VPN ads are everywhere today.

These ads imply that a (their) VPN will make your life better.

" Our VPN will protect your privacy and thwart the bad guys from tracking and hacking you!"

One would need to go much deeper than a simple VPN to be completely anonymous online - although a VPN does play a role.

So, what exactly is a VPN and when would you want to use one?

At Kibosh I have setup and operated our VPN Server for our Mobile VPNs, going on six years. During my day career I have setup and operated corporate VPNs for over 20 years.  So, I have a pretty good idea about what a VPN is, and when it's needed.  The following are my opinions on the matter.

What exactly is a VPN?

  • VPN = virtual private network

A VPN is a point (ex: a PC) to another point (a VPN server) encrypted tunnel that runs 'virtually' through the Internet.

A VPN has two pieces:

  1. VPN Client - this is what you install.
  2. VPN Server - this is what the client connects to.

After you install a VPN all of your internet activity will now source from the VPN Server, not your PC / ISP. I.e., Google's server logs will show the VPN Server, and not your PC / ISP, as the source of internet activity.  This feature is how your identity and location is hidden (although there are other ways to ascertain your location from packets) by using a VPN.

If all your internet activity goes over the VPN, this makes hosting a VPN Server expensive. If 100 people are using a single VPN Server, said VPN Server must have enterprise hardware and plenty of bandwidth - neither of which are free. Bandwidth is especially expensive. This means a VPN services should cost $. If you're not paying $ then you are the product. 

A VPN will encrypt all of your Internet activity on your PC. This feature is how you prevent being hacked at public Wi-Fi's. 

VPNs are mostly used in Businesses, for many years, to enable remote employees the ability to make a secure connection from their PC (aka workstation) to the Central Office which hosts the VPN Server.  


When do I need a VPN?

@ HOme

No, you do not need a VPN for the home.

Don't listen to all the marketing hype - a VPN will give you nothing but grief (a VPN is an extra layer of complexity & software you WILL have to spend time troubleshooting) and which you will pay $ for. Plus they (the VPN Server) will have all your data. Not a good deal. 

Privacy - see above, the VPN Server has all your data.  Do you trust them over your ISP? For privacy in the home use a DNS service like Kibosh's, or OpenDNS. DNS logs are how your ISP is tracking you / us ( which is why they don't like it when you change the DNS on their equipment). 

Security - all internet routers do NAT, which is a great firewall by default. A VPN will provide no additional security to the NAT'ed router.

Speed - a VPN will hit your Internet speed. When you click on a link the website data must traverse over the VPN, to and fro, and this will impact overall speed. 

Usability - a VPN is software and as such it will need to be installed, re-installed, updated, etc, etc. 

A good security related DNS service is the most important security feature you can add to your home / business network: no malware, no porn. A good DNS service will not impact your Internet speed, if not make it faster.  DNS is how your ISP would track you - by changing your DNS provider you remove a big window into your home activity. 

CAVEAT: a VPN to the home (you want to connect TO your home...) is a scenario that makes sense for some and this would fall under remote access, not security. 

@ Mobile

Yes, mobile scenarios are where VPNs shines:

  1. Protection from being hacked at Public Wi-Fi.
  2. Provides a private connection to another network (usually your company office).
  3. Can be used to enforce a malware / family safe Internet. 

 @ Work

Yes, VPNs are very important in the corporate world. In fact, I would guess most if not all companies use them. 

Why would I want to use a VPN?

Remote worker - a VPN will give you secure and private access to services hosted at the company network. 

Public Wi-Fi's. 

Tunnel through firewalls (that are not configured to block VPNs).

Hide location (ex: watching a US only streaming service from Costa Rica).

Enjoy a clean Internet (which the VPN will provide).


What is a good VPN to use?

If you've read the above then you know that the VPN provider you choose will have access to everything you do online. 

So first and foremost - choose a VPN provider you trust. 

Second, a VPN costs money. There is no 'free' VPN. If you're not paying then you are the product. 

Second, choose a VPN provider that charges a reasonable rate (for mobile is should not be much) and promises your privacy. 

There is only one VPN that I recommend and that is Kibosh VPN because it's the only VPN I know does not track or monitor or record (the log files are routinely flushed) and the Internet is default family safe (no porn/malware). 


Will a VPN make my life easier?

A VPN will give you security while using Public Wi-Fi.

A VPN will hide your identity and / or location.

A VPN Server, if properly configured, will deliver a Family Safe Internet. 

A VPN will add one more think you'll need to manage (updates, re-installs, new versions, etc). 

A VPN will break some websites.

A VPN will impact overall internet speed.

A VPN will give another party access to all your data.