We’ve all heard of VPN but do you even know what it stands for? VPN or virtual private networking, is a powerful tool for telecommuting, but is often mistaken for a “shield” that grants internet anonymity. In this video we’re gonna debunk some VPN myths, let you know the extent of your anonymity, and describe its actual use cases:

What is it?

A VPN is basically an encrypted tunnel. When you connect to a VPN, you establish a connection between your computer and a VPN server somewhere. This VPN server could be a commercial VPN company, the office you work at, or even based in your own home.

A VPN works like a tunnel: your computer is at one end and the VPN server is at the other, and your data is being transferred to and from those two locations. Because it’s encrypted, the tunnel itself is secure regardless of where you end up. 

 

What about VPN anonymity? 

The tunnel itself is secure and so anyone watching your network activity, like your internet service provider, effectively sees an encrypted pipe leading to some VPN provider’s server. That’s it, no details.

However, the VPN provider can still see your traffic, and knows who you are as a subscriber. So, in the case of anonymity, you’re as anonymous as your trust in your provider to not share your details. 

The other hole in this idea of VPN obscurity is the issue of dns leaking. In order to access a website, your computer needs to know where to go in its own language – it needs the website’s IP address. It gets this information from a DNS server.

If you haven’t configured your VPN properly, this IP address lookup can happen outside of your secure tunnel and your internet service provider can see which sites you are visiting! The only way to keep your information out of your provider’s hands is to make sure all traffic flows through the VPN tunnel, including DNS traffic.

I need help configuring my VPN!

 

How is VPN useful?

So we know that VPN isn’t an invisibility cloak. How is it useful?

One common use case is to bypass restrictions based on your location. Since you’re pushing traffic through this tunnel to somewhere distant– it looks like your traffic is coming from far away! So when Netflix restricts certain content because of licensing in your area, you can just tunnel to an area where that content is allowed!

Another use case is in a work environment. If you work remotely from home, and need to use assets that are only available to you when you’re on your office’s network, you can tunnel in and access! The fact that the tunnel is encrypted is also great for businesses in keeping their data secure.

Finally, you can use a VPN to help protect yourself against advertising, particularly those that track you by IP address. Since you share a VPN with hundreds of other customers, to advertisers, it’s hard to tell the difference between your traffic and theirs. 

how can I set up a vpn for my office?

This isn’t a cure-all though, as a VPN will not protect you from browser-based tracking which uses cookies to identify you rather than your IP address.

VPN is a powerful tool and is being implemented in many offices, especially during this time where normal workflow has been disrupted. JS Tech is offering FREE tech consultations for any NYC business that is having trouble with their remote connections. Keep safe, and let’s keep working New York