Virtual Private Network (VPN) adds another layer of privacy to your online activities while in use, redirecting online traffic through an encrypted tunnel between you and anyone who wants to compromise your Internet network.
This technology is useful every time you use the Internet, especially in situations where you use unfamiliar Wi-Fi networks once. For this reason, the question is often asked if virtual private networks should be used at home where most of us spend most of our time in front of a computer anyway.
In order to answer this question, it is important to understand in which situations a virtual private network can be used at home, and in which it has reduced efficiency or causes certain difficulties.
What can a virtual private network do?
To use the best features of a virtual private network, it is important to know its limitations. Its primary function is to prevent anyone, including Internet service providers, from monitoring your Internet traffic and also making it difficult to connect your Internet activity with you.
But it should be said that even then you are not completely sure because online advertisers and other entities that collect online user data can do the same even when using a virtual private network. Therefore, to solve this problem, we definitely recommend various so-called tracker blocker programs, and it is good to mention the Firefox web browser, which already has such built-in features that serve to protect your privacy.
Another important thing that is overlooked is that your online activity is already encrypted with HTTPS, and the virtual private network covers those parts that are not covered by this protocol.
It is recommended that the user always use antivirus programs, password managers and multi-layer authentication as these software complement the use of the virtual private network and make working on the computer more secure.
Threats on networks outside the home
Using networks outside the home in terms of security is difficult to distinguish because we often cannot fully determine if any of them are safe or not. How can you know if the network you use in a cafe is secure? You can only guess the answer to this question unless the SSID of the network you are using is visible somewhere.
Third parties who want to compromise someone will usually set up access points with familiar names to get users to connect. Once a potential victim is connected, an attack follows in which web activities can be monitored, and there is a possibility of intercepting them.
An attacker doesn’t even have to fool you. Many devices are configured to automatically connect to known networks and an attacker only has to use an appropriate name, which is very easy because many Wi-Fi networks have simple and recognizable names.
Similar attacks require certain skills and trial and error procedures, but a good attacker will configure the access point to match the SSID to what the devices are looking for.
Situations connecting to unknown Wi-Fi networks are exactly the moments when you need a virtual private network. The encryption tunnel it creates will block anyone on the same network as you. Even if that person manages the network, they will not be able to see and track your internet activities.
Threats on the home network
In most cases, we can clearly confirm that home networks are secure and we can only imagine some unlikely scenarios where someone really intended to compromise an ordinary user.
What is certainly realistic are slightly different forms of danger or usurpation of data privacy when we use a home network. Perhaps most of them come from your ISP, which allows you to share your data and online activities. Although different companies have different practices in this regard, as users we can never be sure exactly how our data is shared and who monitors our internet activities. Of course, right after the internet service providers there are various advertisers and other individuals and companies lurking our internet activities.
The virtual private network here will serve excellently as a tool to make the whole monitoring process more difficult. It will not provide complete protection (and we have listed earlier which other forms of protection are recommended on your computer), but it will be an important segment of access control to your activities.
Who uses virtual private networks?
The Security.org portal recently published an interesting study on virtual private networks.
They used to be used by users with more advanced IT knowledge, but today things have changed. Thirty percent of respondents who took part in the survey stated that they use virtual private networks for personal reasons, and a quarter of them cited the business environment as the reason.
When talking about the reasons for using a virtual private network, half of the respondents cite security, and an additional forty percent cited the privacy aspect.
Advantages and disadvantages
When asked if we need it virtual private network at home we can only answer that it all depends on our needs. They bring a greater degree of security during internet activities and you just need to choose the one that will adapt to our way of working.
Virtual private networks will bring you security and privacy, but this can sometimes be a problem for users who want to have an overview of internet traffic. There may also be some problems if you are surrounded by smart devices in your home.
One solution is to look for a virtual private network that operates from two channels and allows you to bookmark those apps, and sometimes URLs, that will need to use it. In the same way, it will allow you to specify those applications and URLs for which you will not need to use it.
Some virtual private networks make it easier to use in a way that allows LAN traffic, which means that the device that uses it can still communicate with other devices on the network.
The alternative is to install a VPN on your router so all the data from your network will go through a special channel without any subsequent hassle. Setting up a virtual private network on a router may sound complicated, but some companies offer pre-configured routers.
When deciding to use a virtual private network, it is important to pay attention to the fact that some streaming services block users who use it due to their distribution and licensing rules. Virtual private networks can circumvent these rules, so services such as Netflix automatically disable viewing and use of content. If you are a user who frequently consumes content from streaming services, think carefully about using a virtual private network. There is a possibility to set a static IP address here, but this is an additional job for configuration.
Another problem with using a virtual private network can be speed. When a virtual private network is active, your web traffic goes through multiple levels and the result of the process is increased latency and slower transfer speeds. When choosing your VPN be sure to pay attention to how much they burden the connection as there are differences in their offer.
Writes: Ervin Mičetić