What is a VPN?
A virtual private network, or VPN, is a rather broad term used to describe a variety of different networking methods that allow businesses to utilize public Internet connections to create a virtual private network. Thanks to the VPN, there’s no need for the computers in the virtual network to be hard-wired or physically connected to one another to share information safely.
Benefits of Using a VPN
Just like a firewall can protect the data on your computer, a VPN can protect your company’s data on the Internet. The computers at each end of the VPN “tunnel” encrypt the data and decrypt it at the other end. There is no one standard model for a VPN, but various protocols are used in several unique ways to create a VPN that can operate between multiple branches, centers, or locations.
The main goal of using a VPN is to implement the same level of security as a private network at a much lower cost. Far too many people fail to realize the security issues that exist with public WiFi hotspots or non-secure networks, where your data can become visible to hackers.
Many internet service providers now utilize Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) to analyze your online activity, and search engines and social media websites also store information about your online habits for various reasons. Because using a VPN provides users with a different IP address, your online activity remains private.
VPN services also allow users to access websites only available to users from a certain country, which is an important benefit for travelers that must access websites from their home country while they are in an area with Internet censorship.
An encryption key tells a computer what computations to perform on data to encrypt it or decrypt it. In symmetric-key encryption, all computers or users share the same key used to encrypt and decrypt messages. In public-key encryption, each computer or user has a public-private key pair, which means that one computer uses its private key to encrypt a message while another computer uses the corresponding public key to decrypt the message.
In a VPN, though, computers encrypt data entering the tunnel and decrypt it at the other end. However, the VPN needs more than a pair of keys to apply encryption, which is where Internet protocols come in.
Point-to-Point Protocol (PPTP) is the most commonly used VPN protocol. All major operating systems and many smartphones can use it without additional software.
IP Security (IPsec) is a protocol suite developed with IPv6 which is often used in conjunction with L2TP tunneling. The biggest downfall of IPSec VPN services is that they typically require third party software, which usually means associated licensing costs.
Secure Socets Layer / Transport Layer Security (SSL/TLS) is the most common encryption protocol used on the Internet. Many SSL VPN plans use the OpenVPN client because it is a free, multi-platform client.
Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP) transports PPP or L2TP packets through an SSL 3.0 channel. Because SSTP uses the common HTTPS port 443, it’s hard to block in highly censored regions.
VPN Service Providers
In short, a VPN is cost-effective way to connect multiple computers in multiple locations. A VPN gives you the ability to keep your business connected around the globe. Protect your online privacy with a personal, private and secure VPN service provider today.