A VPN client on a remote user's computer or mobile device connects to a VPN gateway on the organization's network. The gateway typically requires the device to authenticate its identity. Then, it creates a network link back to the device that allows it to reach internal network resources -- e.g., file servers, printers and intranets -- as though the gateway is on the network locally.
VPN technology was developed to allow remote users and branch offices to access corporate applications and resources. To ensure security, the private network connection is established using an encrypted layered tunneling protocol and VPN users use authentication methods, including passwords or certificates, to gain access to the VPN. In other applications, Internet users may secure their transactions with a VPN, to circumvent geo-restrictions and censorship, or to connect to proxy servers to protect personal identity and location to stay anonymous on the Internet. However, some Internet sites block access to known VPN technology to prevent the circumvention of their geo-restrictions, and many VPN providers have been developing strategies to get around these roadblocks.
Instead of logically tying the endpoint of the network tunnel to the physical IP address, each tunnel is bound to a permanently associated IP address at the device. The mobile VPN software handles the necessary network-authentication and maintains the network sessions in a manner transparent to the application and to the user. The Host Identity Protocol (HIP), under study by the Internet Engineering Task Force, is designed to support mobility of hosts by separating the role of IP addresses for host identification from their locator functionality in an IP network. With HIP a mobile host maintains its logical connections established via the host identity identifier while associating with different IP addresses when roaming between access networks.
A mix of features and price make a good VPN, but plenty of bad VPNs masquerade as good ones. Look for articles written by trustworthy sources that discuss the merits of each service based on its features, versus simple rundowns and user testimonials, which are almost always polluted by a combination of fanatical users and corporate bootstrapping in attempt to get their names out to potential customers.
From a broader perspective, there are several factors that demand the use of a solid VPN while torrenting. First of all, you do not want your privacy to be compromised during torrenting. Specifics of your personal information, your IP address, your location, and even the browser you are using should stay with you only. Then, there is the question of speeds. Depending on the nature of the VPN you are using, you could feel like there is a rise or drop in the speed of downloads and uploads (learn more about this in our pros and cons to VPNs).
A company representative explained to me that bulk of the company's physical server infrastructure is located in Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London, Miami, New York, Prague, Seattle, and Singapore. This doesn't quite jibe with what Hide My Ass lists on its website. I'd like to see future versions of Hide My Ass be clearer about when you are connected to a virtual server.
At this stage, you have the VPN connection and the Tor web browser running at the same time. The main downside with such a setup is that it’s going to be much slower than your standard, VPN-only connection. Tor on its own slows down your experience noticeably, and when combined with a VPN, the results can be even more dramatic. On the plus side, it gives you super privacy, which is a huge plus.
The practical uses for a VPN service are plentiful. Want to access a website that your ISP has blocked? A VPN puts that website just one click away. Want to access the US version of Netflix from the UK? Just set your VPN to a US location and you're there. Want to access porn without your ISP or your business knowing about it? Want to download torrents without being blocked by your ISP? It's easy.
The company does maintain some logs, including information which it can share with authorities in its home country, the UK, and might share with partners in the US. The company is very clear about what information it gathers and what it does with it, but if you’re particularly worried about government authorities snooping on you, then HMA! Pro might not be the ideal VPN to pick.
As with Windows, there are two versions of the Hide My Ass app for Apple computers. One is intended for legacy support, while the other is available from the Apple App Store. The legacy edition supports the L2TP, PPTP, and IPSec IKEv1 protocols. The version in the App Store uses the newer IPSec IKEv2 protocol. I'd prefer it if Hide My Ass used OpenVPN.
When you surf the web, your internet traffic isn't necessarily secure. Someone could be lurking on the same network as you, monitoring your activities. That's especially true when you're using a public Wi-Fi network. Clever attackers can even create bogus Wi-Fi networks that impersonate legit ones, tricking you into connecting and exposing your personal information.
VPN (or virtual private network) services create a secure, encrypted connection between your computer and a VPN server at another location. That type of secure connection is a worthwhile investment for anyone who wants to wrap their data in an extra layer of privacy and security, especially when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks. But a VPN is not a magic bullet for Internet security and won’t make you anonymous online.
Max Eddy is a Software Analyst, taking a critical eye to Android apps and security services. He's also PCMag's foremost authority on weather stations and digital scrapbooking software. When not polishing his tinfoil hat or plumbing the depths of the Dark Web, he can be found working to discern the 100 Best Android Apps. Prior to PCMag, Max wrote... See Full Bio
However, the law states that fines cannot be artificially high, so damages that copyright holders can exact are capped. Early in 2018, Netherlands’ privacy watchdog, Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens (AP), gave permission to Dutch Filmworks to collect IP addresses of anyone illegally downloading content. The company can hand out fines to users and have decided on a fee of 150 Euros per film.
Modern encryption algorithms work on this principle, with the second step being very complex and worthy of doctoral- level research. What you need to look for is your data being encrypted with the AES algorithm of at least 128 bits. Many of the top VPNs out there go a step above that and offer AES-256 encryption, including ExpressVPN (review), NordVPN (review), and Buffered (review). If you’re interested, you can learn more about AES encryption.