Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) – What are they good for? Absolutely Everything!

thezootsewt/ October 3, 2016/ Cyber Defense, Telecommunications, VPNs/ 0 comments

If you aren’t using a VPN, your information and devices are likely at risk!  As with any good taco it  takes many ingredients to make a great tatsing meal. Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs as they’re commonly known, are a critical ingredient to any security plan.  We will look at several places where vpns can be used both at home on your mobile device or tablet, and that work in this article.  If you aren’t using a VPN on your devices, you are open to significant cyber security risks.

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What is a VPN?

A VPN is a virtual tunnel between your device and some end point.  All of the traffic between your device and the VPN server is encrypted and cannot be decrypted easily.   This prevents potential eavesdroppers from seeing the information that you are sending and receiving.   There are multiple types of VPNs available and each has its own strengths and weaknesses.   VPNs can be set up as a service for an entire office or they can be set up on an individual device such as a smartphone or tablet.

Why use a VPN?

There are multiple reasons to use a VPN. The primary reason is to protect the confidentiality  and integrity of your data.   For example, if you are in an airport you may want to use the free Wi-Fi access that is available.   However did you know that most hackers are able to clearly read all of the information that you are sending through the free Wi-Fi if it is not encrypted by another application.   This means that your email, your banking, your work documents, and other important information could be easily stolen or modified without your knowledge.  

Types of VPNs

There are many VPN technologies available, but I suggest using openvpn as the de facto standard for secure Communications through the internet. Technologies such as pptp and l2tp are no longer considered secure.  Openvpn provides  an open source solution that uses code that has been reviewed by many programmers throughout the world.   Additionally the encryption ciphers that are used are typically very strong, such as AES.

How to Setup a VPN

First you will need to determine if you will set up a VPN on your phone, on your computer, on your router, or on your tablet.   Security Taco VPN setup guide for your router is now available.   Once you have selected and setup your device, you will need a VPN provider.   If you tend to be on the geeky side you can create your own VPN server but there are less expensive options available if you purchase VPN service from a provider.   We have tested several VPN service providers, and recommend Private Internet Access.
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Some possible Issues with VPNs

First and foremost, check to ensure that VPN technology is legal in the place where you reside.   There are many countries in the world that consider VPNs to be threatening and illegal.   Ensure that you will not experience legal problems by using a VPN.   Secondly, there are a number of technical problems that can occur.   One common problem is the use of a VPN within a VPN.   A VPN inside of a VPN can have significant problems and not work correctly. If a VPN is setup correctly with strong encryption and hashing, then there is no need to have a VPN within a VPN. A thrid problem that can occur is  certain public Wi-Fi hotspots do not support UDP ports that are required on some versions of VPNs.   Ensure that your VPN provider can support TCP Port 443 traffic on their VPN server.

Bottom Line – You NEED a VPN

Even if you feel that your data is secure because you have never experienced events such as identity theft, ransomeware, or cyber crime, don’t assume that you are immune.  A VPN can easily shield you from many unpleasant events.  If you don’t currently have a VPN, use the SecurityTaco VPN Setup Guide to help protect yourself, your family, and your data.

Note – This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers or affiliates.  We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products.  We have tested and currently use these products and are happy to recommend them to you.

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