VPN or Virtual Private Network is a service used to create a secure and private network over the internet. It uses a VPN Client and a VPN Server to create secure network using insecure public internet.
VPN works by encrypting all the users internet traffic and sending securely over the internet, that intercepting data by the ISP’s, intruder or agencies is eventually impossible. Thus, it will create a more robust and secure network.
In this article, we will give you insight how really the VPN works. For VPN to work, user must have VPN client and a VPN server.
VPN Client is an app or a software that is installed at the user end. One of the VPN client is Cisco Anyconnect from CISCO, Google One VPN and apps like Open VPN, Free VPN, Kaspersky VPN, etc.
It is used to encrypt the outgoing and decrypt the incoming traffic. For outgoing traffic, VPN Client which we have on our mobile devices and PCs will encrypt the internet traffic like what we are going to search and surf, before finally sending to the VPN server. It also encrypt the destination IP addresses so the ISP’s won’t know for what we are surfing.
It is the server side of the client. The VPN apps that we installed will communicate to the VPN server. The VPN server will now decrypt the incoming traffic from VPN client. VPN server actually connects to the internet. The details working mechanism is shown below with picture.
Working Mechanism Details:
Before using VPN:
Suppose, you want to access TikTok, you just open app or open browser. And you get contents from TikTok server that you have requested for. Behind this, every search and traffic you generate is gone through ISP’s switches, routers, gateway and to the final destination: TikTok server. The server would knows from which source IP, the request is coming and would send the requested content to it. The ISP’s would know every search and traffic it is destined for. In this case, TikTok is the destination. This is because, in computer network, every packet must contain source and destination IP which identifies from where the packet have originated and where it should be finally reach.
Suppose your country have banned TikTok from accessing to it. Now, everyone say, you can access TikTok by using VPN and you randomly installed one of top listed VPN app. And you get easily access to it, But how does VPN really works? We will describe it below.
After using VPN:
The VPN app/program you installed is known as VPN client. Now, in VPN client (for now mobile app) you select one of the country where TikTok is not banned, Eg UK. Now, VPN client which we have in our mobile makes a connection with VPN server that is located at UK. This is the first crucial steps before actually VPN really works. It identifies in which server the outgoing traffic should be sent and making right connection.
Now, our VPN client is connected to VPN server based on UK. So, from now on, every search you made on mobile or surf contents on TikTok, it will first go into VPN server. Before sending to VPN server, contents will be encapsulated and encrypted so that every switches, routers and gateway of the ISP wouldn’t able to decrypt the contents that we searched for. Earlier, ISP knows where the traffic should be routed and it goes into TikTok server but now after using VPN, ISP’s devices only know it should go to the VPN server. They don’t know what traffic it contents. It’s all sent by VPN client using encryption.
Still, search traffic is not reached to the TikTok server or destination server. It have only reached to the VPN server at UK. Now, VPN server would decrypt the messages. VPN sever then forwarded the contents to the Internet and requested data is received by VPN server. The requested data is now encrypted once more when the server receives it before it’s sent back to your device. Once received, the data is decrypted by the VPN client and you get access to the contents(for now TikTok contents).
One of the major things that lies in between VPN client and VPN Server is the tunneling.
Tunneling is the process of crossing/sending data across different networks. In any network, every sort of data flows in the form of packets. Data traveling in a VPN tunnel is split into pieces called “packets”, which are then placed inside other data packets. This process is known as “encapsulation”. All this encapsulated data is then encrypted and is sent through the public network. Thus, Tunneling helps to reach their intended destination by encapsulation and encryption, which is typically a private network. So in private network only intended or configured devices can have access to it.
Advantages of VPN-Virtual Private Network:
There are numerous advantages of VPN and is listed below.
1. Hide Your IP address: VPN will hide source and destination IP address and create different IP address. This is most useful to trick the hacker and tracker.
2. Encrypt your data traffic: VPN helps to secure by encrypting the traffic whether its outgoing or incoming. This is the reason, many banks use VPN as in remote access or accessing through public internet.
3. Enhanced security: By encapsulating and encryption, the middle man even ISP’s cant track the traffic thus the security is enhanced with the use of VPN. Working in public wifi and internet like in coffee places, restaurant, road, etc is highly vulnerable so use of VPN helps to create a secure network. Even, critical infrastructure logins of Core Banking System in banks and financial institution, upon using VPN for remote access is possible with this enhanced security.
4. Online anonymity and privacy: When use the VPN service, the source and destination IP address is changed to other IP address thus exact location cannot be traced. Mostly hackers use to safe from tracking. This will help in maintaining privacy and anonymous.
5. Access geo-blocked websites: Certain countries block the contents and websites as according to national policy. In order to access the websites by being in the same country is possible with the help of VPN. We already know in details in above about accessing TikTok in banned countries.
Disadvantages of VPN:
Besides advantages, there are disadvantages too of VPN which are listed below.
1. Slows your connections: When VPN client is installed in mobile and PC’s, VPN first sent all the traffic to VPN server before going into internet. However, without VPN, search traffic would directly go to the internet. Thus using VPN, both outgoing and incoming traffic would always go through VPN server and it would obvious slows the connection/traffic.
2. Logs/Track your Activities: VPN client which we use randomly mostly tracks the logs of the traffic we generate. Some countries have put strict policies to track the VPN’s to track crimes that can be happen using VPN. So, we never know about VPN usage, VPN generally tracks and keep logs of the activities.
3. Cost: You can get VPN for free but the VPN with good VPN server having low downtime, transparency in log keeping and high bandwidth would cost more. So, for good VPN service, it would definitely cost more money.
Is VPN safe?
Well, VPN is completely not safe but still it depends upon the usage of customer. Generally, VPN that is easily available and is free, is normally not safe as VPN keeps the logs of the traffic you generate. So, make sure you use good quality VPN service for logging into critical infrastructure in-order to be safe.
So in Conclusion, VPN service uses VPN client, VPN server and a tunneling to create a Virtual Private Network. Before using VPN, we should always take care of the traffic we will generate and the purpose of using VPN.