VPN Basics: In a world where the Internet is widely used by people of all ages, from young ones to adults, cybersecurity has never been more crucial than before. The reality with modern times is that we give our younger generation freedom to access the Internet. As they grow, they learn how to use it, and alongside learning should include obtaining the knowledge and the right information on how to secure their personal data.
Adapting technology shouldn’t always be an open hand. What goes along in accepting it is knowing how to protect vital data that can be used against you or to harm you. The technology works both ways since it is both beneficial when used correctly and dangerous if used the other way around. Thus, securing your personal data should always be the top priority when accessing and using the Internet.
But the question is, why is it so important, and what can you do to keep yourself safe on the Internet? Moreover, what is the major role of using VPN in practicing data security?
Let’s all dive into those topics and discuss their importance.
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You already heard the terms “hacking,” “phishing,” and “spoofing.” Well, if you haven’t, they are popular for all the wrong reasons.
Hacking, for one, is popular in its own right since hacking is a data security breach that’s commonly done even by a mere individual. In order to get a perfect picture of hacking, a great example is getting your Facebook account used or logged in by another person you don’t know. That’s hacking.
Another example is your personal Instagram account posting “nudes” and other “malicious content” without your knowledge or your Twitter account tweeting non-sensible topics you don’t agree with. As long as someone’s using your account without your consent nor knowledge, it’s considered hacking.
But that’s simple hacking. Hacking can even expound to a much worse case, such as stealing billions worth of data or even money. A perfect example of this case is the hacking heist of Albert Gonzalez. He was the man responsible for the biggest fraud case in the US during 2009. He hacked into all types of credit card payment networks, including the 7-11 machines.
What about phishing and spoofing? The two, although a bit similar, are actually quite different compared to hacking.
Phishing is a method of deception through enticing emails sent by the perpetrators to their targets. Professionals are often targeted with this method of a malicious data breach. Emails that look urgent and important are often masquerades with an entirely different intention.
Cyber attackers do this method by urging their targets to click a link or download a file. By clicking the link or downloading a file, the attackers can have access to any of your personal information and data.
The perfect example of a successful phishing attack is at the University of Kansas in 2016. Five employees responded to a malicious email (note: they don’t know about it nor have any ideas that it’s malicious as the email was sent by the school). Three of the five employees that responded to the email lost their paycheck.
On the other hand, spoofing comes in very close to phishing, but it’s done in a very light matter that you won’t even know about. Spoofing is another deceptive method, especially at an enterprise level.
Let’s say you’re a payroll officer, and your co-worker asks you something about his paycheck. He sent you a request email asking you to send him over his last payslip as he needs it as a requirement or for other important reasons.
As a positive response, you’ll gladly send him his payslip but little did you know that a cyber attacker spoofed your co-worker’s email address.
This time it was too late. The cyber attackers already had your co-worker’s personal information, which can be used for other intentions such as identity theft.
All these three are just one of the top reasons why data security is important. You see, anyone can hack, phish, and spoof, especially if they find interest in these things. And if you’re one of the few people who can’t care less about protecting your data, it might be too late for you to fix the devastating damages if you fall into their hands.
However, don’t fret. In dealing with technology, we have the means to adapt and live with it while protecting our data. If technology can be used as guns and weapons to destroy or disrupt a person’s life, it also provides a means to fight it. And that’s where VPN comes in.
The next question you should ask yourself is how you should deal with these things and what you can do to protect your data from getting accessed illegally or stolen by many cyber attackers.
One thing you should entirely be familiar with is the anti-virus software. Well, technically, on some occasions, cyber attackers get their way into illegally obtaining personal information through installing or injecting a virus into your computer.
But that’s entirely a different story as many users today are already entirely aware of email viruses. Since its inception, many have already been aware of what a virus looks like and what kind of emails contain them.
So let’s jump into a more concrete form of data security, and that is the VPN, which stands for Virtual Private Network. According to CISCO, a popular networking hardware company, VPN is an encrypted connection built over the Internet from your device (laptop or mobile phone) to a certain network.
In layman’s terms, VPN conceals, masks, or disguises your real IP address to ensure that no one on the Internet will know of your real IP address. This way, all your transactions, such as online shopping payment, banking, and other Internet searches, are safely transacted and transmitted.
With the help of a VPN, malicious cyber attackers on the lookout can’t eavesdrop on the traffic. Any person conducting a sensitive transaction over a local WI-FI connection with their VPN is safe since their traffic is being routed to an entirely secured, privately encrypted connection to an external server.
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But how do these things work with VPN? What process does it use to secure any person’s data?
The thing with VPN is its technicality on the Internet. The VPN acts as the middleman between you, the user, and the Internet. So if you’re thinking about how a VPN works, think of it as a “safe tunnel” that your internet connection goes through before reaching the Internet.
Every time you perform a Google search or check out that order in your cart, your IP address will be masked with the help of your VPN. In short, your internet connection passes through that “safe tunnel,” and every activity that you’ll do is now safely encrypted. This further means that your real IP address will not be sent to the Internet but instead the fake IP address that your VPN created for you.
A prompt answer would be every time you access the Internet. But that would be too vague at some point, so to be precise, the perfect time to use a VPN is whenever you’re connecting to a local network.
For example, you’re in a coffee shop responding to emails by connecting your laptop or mobile phone to the coffee shop’s local WI-FI connection. This means without a VPN, your data is being sent out into the open, where many unidentified users can access the network.
You don’t know who’s watching the current traffic in that network. Think about your personal data, credit card numbers, passwords, and just the basic vital information that is now being available and is transmitted every time you go online.
We hate to match these three vital cybersecurity defenders against each other as they are the core protectors of every Internet user. You see, VPNs cannot detect malicious software that’s gathering a user’s information, while anti-virus software cannot mask your IP address. Moreover, anti-spyware cannot remove the virus.
Hence, these three should go hand in hand, and using them would likely promote a top level of security and user protection.
While these three have their strengths, they have their weaknesses as well. However, when these three work together, their weaknesses are being nulled. Therefore, they provide optimum protection against data and cybersecurity breaches.
The Internet and the never-ending updates on technology are scary but what’s scarier is the type of people using it to take advantage of others. However, the thing with technology and the Internet is that it’s given to all of us. We have the freedom to choose and use it, and since we are all made aware of the setbacks, all that’s left to do is promote knowledge in data security.
Using a VPN is one of them, so use it wisely to protect your vital data and avoid unfortunate events from happening.
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