We all have heard about VPN sometime. Most of us normal users of internet use it. To bypass the region based restrictions of services like Netflix or Youtube ( Yes, youtube has geo- restrictions too). In fact, VPN is actually mostly used for this purpose only.
You ever wondered about it, like, how does it do that? Well, It actually doesn’t require you to have much knowledge to understand the process. This article will help you understand in simple terms the working of VPN.
To Understand VPN, we need to have knowledge of some basic concepts of modern day networking:
Network : It is a set of computers interconnected either through the ethernet ports with cables or wireless medium such as wifi with the help of a router.
IP Address : internet protocol address is used to identify your computer among others. The data transmitted over network contains the IP address of sender as well as receiver.
Service provider : This is the company that provides you access to internet services. It has an IP address too which determines your location or country.
Now, we know the basics of networking, let’s understand what VPN is.
What is VPN?
VPN is the abbreviation of Virtual Private Network. It is basically a network, except, anyone can just join the network from anywhere with an account. Okay, but, How exactly does VPN help in covering our identity or bypassing the regional filters?
How VPN works?
The default setup of our internet connection works like this.
Each colour between networks carries a different IP address. Your PC or mobile in a local network such as your home wifi, have different IP addresses. Your router has been assigned a different IP address by your ISP. All the data from your PC as well as your mobile is transmitted to your isp and contains the IP address of the router. Your router acts as a representative for all the devices connected to it. Your ISP forwards that data to Internet with its IP address assigned to it over your router’s address. So, your IP essentially is represented by your ISP which has a defined location to it. Let's say that location is India. Now, when you request for a video from youtube which is not available for your region. Youtube immediately replies saying that the resource is not available for your location. This is especially true for Spotify and other services due to licensing and censor restrictions.
Now, let’s see how VPN works. When you connect to a VPN service. It redirects all your traffics through its servers. All your data transmission is transmitted via your router, ISP to VPN servers. Then, the data is transmitted to internet or youtube like in our above case with its IP address. Youtube thinks that the request for the video is from a US (or whatever country you selected) based user and provides access to the video. The video or resource is then transmitted to you back by the VPN servers. This is called bypassing regional filters.
Why use VPN?
VPN is used for bypassing regional filters everyday, but that is not the only advantage it provides, VPN also helps hide your identity on the Internet. VPN can actually encrypt your data with powerful security protocols such as IPsec, L2TP, etc.. which helps protect us from data miners. VPN also enables you to access sites that are blocked by your country. For example, some torrent sites are blocked by the telecom department for your country. You can access them using VPN service.
VPN was although originally designed to be used for accessing shared resources of a workplace network from other locations. Now, most VPN providers are consumer based businesses providing dedicated servers all across the world.There are many services offering paid and free VPN servers. Most of them based in US and Europe.
Although VPN gives you some advantages in some cases, we also need to remember that your data is sent through VPN servers and they can use the data or sell that data to others who may use it for purposes which are probably not in your best interests. So, always remember to not do any banking transactions unless you bought a paid VPN service which encrypts all your data.
Now, as you can understand how VPN works, you also understand the risks and advantages it poses in special cases. Always be careful when using a VPN service. VPN is also available in smartphones too. You can use a VPN service from any device or OS these days. Don’t forget that it might not provide the same speeds as your ISP. Now, you know when to use VPN.