A Brief History of VPNs

1 in 4 people use a VPN in countries around the world. Their motivations vary, from a desire for privacy and security, to overcoming censorship, to improving streaming experience. But what is a VPN, and how did it come about? We’ve taken a brief look at the history of this technology to provide a picture of how VPN use has evolved over time, and where related encryption technology is headed.

A More Secure Internet is Invented

The year is 1996, and Microsoft’s Gurdeep Singh-Pall has just invented PPTP (or Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol), a method for implementing virtual private networks. Singh-Pall did so to allow users to have a secure Internet connection and work effectively and securely from home. This is a milestone event that truly set the stage for the evolution of the VPN.

The Evolution of VPN Technology

Over the years, different types of VPN technology have emerged. There are different types of VPNs (business VPNs, personal VPNS) with different protocols (L2TP/IPsec, OpenVPN, PPTP, SSTP). Some VPN software companies employ third parties to host their servers (This is not the case for VyprVPN, however – we own and operate our own servers and network). There are also different types of encryption used to protect users (hashing, symmetric, asymmetric). All in all, VPN technology is relatively diverse.

Where we are Today

Encryption is still evolving and improving as more and more tech companies turn to encryption to ensure their users’ privacy and security. The number of people using VPNs in the US has grown tremendously in recent years, but it is still lower than it should be. Only about 16% of adults in the United States use VPN technology to protect themselves online. VPN use is greater in some areas around the world, with countries like Indonesia (41%), Thailand (39%) and Turkey (36%) leading the way in percentage of population using VPNs, per the Global Web Index.

Today, VPNs are used to combat censorship, government surveillance, improve online security and much more. As cyber crime continues to increase, it is pertinent that everyone, including everyday Internet users, understand the tools available and how they can best protect their privacy.

There has been more and more controversy in the privacy space as of late as well, with Apple vs. FBI bringing encryption (a key technology used in VPNs) to the forefront of the news cycle and helping spread awareness and sparking debate. We even hosted a panel at SXSW 2016 to continue the conversation and help Internet users understand the importance of encryption.

What’s Next

There are more and more court battles occurring in regards to when using unbreakable encryption is or is not appropriate. At Golden Frog, we believe that end-to-end encryption without backdoors is ALWAYS appropriate, because it protects the privacy rights of citizens around the world and protects them from Internet vulnerabilities. More reforms to bills such as ECPA will help us move cybersecurity into the 21st century. Although it’s concerning that bills like the UK’s Investigatory Powers Bill continue to progress towards law. Governments around the world must take the initiative to catch up with the world’s rapidly changing technology and recognize the importance of unbreakable encryption.

As technology and encryption continue to evolve, it’s likely VPN technology will as well. We firmly believe that unbreakable encryption is the only way to ensure safety and security for Internet users, and VyprVPN never compromises your security, and will always keep your privacy intact.