When then talk about VPNs (Virtual Protected Networks) emanates, every Ugandan couldn’t help but relate to the 2016 presidential election period when the government issued an order to the Uganda Communications Commission to block some of the social media sites like Facebook and Twitter from being access.

Everyone was talking about VPN, which VPNs to download either on their phone or computers. The download was enormous that day and Uganda was in the limelight for its VPN usage. Apart from accessing the blocked social media sites during elections, why should one use a VPN? And what is VPN anyway? In this article we will learn and look into what exactly how VPN does it work and what can it do for you.

What is a VPN?

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. Mostly it is used for anonymity and secure your web browsing activities especially if you are on public WiFi networks like MYUG. Even though most Ugandans have not been using VPNs and are currently back to their normal browsing activity, it would be better if they stick to VPN for security reasons.

A VPN is just a middleman server that encrypts and camouflages all your web activity to and from your phone or computer. The VPN connects directly to your Internet Service Provider ISP, which helps to hide your specific traffic usage. As long as you stay connected to a VPN while surfing the internet, your ISP will not have a record of which sites your visiting (though the VPN service may).

How does a VPN Work?

Before we dive into the concept of VPNs, let me tell you little how the internet works. At home, you probably got a little Mi-fi or modem/router from your ISP or telephone company. Then it is connected to your computer, to your phone over Wi-Fi, possibly to your laptop over Ethernet cable and so on. Inside your house when you talk over the phone that is part of your private network, and that does not go out unto the internet. It stays within your house, but the moment you open a web page on a browser somehow out in the internet, data flows from through the modem or MiFi down to the telephone company and then out across to the internet. It will travel across the internet till it gets to the server, the server will reply with the information you are searching that comes back from the internet to the telephone provider down through the Modem or MiFi and to your computer or phone or laptop.

It will travel across the internet till it gets to the server, the server will reply with the information you are searching that comes back from the internet to the telephone provider down through the Modem or MiFi and to your computer or phone or laptop. This process happens in a blink of an eye that most people do not realize a lot of these activities happens when we do a Google search.

Now, when all these data and processes are rushing through the internet it has to know where it is going. They need an address know as IP address same as a Postal address which you need before you write and send a letter in the old days of our fathers.

What you should know when you visit a web site, a log on that server will record your computer or phone IP address that is connected to your modem. Being connected to a VPN will help offer an additional layer of protection where the server will record the VPN’s IP address instead of your local address. All these services of VPN will help protect you and your search histories in the case of hacking or malware attacks targeting you.

All these recordings that websites do when you click them isn’t actually done to spy on you or something but because they’re trying to collect data about the number of people that clicked and read into their website, and we probably doing right about know when you’re reading this article. A VPN will help create a tunnel of connection from your phone or computer to a server somewhere else in the world. The connection will be encrypted and your telecom company or government will have no ideas about the website you are visiting. This will actually be a great hack when Fr. Lokodo implements his Anti-Porn detecting machine.

Here are some of the advantages of using VPN. You know a VPN can change your IP address, allow you access to those blocked sites or video contents, and help to unblock social media and post those comments which government does not want you to during elections.

Advantages of VPN:

1) Access to the restricted contents: By using a VPN service, you can manipulate your machine’s IP address to a specific location like US, therein you can unlock access to Netflix and Streaming Content from Outside the USA. You can enjoy streaming Spotify like Pius.

1) Use Public or Hotel Wi-Fi securely: Public Wi-Fi like MYUG offers no encryption security to its users, and your signals are broadcast for anyone savvy enough to eavesdrop, therefore you can use VPNs at Wi-Fi hotspots to prevent snoopers from collecting private information. Generally, the most effective way to keep your data from entering the wrong hands is by using a VPN service which makes all Internet use totally private and secure

3) Secure Communication Between Sites: Many businesses today have branch offices, and connect these branches to the main office over the Internet using a site-to-site VPN connection. For example, a business can enable workers with laptops on the road or at home to connect to the company network as if they were sat at a desk in the office. Employees can use file servers and printers which are not physically in the same office.

Disadvantages of Using VPNs

VPNs too have their own fair share of disadvantages and they can really be a thorn in the back if you decide to be the nerd who sticks to cyber privacy or takes this stuff any seriously.

Using a VPN, you can stand the following risks:

  • You open yourself to attacks such as IP spoofing, it will be trivial for someone else to use the very same IP and then than you,
  • Possibly your IP address may be blacklisted due to the activity of another VPN user, which may result into limited or refused access into some websites.
  • When you open a VPN connection all apps in your machine may use that VPN. If you have more than one user executing apps in the server that opens a VPN connection, you have a very important hole in security. VPN solutions are great, but they must be combined with another type of security barrier to using them.
  • If you are the fellow that is really skeptical about depleting your Internet, don’t bother using a VPN as it shall do a ‘goonya’ on your hard earned MBs