Imagine falling victim to a stalker who is hell-bent on tracking you everywhere you go. When you don’t wish to fall into a situation like this in real life, why should your online life be any different? Cyber criminals don’t always directly attack your system and steal data. Sometimes they track you and keep an eye on your activities for long-term gains. In real life, you’d install security cameras or burglar alarms to counter such problems. But in cyberspace, you will have to get effective network security tools to counter these problems.
VPNs have been popular network security tools for almost half a decade. Their advantages make them effective in households as well as in organizations. But are VPNs actually effective in hiding your tracks online? The answer may surprise you. While the tool does have its advantages, it has its fair share of disadvantages as well. Here is everything you need to know if you are considering buying a VPN.
What Is a VPN?
A VPN or virtual private network is an encrypted connection between two machines. It affords you the security to connect with the desired network. You can use it to bypass geo-restricted content, protect your data from malicious hackers by hiding your personal IP address, and encrypt online traffic.
VPNs are good for organizations that need more than network security monitoring tools. They play an important role in establishing a secure remote office environment. They make sure that your remote workforce can log on to your office network from wherever they are and access company data. In the U.S. itself, the number of remote work employees has increased from 17% to 44% after the pandemic hit. In an environment like this, conventional network security tools will not prove highly effective. As a solution, VPNs are being recommended among remote work employees.
Use of VPN in Network Security
VPNs are online services that rely on a VPN client and VPN server to offer you a secure connection. Basically, when you install a VPN on your smart device or PC, it connects to another computer (server). The connection requests are encrypted before they are sent to the server.
Your PC or smart device will then use the server’s information to traverse the internet instead of its original network information. Thus, any site tracking user data would see the VPN server’s information instead of your own device’s information, making it one of the simplest but most convenient network security monitoring tools.
However, there is a misconception that VPNs are always safe and effective. The tool comes with certain pros and cons that you should weigh before getting one for yourself.
Advantages of a VPN
There are many advantages to using a secure private network.
Access Region-Specific Content
A VPN allows you to bypass geo-locked content. Most websites use the geolocation feature to acquire the actual location of a user. This information allows them to use geo-locking features to restrict site access only to people from certain countries. However, a VPN would make it look like your connection is coming from the location where the content is available, thus allowing you to access the content of these websites.
Secure Remote Office Connections
With COVID-19 necessitating the adoption of remote work culture, organizations have been saddled with strengthening their network security measures. Valuable consumer information and other sensitive information is more at risk with employees working from home. Unregulated access to an organizations’ documents and consumer data can be destructive to a business. Nevertheless, when you connect to business-related networks through a VPN, it ensures that your sensitive information is concealed behind the bogus information offered through the VPN.
Cost-Effective Network Security
New network security monitoring tools are being released almost daily. However, the latest software can be costly for businesses and may even trigger more issues. Organizations can use VPN services to prevent steep licensing fees and other expensive monthly charges. Although VPNs may not block intruders and scan for viruses, it avoids the need for those features by making you better protected online.
Disadvantages of a VPN
A VPN is not without its disadvantages, and although the pros overshadow the cons, there’s no harm in knowing about some important facts.
Most VPNs Allow Limited Sharing
While VPNs are cost-effective for an individual or small business, it often proves costly to set up in a big workplace. Most VPNs cost between $80 to $200 for a one-year subscription. If the organization exceeds more than 30-50 staff, costs will quickly add up as most software allow sharing between 5-8 devices at most.
Data Transfers Slow Down Connection Speeds
A VPN slows down connection speeds since the connection is virtual and occurs inside a physical network. Routing web traffic from your ISP (Internet Service Provider) to your VPN and vice versa will slow down your connection.
Multiple Limitations for Gamers
If you are a gamer, you’d understand the pain of slow connection and lagging speed while playing a multiplayer mission. Using a VPN during gaming sessions can be frustrating because of the slow connections. Apart from that, many gaming platforms don’t allow VPNs, and if you are using a cheaper software, then your account may get banned permanently.
VPNs are easy to install and execute. It is a versatile network security tool. But irrespective of these advantages, you should never install a VPN without an expert who has received network security certification training and knows about using the admin tool to secure your wireless network. His/her assistance will help you understand different VPNs, the best connectivity options, and the most advantageous way to distribute them among your employees.
Having a network security officer in your team would also help you defend against a possible cyberattack and hide IT infrastructure issues.
Get Network Security Training with EC-Council
EC-Council offers beginner-level, intermediate-level, and advanced-level network security certification and training programs for professionals and those who desire to enter this field. The modules cover VPNs along with other network security tools in great detail. The program brings out the smallest aspects that may play an important role in strengthening computer network security.
EC-Council’s Certified Network Defender (CND v2) program is designed by cybersecurity experts to prepare the cybersecurity experts of the future. The program takes an elaborate approach to help an aspiring network security officer understand everything required to counter network security threats in this new era. The lab-intensive training covers different concepts through which you can prevent an attack, as well as predict and thwart one in advance.