The Pros and Cons of VPNs

10 min read by Bogdi

published un an în urmă, updated 5 luni în urmă

The internet is used by virtually everyone and is also one of the most dangerous technological advances to date. While useful and somewhat necessary, the internet can open doors to attacks from hackers.  They can try to take everything from your personal identification information as well as bank information.  Because of this, it is important to protect yourself and your family from online predators.

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) can help protect you and your family from most potential online threats, but they may not be the fail-safe you are searching for when it comes to protecting your online activities.  VPN's do offer protection. However, there are both positive and negative aspects that you need to be aware of before solely relying on a VPN to protect you.

In this article, you will learn about Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), the pros and cons of each, as well as some features that you may find helpful.

Pros and Cons of VPN’s

When you choose to use a VPN to protect your personal information on the internet, it is likely because you have researched and understood the benefits of having such a network.  While the thought of ultimate protection of all your personal information is intriguing, it is important to know that VPNs are not perfect.  Let us explore the pros and cons when it comes to using a VPN.

Pros of Using a VPN

Using a VPN can offer a safe and secure experience to individuals accessing or transferring personal data over Wi-Fi.  It can provide peace of mind to the company that oversees such sensitive data as well.  There are many positives in using a VPN, such as safety, anonymity, security, affordability, and the difficulty presented to hackers.

Safety is one of the main reasons individuals choose to use a VPN.  The main feature of a VPN is that it allows you to use the internet without succumbing to an attack by a hacker that may be out to steal your private information.  Essentially, a VPN places a wall of protection around any of your data that hackers covet.

Anonymity is another reason individuals use VPNs when they are connecting to the internet. When you connect to the internet without using a VPN, you have a special ID that is transmitted to the location you are searching. This special ID is called your IP address.  With this address, Hackers can quickly pinpoint the location of you and your device.

Using a VPN when using the internet, the only address that is detected is the VPN address. Because this is an added layer of security, someone can't track down the person's location or device being used. (Source: Varonis)

Security is one of the top reasons a company or individual would enlist the help of a VPN.  Both large and small companies alike depend on the internet to make their businesses run.  In day-to-day operations, there is a tremendous amount of personal data and information shared among the network that needs to be kept secure.

VPNs offer an encrypted connection for you to share information.  Because it is encrypted, both the data and user are protected from potential hackers.  Not only can personal information not be discovered, but locations are also kept secure. This may be important if you are working internationally. (Source: PC Mag)

Save Money and Avoid Hacking

When choosing to use a VPN to protect your sensitive information the cost to this protection needs to be considered.  While protection is great, it may not be feasible if the price is out of your range. Hackers will often avoid networks protected with a VPN because it isn’t worth their time to hack into the system.

Affordability is a key factor when it comes to putting a VPN in place.  It is extremely challenging to offer protection to all your network users and third parties counting on you to keep their data safe and secure.  Because of this, the affordability of a VPN is appealing, especially when you consider all the layers of protection that are being offered.

It is extremely important that you not confuse affordable with cheap.  If you choose to use a "cheap" VPN host, you may run into issues with connection and performance.  When looking at affordability, a low-level payment may protect you but may not provide you with a smooth network connection.  While a VPN is an affordable safety option, you need to research to find the best for your specific needs.

VPNs are virtually hackproof. Because of the strong encryption put in place by VPN providers, it would take an extremely long time for anyone to hack into a VPN network.  This is not to say hackers cannot do it, but it would likely not be beneficial to a hacker unless there was some extremely high value attached to the attack. (Source: VPN Mentor)

Cons of Using a VPN

VPNs can provide a significant number of positive aspects to any company that chooses to use them; however, they are not a failsafe security method. You need to be aware of several cons, such as slow connection, not reliable, difficult to set up, expensive, and easily disabled.

Slow connection speeds are the number one complaint when it comes to VPNs.  While security is the most important part of using a VPN, it can cause your network to run very slowly.  This is where you may truly notice a cheap VPN host being negative.

A VPN will encrypt all information you are sending across the internet.  This is not just something that happens; it adds extra steps to the process of connecting.  Instead of your connection going right to the site you are looking at, it must first go through the encryption process before it can be sent to you. This transfer of data can cause your connection to slow down. (Source: Nord VPN)

Reliability is sometimes questionable when it comes to using a VPN. You must remember you are using an outside provider to keep your network secure.  Some providers are more reliable than others. When using a VPN, there is always the risk of the VPN failing. This means the information being transferred is no longer being encrypted.  This is a doorway for hackers to take a tremendous amount of personal information.

Most established VPN providers have several backup systems in place that will not allow you to skip a beat. However, some providers do not.  Therefore, if a failure in the VPN occurs, your personal information is easily accessible. (Source: Tech Republic)

It’s Not Always Simple to Use a VPN

If you are choosing to use a VPN for one personal device that is not connected to a large network, set-up is quite straightforward and hidden costs are basically non-existent. However, if you are setting up a large network you can face several challenges and hidden expenses along the way.

Set-up can be difficult when using a VPN, and it may not be a simple task.  It can be such a challenging task for business owners and companies to have a separate employee responsible for setting up the VPN.

VPNs are not universally accepted to all devices you may wish to put on the network.  Because of this, it may require updates and different ways to configure the safety of your equipment.  It can also be challenging to protect a VPN network from remote workers.  While the remote worker's connection is protected, it may still be possible for hackers to access information on their device because of the remote connection.

Expenses related to VPNs can begin to pile up as you start the process.  When purchasing a VPN, you must pay a fee for each device that will be connected.  It is also important to remember that not all devices are compatible with VPN, so you may need to update your equipment to ensure it can maintain a secure connection.

