Both ordinary people and organizations rely on VPNs for a number of reasons. A secure connection to a shared network; keeping up to date with sports, news, and popular TV shows, accessing console exclusives, P2P sharing. The reasons are endless. But online safety and anonymity is what everyone expects VPNs to provide. Some are really good at it too. The level of technology services are working with means that we’re now more protected against snooping than ever. Although some services are more expensive than others, there are a lot of free ones out there too; some better than others. But choosing one that gives the right level of protection and performance is going to be difficult. Although you’re saving money, you won’t get the performance you’re bound to expect from it. And you won’t experience anywhere near the benefits a paid user would, even if you choose one of the better names. Another thing to consider is that the app you’ve installed might not be one you can trust. Some will use your data against your will, operate on a peer-to-peer format, and many don’t offer the level of encryption you would expect.
Author: Adam Stevenson
Adam Stevenson is a journalist and copywriter, and has written for a mix of several publications and agencies back in England. Since moving to Amsterdam he now works as an editor within television. Always keen to learn new things, Adam took an interest in cyber security and now spends most evenings researching and blogging about VPNs. In his spare time you’ll find him in a Dutch pub within the winding streets of Amsterdam, or at home playing his guitar.
Watching TV hasn’t been confined to the box for a long time. There are numerous websites out there that allow you to watch live television broadcasts from numerous countries. Although there are plenty of great VOD (video on demand) services, like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, not everyone’s prepared to sit by while the new Game of Thrones or Walking Dead is airing in the States. Sports fans might prefer to stream international football as it happens, without having to settle for the highlights, and followers of current affairs may wish to digest their news through foreign sources. Many of these services, however, are region-specific – meaning they can only be used by people located in the same area as the website’s servers. If you’re looking to get around these restrictions, you’re going to need a VPN. A VPN (virtual private network) allows you to connect to a private network over the public network. It provides access to all Geo-restricted websites and will secure your browser from being tracked by your ISP, as well as any hackers. If you’re looking to access a blocked Internet television service, just choose one of your VPN’s servers which is based in that region. It really is that easy.
The FIFA World Cup is just around the corner, and despite tensions between many of the countries and its host, the tournament is going ahead. Now, not everyone can afford tickets to the matches, let alone accommodation and travel as well, and not everyone can take the time out to travel to Russia. Several countries, such as the UK, will be airing matches on live television free of charge. But fans from certain places in the world won’t have such easy access to the games. Some might have access to a limited number of matches, others might not be able to access it without cable television, and others still might not be able to access them at all.
Studies suggest as many as one in four people use a VPN, but how many of them know what a DNS leak is – or the ways it can be prevented? When the device you’re using sends protected DNS queries to your ISP’s DNS servers, a security breach, known as a ‘DNS leak’, can often occur. In many cases, the user isn’t even aware it happens. You connect to your VPN and then you’re safe, right? Well, not always. Rather than route your requests through the VPN, they go straight to the ISP’s DNS servers and bypass the VPN entirely. In other words, you’ve exposed yourself to eavesdropping – when browsing is visible to hackers and your ISP. Assuming you’re concerned with online anonymity – on a business or personal level – then this poses a problem. We touch upon the ways to solve these issues further on, but first let’s understand why it happens.
A VPN makes a home or business network private. It provides your computers, tablets and smartphones a secure, encrypted connection to shared and public networks. It gives access to anonymous browsing, secure use of torrent clients, the sharing of corporate resources, and access to geo-restricted content; as well as many other positives. But what happens if your VPN has issues and disconnects? When the penny finally drops, and you realise you’re not connected anymore, it could already be too late. The ‘Kill Switch’ is a feature many of the best providers offer to protect you from that.