Ever since the day it was created, the internet has been somewhat a controversial and paradoxical phenomenon. At its core, it is supposed to be a democratic concept, enabling freedom of thought and speech as well as equality among people from different parts of the world.
However, as this world is far from ideal, the world wide web takes on some of its features. Namely, an increasing number of people across the globe are not able to use the internet freely, so human equality remains a theoretical concept, even in this virtual realm.
In addition, with more and more frauds, data breaches, and identity thefts occurring on the web each day, it is easy to see why the internet ‘guardians’ struggle to maintain regulation and security among its users.
One of the best solutions to this issue is certainly to use a virtual private network. It is estimated that a quarter of all people who regularly browse the internet use VPN services in order to participate in free and unrestricted information exchange as well as to keep their data private and secured.
But let’s answer the question you’ve been asking yourself for some time now:
How did VPN come to existence?
Read the article below to learn about the crucial moments that have defined the history of VPN to the present date.
Chapter 1 – The Creation
The U.S. Department of Defense was the one to start the research and implementation of electronic methods of communication between remote locations in 1960.
The main result of their efforts was ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network), which was a packet switching network. Moreover, they developed the Transfer Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP).
This TCP/IP system was the beginning of the world wide web as we know it today. The Internet Protocol Suite emerged in 1982 as a result of this research and it was later adopted by the commercial computer industry in 1985.
The TCP/IP operates in four layers: link, internet, transport, and application. Logically, the internet is the layer where local networks and devices connect to the universal network and where there is the most risk of external monitoring, censorship, intrusion and data interception.
As the need for network and internet security became more than obvious, John Ioannidis and his team started researching internet security technology at Columbia University and AT&T Bell Labs in 1993. Their efforts resulted in the creation of the software IP encryption protocol (swIPe), which was the first form of VPN.
In 1994, Wei Xu developed the IPsec network, an internet security protocol which authenticates and encrypts information packets shared on the internet. At the same time, the Encapsulating Security Protocol was created, marking another step toward VPN technology.
As these protocols were becoming faster and more advanced, VPN was within arm’s reach and it was only a matter of time when it was going to be invented.
Finally, in 1996, Gurdeep Singh-Pall, a Microsoft employee started developing the Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) to allow users to have a secure internet connection while working from their homes. Most experts consider this event as the beginning of the VPN.
Chapter 2 – Adoption by Corporations
Initially, VPN technology was used only by large corporations who could afford it. Companies that needed a private and secure way to communicate and share files between offices located in different parts of the world found VPNs to be extremely useful.
Virtual private networks allowed the corporations’ employees to access and share important business files remotely without worrying that unauthorized users would steal confidential data. Therefore, in the beginning, VPNs connected remote offices into a single private business networks.
Chapter 3 – Wide Usage and Popularization
As time went by, virtual private networks reached higher and higher levels of speed, security, and encryption standards.
However, it was not long before costs began to drop and private users started to realize that this type of connection could provide them with great benefits as well. As a consequence, VPNs were very soon embraced by people who used the web for private purposes.
As the internet evolved, it also brought about new challenges such as censorship, geo-blocking, data mining, hacking, ad spamming, and many other unwanted aspects. This helped VPN providers grow the market by offering their services as an effective way for people to enjoy using uncensored and secure internet.
How did VPN become so popular?
During the previous decade, the following factors led to further popularization of virtual private networks:
- Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks and the affair around Edward Snowden raised awareness in people about their own online privacy
- content geo-restriction by platforms like Netflix and Hulu
- government censorship of online content in China, Russia, and the Middle East
- cybercriminals whose goal is to mine personal data and use it to defraud people
Due to the above factors, a growing number of people around the world use VPN to unblock Facebook and other social media, as well as to protect their online privacy.
Chapter 4 – The Present
As users’ privacy and security are becoming major concerns for modern companies, they are turning to encryption to protect their users’ data. Consequently, encryption methods are still evolving and becoming more and more advanced.
In addition, VPN usage today is higher than ever. According to the latest VPN statistics, the number of VPN users is only increasing (165% from 2017 to 2018) and the global VPN market value is constantly growing ($23.60 billion estimated for 2019).
The Asia/Pacific region accounts for 30% of global VPN users, with Indonesia and India sharing the top spot among all countries in the world.
On the other hand, Europe and Australia have the fewest users, which further confirms that people use virtual private networks primarily for accessing geo-restricted content such as Netflix and social media, which can be freely accessed in first world countries.
GeoSurf firmly believes that it is the right of every person in the world to be able to use the internet without any limitations or fears of being tracked or hacked. Since this is impossible without using some kind of ‘browsing accessory’, then browsing the web through a VPN is the next best solution.
The need for Mobile VPNs
Each new day, there are more and more people who access the internet from mobile devices. As a result, the need for mobile VPNs has emerged.
Mobile VPNs are a great solution in cases when one endpoint of the virtual private network is not fixed to a single IP address. This is particularly useful when users roam across data networks from cellular carriers or between different Wi-Fi access points (hotspots).
Mobile VPNs are most commonly used by:
- law enforcement officers for public safety activities
- health industries
- in field service management
- mobile professionals and white-collar workers
A conventional VPN cannot maintain a stable connection and access to critical applications these professionals need as they travel between various subnets of a mobile network.
On the other hand, mobile VPNs allow users to roam between networks and in and out of wireless-coverage areas without losing connection or application sessions.
Instead of tying the endpoint of the tunnel to a physical IP address, this advanced technology works by assigning each network tunnel a virtual IP address that sticks with the user’s device. Network logins and application sessions are maintained by the mobile VPN software in a way that is transparent to the user.
Due to the Host Identity Protocol (HIP), which separates the role of IP address for host identification from their locator functionality in an IP network, a mobile host is able to maintain its logical connections which are established through the host identifier, associating with various IPs when switching between different access networks.
Chapter 5 – What Does the Future Hold?
Since the internet is not getting more safe or private anytime soon, the need for VPN remains fundamental to the digital age.
With connections at constant risk of hacking, websites downloading malware, personal data hunted, and the flow of information impeded, anyone who cares about their online privacy, security, and freedom will definitely want to use a virtual private network.
In addition, if we consider the fact that the VPN global market is estimated to reach $35.73 billion in 2022, it seems that the future of VPN is nothing but bright.
After all, VPN can become one of the essential factors in creating the internet as it should be – secure, democratic, and free.