You will also find VPN providers with several locations globally will tend to charge more for their services.  This is because they can provide faster connection speeds and likely have several protections to help avoid dropped coverage.  Although these are great features, the cost could deter you from choosing a quality VPN provider. (Source: Tech Prevue)

As you can see, there are many pros and cons when it comes to choosing to use a VPN. If you are a large corporation, it would better serve you to look toward a large-scale provider that can offer the protection and speed you need to keep your data safe.  If you are an individual that is only connecting a couple of devices to a network, you may wish to look toward a more local provider for your needs.

How Does a VPN Work?

A VPN is used to help an individual trying to access the internet to do so while keeping all private information private.  When connecting to the internet, you are at the mercy of hackers and other individuals that may try to gain access to your personal information.  You have likely seen reports of data breaches and hacks.  The job of a VPN is to protect you from this. (Source: Name Cheap)

Should I Always Use a VPN?

Protecting your identity and private information is extremely important, so it may leave you wondering if you need to always access the internet with your VPN activated.  There are times that you can safely deactivate your VPN. However, there are many times that you could safely surf the web without the use of a VPN.

Always use a VPN when working with accounts of any type, transferring money, or using an internet connection that is not private.  For example, if you are hanging out at Starbucks looking through your credit card statement, you want to have the layer of security provided by a VPN.  A good rule of thumb is always to have a VPN when using any form of public Wi-Fi shared by others.  These connections are highly susceptible to hacking.

You may not need a VPN when you are in your home connected to a secure connection.  Typically, in-home internet Wi-Fi routers provide their layer of security, so a VPN is not likely necessary to protect your private information.

Can Parents Check the Deleted History With a VPN?

Parents want to keep their children safe online.  It is important to know what they have been looking at and the sites they tend to frequent to do this.  A VPN allows private browsing, which means a parent cannot access the browsing history on the network once it has been deleted.

While deleting the history when using a VPN will clear the data from the network, it will not clear it from the device that is being used.  So, if you want to know what your kids are looking at, you can easily access the history in their device to determine how the time online was being spent.

What is a VPN Used For?

A VPN is used to provide a safe and secure connection to the internet.  It is used to make sure hackers cannot access your private information when you are online. It is best to use a VPN when you are using public WiFi, paying bills, shopping, or anytime you are sharing personal information online.  The most hacked information is bank/credit accounts and social security numbers.

Types of VPN’s

When you are looking to use a VPN, it is important to know the different types you can choose from, depending on where you plan to utilize it. The most common types are Remote Access and Site to Site.

Remote Access

Remote-access VPNs are typically used to help remote workers safely connect to their employers’ networks.  Because the information shared is often private, Providers must use a strong VPN to ensure protection.  The VPN used is chosen by the company in this situation. Often, these connections are more temporary. (Source: Tech Radar)

Site to Site

You will find these VPN connections within large companies when several branches need to connect and share data safely.   The connection of a site-to-site VPN is permanent because the company frequently uses it.  (Source: Palo Alto Network)

There are two different types of site-to-site VPNs that you need to be aware of: intranet and extranet.

Intranet VPN Extranet VPN
Completely private and only able to be accessed with special permission from a given company. Outside individuals can be invited to join the VPN to allow for easier sharing of information.
They are commonly used for remote connections to a secure network. No special network security is needed because individuals cannot access the secure network through which a company works.

(Source: Realm Connect)

Cost of VPN

A VPN sounds like an amazing way to ensure your private information remains secure, but like anything, there is a cost that You must pay for this type of security. A solid VPN can range in price from $5.00 - $20.00 per month. (Source: Security.org)

The cost of a VPN provider will depend on many factors: the amount of coverage you are searching for, the number of devices covered, and the layers of protection you want to put into place.  There are a variety of companies that provide VPNs for both home and work.

Questions to Ask a VPN Provider

Searching for a VPN provider can be a daunting task that can become quickly overwhelming.  The best way to keep the search efficient is to ask the right questions.  The answers you receive will help guide you on your search for the best provider.

  • Are you a large provider (do you have multiple servers)?
  • Do you have a limit to the number of devices that can be connected?
  • What is the plan if the server fails?
  • How can you guarantee my information is safe?
  • Do you keep a backup of the data?

These questions will help you to gauge the appropriateness of the company for your needs.  Remember, larger providers can typically provide faster connection speeds, and they will also likely have a strong backup plan in case of failure.

Does a VPN Protect My Computer?

When you think about VPNs, you may wonder how it protects your device.  Unfortunately, a VPN does not protect your device; however, it protects the data and information you are transferring through your device.

Although you have a VPN, your device may still be susceptible to viruses and other malware attacks.  While a VPN offers protection and encryption of personal data, very few VPN providers can protect against malware attacks.  Unfortunately, malware attacks are another way hackers can get personal information, so you must be aware of this, even when using a VPN. (Source: VPN Geeks)

Should I Have Malware With a VPN?

VPNs offer great protection when it comes to data transfer, but they do not always protect your computer from virus and malware attacks.  Both things can render your device unusable, not to mention it can provide hackers access to your personal information.

Even with a VPN for protection, the best thing you can do is to purchase quality antivirus software.  This will work in conjunction with the VPN to provide you an ultimate secure connection.  Before purchasing different malware, check with the VPN provider to make sure it is not included. Typically, the higher the price tag from your VPN provider, the more protections that are included.

Final Thoughts

Virtual Private Networks are a great way to keep your company and private data secure when working remotely or with third-party clients. However, they are not failing proof, and there are many things you need to consider before choosing a provider for your needs.  Although they are not perfect, they are a much better option than leaving your data unprotected.

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