A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a service that allows you to connect virtually to a private network other than the one you are currently using at that moment, and finds different purposes, more or less legitimate and lawful. The connection to a remote host through a VPN occurs exploiting a virtual tunnel (safe and protected) that employs the Internet connection just like it was a physical cable that connects two hosts through a switch or a router. So with a VPN you can use the network resources such as folders, files and databases from a remote host which might not be even connected online.
A VPN might also forge the device’s geolocation because, when you connect to a private virtual network, the device uses the IP address of the VPN server to go online. This means that the device seems to be connected from a different location than the real one. Using a VPN, it is therefore pretty easy to disguise your real geographic location or gaining access to forbidden contents not available in your home country, however this practice (apart from being unethical) is often illegal or at any rate violates the provider’s terms of service about multimedia contents.
How to set up a VPN
Setting up a VPN on a computer, telephone or tablet may vary depending on the operative system and the VPN provider. However, generally speaking, you can follow these steps to set up a VPN:
- Download and install the VPN software on your device;
- Login the VPN app and get connected to one of the available server;
- If needed, provide to the program any permissions requested from the operative system.
After you’ve completed these steps, the whole device will be connected online through a VPN private remote network.
Many VPNs also offer extensions for major web browsers like Google Chrome, Firefox, Opera and others. These extensions may be useful if you want to use a VPN just for surfing the web with that specific browser, but not the entire device.
If you’re using a VPN during a Campaign, strictly adhere to the instructions on the manual and reach out to a Tryber Leader in case of any doubts.
VPN and Quality Assurance Testing: pros and cons
VPNs can be useful for remotely testing the software in different ways. Let’s see some examples.
- Remote access to resources: if the software to test is in the staging environment inside of a business private network, might be necessary connecting to the same network to run the test;
- Access to resources unavailable in the place where you are: if a client’s software was accessible only from a specific country and when you need to run the test you’re in a different country, using a VPN you could manage to successfully perform the test anyway. Keep in mind that using VPNs to circumvent government blocks could constitute a crime and remember that UNGUESS Srl is not in any case responsible of your actions;
- Security and privacy: using a VPN offers greater protections and safeguards by creating a virtual tunnel really hard to attack, however be always careful with sensitive information since every operative system potentially has security flaws.
Even though as we have seen in the previous paragraph VPNs can be useful for software testing, there are also some cons.
- Performance: using a VPN can affect network and software performance during the test. The various middle steps could result in an increasing of network latency. In addition if the VPN server is overloaded, the connection speed could be affected with major slowdowns (this might generate fake performance bug);
- Automatic Geolocation: as we have seen in the introduction, a VPN can disguise the geolocation of the device. For instance, if you connect to a VPN that has a server in Italy, your device will appear to be connected online from Italy, even though in reality you’re at the opposite side of the world. This fake geolocation can result in issues with the automatic setting of the language, since the majority of applications and websites employ the device’s geolocation to determine the correct language to use. Going back to the first example, if you’re connected from the USA with a VPN that has the server in Italy, it is likely that the website will be setted in italian instead of english (this could generate a fake usability bug);
- Firewall: VPNs could be protected by a firewall to protect the network itself; so it could be possible and correct that some apps or websites don’t work properly (this could be generating a fake malfunction bug or some fake crash).
As a general rule, then, don’t use a VPN during the test, unless it is specified in the manual and/or asked by the Tryber Leader.
In addition, when you use a VPN, be very careful of any possible fake bug that this could generate. Every VPN-generated bug that does not depend on the service will be, in fact, rejected.