity of downloading a VPN amongst the internet users raises some very basic questions such as what is a VPN, when should one use it, and why should you use one?
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. It is popular because of its ease and efficiency, which offers users the three most essential features that make the online browsing experience seamless, i.e., security, privacy, and freedom. A VPN creates a secure connection between the user and the internet by sending the data traffic through an encrypted virtual tunnel by hiding the IP address and location, hence maintaining anonymity. This helps the users to access the websites and online services that are otherwise blocked. The encrypted tunnel also keeps hackers and cybercriminals away, assisting in keeping the device not vulnerable to any attacks.
It can be overwhelming to distinguish between the kinds of virtual private networks available in today’s age. Let alone figure out which type is the best choice of UK VPN that will fulfill all your needs, but still, it can be categorized broadly into three categories – remote access, intranet-based site-to-site, and extranet-based site-to-site. One can find individual users mostly using remote access VPNs, whereas big businesses often use site-to-site VPNs for corporate purposes.
Remote Access VPN is by far the most popular one of the lot because it is mostly used for personal purposes. It connects the user to a secure remote server to access a private network, and the added encryption ensures that the security isn’t compromised. The main benefit of remote access VPNs is hassle-free setup and use. With the right kind of software, this type of VPN is newcomer and veteran-friendly and is ideal for personal use.
Whereas, site-to-site VPN works differently. Their main goal is to provide multiple users in various fixed locations to access each other’s resources so that the sharing of information and resources can be done securely. These are known as the intranet-based site-to-site VPN. The other kind is extranet-based and is mainly used when a connection between two separate intranets is required but without the possibility of one accessing the other directly. These aren’t easy to implement, as they need specialized equipment and serious resources. Besides, this type of VPN technology is built with a purpose and doesn’t offer the flexibility that’s found in commercial VPN services.
While VPNs are illegal in many countries, using a VPN in the United Kingdom isn’t illegal if it is done within the legal guidelines. In November 2016, the Investigatory Powers Act changed the browsing scenario for the people in the UK. The act legalized the surveillance of all the residents with very little oversight forcing people to take the shelter of VPN for the following reasons:
1. To add extra security to personal browsing
Since your online activity is subjected to intense scrutiny by shadowy government agencies who can track anything and everything you do on the web, you can own a VPN subscription and add extra security to your browsing at home. VPNs help encrypt and mask your actual IP address, thus providing a safe channel to access the internet without being scrutinized.
2. Unblocks geo-restricted content with ease
Since the geo-blocking works by tracking a person’s IP address, VPNs are used to get around ‘geo-restrictions,’ which prevent the watching of video content outside of certain countries by masking the real IP address and substituting it with the one in a different country.
3. To access local content while being abroad
It is also an excellent option to access local content while being stationed in a different country. British ex-pats and holiday makers can use a VPN to watch local channels even while they’re physically present in a different country. All they have to do is log in to their VPN service, select a server based in the UK, and establish a connection, thereby opening up content previously unavailable.
While using a free VPN in the UK has become more and more popular for the reasons listed above, there are still some drawbacks to using it. It shouldn’t be used as a comprehensive, end-to-end security solution, as it could also be leaking the user’s IP address due to the legal obligations. This makes it extremely important always to check the level of encryption a specific VPN provides before giving away any private or personal details online because it’s still better to be safe than sorry.
Author Bio: Efrat Vulfsons is a data-driven writer and freelance publicist, parallel to her soprano opera singing career. Efrat holds a B.F.A from the Jerusalem Music Academy in Opera Performance. Her LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/efrat-vulfsons/