Do you need a VPN?

Do you need a VPN?

VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) are mostly used in corporate settings to avoid spending on creating a private protected network, but lately many private consumers have been adopting these tools to secure their connections. The question is: do you really need one?

How does a VPN work?

When connecting to a public network, such as a WI-FI in a café, it is important to keep in mind that malicious actors might capture your data and exploit them. Sniffing is a practice that involves intercepting and storing data packets that your computer routinely sends and receives to and from the network, for fraudulent or monitoring purposes. 

VPNs create a virtual or logical “tunnel” through an IP network, exploiting the TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol, that regulates how packets travel between different machines) stack.

Types of VPNs:

VPNs can use full tunneling or split tunneling: with full tunneling, all packets sent from the computer go through a secure connection. This is what is typically used by businesses, but it causes packet duplication, it is more expensive, and implements a single point of control. 

Split tunneling, instead, involves sending only selected packets through the private connection, and each computer becomes a possible point of attack.

What you can do with a VPN:

VPNs have gained their widespread adoption also thanks to influencers advertising how they can be used to access content you normally would not be able to. This is necessary due to copyright issues, which prevents you from accessing content that cannot be made available in your region, and it is referred to as geo-fencing.

A VPN lets you rely upon a different server compared to the one you would normally use. This is legal, but it may be frowned upon by service providers.

VPNs used to be advertised to be used with Netflix as well, but things have changed: Netflix will likely not ban you from the site because of you using a VPN, but it might display an error.

Netflix can detect that you are using a VPN and can prevent you from accessing content you are not allowed to because of the copyright restrictions in your country. Thus, companies such as ExpressVPN and NordVPN, have been advertising their ability to circumvent this ban. The effectiveness of these services is not always proven and will likely decrease as platforms continue their struggle to restrict access to their content.

In conclusion, if you were planning to use a VPN to watch Harry Potter on Netflix France, you might want to reconsider. Of course, you should still be careful when you access public WI-FIs, and avoid accessing sensitive services such as your bank, or even just your Facebook. 

VPNs, instead, are crucial in business settings, as they allow you to access company resources that would otherwise be protected by firewalls, allowing you to work from home or anywhere in the world.

Chiara Gasparrini

3 thoughts on “Do you need a VPN?

Add yours

  1. Very nice content, but I have one addition related to commercial VPNs.

    If you are planning to use a commercial VPN to secure your data over public Wi-Fi, you may want to reconsider it.

    HTTPS has been massively adopted, and if you are planning to use a commercial VPN to surf over standard HTTP, your data remains unencrypted (in the sense that it can still be seen on the VPN server) and you have no guarantee that nobody is watching into it.

    HTTPS is very difficult to intercept and provides a good level of security, but over public Wi-Fi there can still be an attacker that is forwarding your internet traffic to one of his servers and using instead one of his certificates (instead of the one of the site you are looking at) to decrypt your HTTPS connections. Modern browsers are designed to prevent this attack, however with mobile applications it depends on which types of certificates they accept (if any kind of valid certificate or not). In the end, this kind of attack is very rare, but yes it can be prevented with a VPN.

    In addition to that, you have no guarantee that a paid VPN is not selling your data in the same way as free VPNs do.

    So, in the end my suggestion is to build your own VPN instead of using/buying a commercial one


    1. Thank you very much for your comment! Yes, all your points were very valid, and they should be considered by private consumers when choosing how to protect their online activities. Please keep following our website for more publications and remember our comment section is a forum of discussion, and we appreciate any and all inputs ☺️


      1. Thank you 😉

        I actually couldn’t join your association because I do no longer study at Bocconi, but it’s been 8 years that I have been following cybersecurity, especially Windows security.

        I will be happy to comment on your site!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: