For many people there is a pervasive image of a VPN user, it’s something like a young person wearing a hoodie, hunched up in a coffee shop with their laptop. They’re probably trying to hack into some government computers and are on the run from the authorities. As a VPN hides your location and your internet traffic there’s a natural idea that the person is up to no good and indeed has something to hide.
The reality is actually a long way from this perception and although many hackers do indeed use VPNs routinely so do an awful lot of ordinary people. Indeed most large corporations have been using VPNs for decades to support inbound connections from remote users. For example if a salesman needs access to the product database on the company’s network it’s much simpler to allow them to connect through the internet and view the latest version. This is much more secure than travelling around with DVDs and of course ensures that he or she has the latest versions.
If you make any sort of normal connection over the internet, all your traffic is pretty much visible, i.e anyone with a mind can intercept and read it. If you’re logging and connecting to a protected share then this would include usernames and passwords. So in order to secure these connections, you would commonly install a VPN client on the laptop and ensure it’s used to encrypt the connection back to the company network. It’s completely legitimate and indeed smart business practice.
Ordinary home users will use VPNs for very similar reasons. Basically the internet is insecure and there is little provision for security built in automatically. Sure you can access secure sites through things like SSL when you need to enter a credit card or payment information. However this is the exception not the rule and most sites are not secure and the vast majority of data flies across the wires in clear text.
In addition to the general insecurity of the internet, there’s the other issue of privacy. Your browsing data is easily accessible via a variety of sources. For a start, there’s a complete list in your ISP of everything you do online and depending on where you live this can be routinely and easily accessed. Using a VPN stops this, turning your web activity into an encrypted list which is unreadable without your permission. Are they used by cyber criminals and terrorists? Sure but also by millions of people who think that what they do online shouldn’t be part of public records.
The VPN systems are becoming more and more sophisticated simply driven by demand and the risks of detection. There are all sorts of variants including allowing different configurations and ports to evade detection. You can even get them to use home based IP addresses through certain residential IP providers – such as this – http://www.theninjaproxy.org/security/residential-ip-provider/
In most countries VPNs are not illegal but just a simple business and personal security tool. However in some countries this is not the case and you can get into trouble if caught using them. Countries that actually ban the use of VPN include places like China, Iraq, Belarus and Turkey. Other countries only allow approved services which usually mean those that can be compromised if required. People still use VPNs in most of these countries indeed in Turkey almost all expats use one to watch things like British and American TV online. Fortunately it’s actually quite difficult to detect a VPN in use however that doesn’t stop it technically being illegal in those locations.
Source: Rotating and Residential Proxies