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What is Virtual Private Network?


Russia’s tightening grip on online content in recent years has led to a significant surge in Virtual Private Network (VPN) usage among citizens seeking unrestricted access to information and media platforms.


GS III- Science and Technology, Cyber Security

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is a VPN?
  2. Why do people use VPN?
  3. Why is anonymity or privacy so important for VPN providers and users?

What is a VPN ?

  • Any and all devices connected to the internet are a part of a large network of computers, servers and other devices spread across the world.
  • To identify each device connected to the internet, service providers globally assign a unique address to each such device called the internet protocol address or IP address.
  • It is this IP address that helps websites, law enforcement agencies and even companies track down individual users and their accurate location.
  • A virtual private network, when switched on, essentially creates a safe network within the larger global network of the internet and masks the IP address of the user by rerouting the data.
  • Acting as a tunnel, a VPN takes data originating from one server and masks it in a different identity before delivering it to the destination server.
  • In essence, a VPN creates several proxy identities for your data and delivers it safely without disturbing the content of the data.

Why do people use VPN?

  • Safe encryption: A VPN connection masks your internet data traffic and guards it against unauthorised access. Anyone with network access and the desire to examine it can access unencrypted data. Hackers and online criminals are unable to decode this data when using a VPN.
  • Hiding your location: VPN servers essentially serve as your online proxies. Your precise location cannot be identified since the demographic location data originates from a server located in another nation.
  • Data privacy is upheld: The majority of VPN providers don’t keep records of your online activity. On the other hand, some providers track your behaviour but do not disclose this information to outside parties. This ensures that any possible records of your user behaviour are kept secret at all times.
  • Secure data transfer: If you work from home, you might need to access crucial files on the network of your business. This type of information needs a secure connection for security reasons. A VPN connection is frequently necessary to access the network.

Why is anonymity or privacy so important for VPN providers and users?

  • The main reason why privacy or anonymity is important for both VPN service providers and users is that it helps to avoid being tracked, mostly by websites and cybercriminals.
  • Since VPN masks the location of a device from everyone, it also prevents government and law enforcement agencies from accurately identifying the location.
  • VPN has also been of vital importance in countries that try to suppress dissent.
  • By using VPNs, dissidents are able to spoof their location and stay safe.

-Source: Indian Express

May 2024