Virtual Private Networks

VPNs – Everything You Need to Know About Virtual Private Networks

You’re probably wondering, “why would I want or need to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)? I have nothing to hide…” and you’re probably right, however, as in real-life, not everyone on the Internet is as nice, friendly, or as trustworthy as you or your company. But, just like in real-life, not every person you see on the street is out to steal your wallet, but there are other reasons you should take advantage of a VPN. A secure VPN connection essentially hides your web activity, concealing your activity and navigation on the net in an encrypted layer, thus making your communications nearly if not impossible to read if intercepted.

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Virtual Private Networks

Put simply, a virtual private network is a group of computers (or discrete networks) connected together over the internet. Businesses use VPNs to connect to remote data centres, or for employees to connect remotely to their workplace. Individuals can use VPNs to access network resources when they’re not physically on the same LAN (local area network), or as a method for securing and encrypting their communications when they’re using an untrusted public network (i.e. internet cafes).

Virtual Private Networks (VPN’s) are increasingly being used to provide secure remote access for office staff, third party vendors, or other office locations. So how does it work?

What a VPN does is route all the traffic of your computer (or the entire network, if you’re running it on a router rather than a PC) anonymously through different servers (not from your point of origin) before reaching your internet’s ISP server. A VPN will add an additional hop (from server to server) for the route your data takes between your PC and a site such as Facebook, but it’s that extra hop that obscures its original location. When you connect to a VPN, you launch a VPN client on your computer (or click a link from a specific website), log in with your credentials, and your computer exchanges trusted keys with a remote server. Once both computers have verified each other’s identity, all of your internet communication is encrypted and secured from eavesdropping.

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Why Would You Need a VPN

There are a few different reasons to employ a VPN. You could be an employee on a business trip or a working vacation who needs access to files stored in your home country’s server. You may want to use VPN servers to access another country’s media (news, movies, sports, etc.) like in the US or UK. You may want it to connect to your employer’s corporate network. You may just want it to keep your data safe and secure from your competitors.  Depending on the size of your business, your computers are likely on the same network allowing you to share files and folders with your co-workers as well as using the same Internet connection.  This is what is typically known as a Local Area Network. As organizations expand through multiple sites, they start using Wide Area Networks. But what happens when organizations have offices that span over a number of countries?

Obviously, connecting with dedicated wires is no longer an option so many offices requiring secure and reliable networks are utilizing Virtual Private Networks. Some VPN’s are better suited for businesses requiring strong anonymity (like torrents). Others with faster speeds and dozens of server locations are perfect for media streaming and unblocking websites like YouTube, Hulu, Netflix, BBC, etc.  NST can help you set up a VPN network and customize for your office needs.

What if you’re a researcher? But you don’t want your competition to be alerted to your having accessed their site. A VPN takes care of that, because each time you search a site and head to that landing page your IP address is logged. The owner of the site can analyse Google Analytics and check their site geo-demographics and slowly reveal your company’s monitoring. Perhaps it’s not that dramatic, but if you are attempting to conduct some below-the-radar market research on your competitors for upcoming marketing events, you could do worse than avoiding tipping off your competition ahead of the game.

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Magnitude of VPNs in Australia 

In Australia, VPNs are fast becoming an essential while on the net. You may have heard a lot about VPNs over the last few months thanks to several pieces of legislation that have passed through the Australian government last October that allows the collection of meta data (addresses, times, etc., but not the content of the communication). However, the law did not address the use of “encrypted messaging apps, in other words, VPNs! Every phone call, text, and email is monitored, so if you’re an Aussie business looking for a VPN, NST has got you covered!

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Speed

Anytime you connect to a VPN server outside Australia (which is nearly all the time now) your data will be traveling thousands of miles and back to a VPN server. Generally, the further data has to travel the slower the speeds (due largely to lost data packets that have to be resent). When you add the fact that VPN encryption also takes up bandwidth, it is absolutely critical to pick a fast VPN provider to ensure you get the maximum benefit of your available bandwidth (speeds).

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Let’s Review

A Virtual Private Network is an excellent investment to ensure your digital security. We also understand more today about how data is used, where it comes from, where it goes, and who looks at it. We produce more data than ever before in our history, so companies like NST understand this, and the concerns we have toward our data privacy.

It isn’t enough anymore to simply hope as we surf the web that our data is secure and being securely stored as our data isn’t just confined to laptops anymore. Our smartphones, tablets, and even our TVs utilize data, and as such, become privy to our most sensitive information.  They need securing, just as we secure our computers.

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