By now, you’ve probably heard about a digital magic tool called a VPN. Also known as a virtual private network, this service became irreplaceable software for many. As more people are concerned about privacy and security online, VPNs’ popularity is only increasing. Once only appreciated by IT professionals, VPNs are now the stars of the show, offering advanced features to protect users' data and ensure their online activities remain private. But has this simple yet complex tool always offered that much privacy? Let's take a deeper look at how VPNs evolved over time.
Simply put, a VPN is a tool that enables users to surf the internet privately by encrypting their connection and masking their real IP. A secure tunnel between the user's device and a remote server creates an encrypted connection. That said, it protects the user’s data and identity. Therefore, no third parties are able to intercept it. That includes hackers, governments, and even your internet service provider (ISP). If you’re still unsure about this terminology, you can always check any cybersecurity glossary online, which will explain a term more in-depth.
VPNs have been around for several years, but their popularity has grown exponentially only recently due to the increased need for online privacy and security. With the rise of cybercrime and government surveillance, many people are turning to VPNs to protect their online activities.
The first generation of VPN was designed to enable remote workers to connect securely to their corporate networks. These VPNs were primarily used by businesses and were relatively expensive and complex to set up. They were also slow and had limited functionality.
However, as technology evolved, VPN providers saw an opportunity to create more user-friendly and affordable services, offering advanced features, such as encryption or split tunneling.
As VPNs became more popular among the public, they also became a target for hackers and cybercriminals, who looked for vulnerabilities in the VPN protocols. This led to the development of more secure VPN protocols, such as OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, and IKEv2.
Today, various providers offer almost unbreakable VPNs that keep users even more private:
One of the most significant features distinguishing modern VPNs from older versions is their no-logs policy. A no-logs policy means that the VPN provider does not keep any logs of users' online activities. This includes details of websites visited, files downloaded, and the user's IP address.
A no-logs policy is essential for maintaining users' privacy, as it ensures that there is no data to be shared with third parties, even if the VPN provider is subpoenaed or hacked. Most modern VPNs now have a no-logs policy, which has become a standard feature in the industry.
Encryption is a crucial feature of VPNs, as it ensures that the user's data is secure and cannot be intercepted by third parties. Modern VPNs use robust encryption algorithms, such as AES-256, to ensure that users' data is protected.
Encryption also helps to protect users' privacy, as it ensures that their online activities are hidden from prying eyes. With strong encryption, users can be confident that their online activities are private and secure.
A kill switch ensures that the user's internet connection is cut off if the VPN connection is lost. This is important as it prevents the user's data from being transmitted over an unsecured connection if the VPN connection drops.
Modern VPNs now have a kill switch as a standard feature. This ensures that users' online activities remain private and secure despite a connection failure.
Many modern VPNs now include ad-blocking and malware protection as part of their service. Ad-blocking prevents online ads from appearing, improving the user's online experience and reducing the risk of malware infections.
A DNS leak is a security flaw that occurs when the user's DNS requests are sent outside the VPN tunnel, revealing their IP address to third parties. This can compromise the user's privacy and security.
Modern VPNs now include DNS leak protection, ensuring the user's DNS requests are routed through the VPN tunnel. This prevents DNS leaks and ensures that users' online activities remain private.
Split tunneling enables the user to select which apps or websites should use the VPN connection and which should not. This is particularly useful for those needing to access local and international content.
For example, a user may need to access local content, such as online banking, and international content, such as streaming services. With split tunneling, the user can select which apps or websites should use the VPN connection and which should not. This ensures that the user's online activities remain private and secure while providing access to local content.