This guest post is by Veronica Clyde of VPNServices.
You may have heard the term VPN before. VPN stands for “virtual private network”.
The acronym has become more well-known over the years, but the same security concept used to be referred to as “tunneling in” in casual speech and you may have heard it described that way, as well.
Either description refers to the same thing.
What is a VPN?
In the most basic terms, a VPN is a secure connection between the computer that you’re on and a network resource located on the Internet.
A VPN service works on the concept of encryption. Without getting too technical about it, let’s take a look at what encryption is and how it works to protect your privacy online.
To encrypt information is to transmit it in a form that is unreadable to anyone without the proper credentials. Even if you don’t have a VPN service, you use encryption on the Internet all the time.
Whenever you make a purchase online, access your bank account or do anything else that involves transmitting and receiving sensitive information, encryption is used to provide a layer of security.
The most common type of encryption that you’ve probably encountered is on what is usually termed a secure server. You can determine whether or not you are on a secure server by looking at the URL bar on your browser.
If you are on a secure server, an Internet address will start with HTTPS instead of the usual HTTP.
A VPN connection uses encryption to secure the data you’re transmitting and receiving with any server. The encryption takes place on your computer and, before data is transmitted to you, that data is encrypted as well, ensuring that there aren’t any holes in the system along the way.
With a good VPN connection, you can safely transmit any type of data over the Internet and drastically reduce the chances that anybody will be able to see that information.
How it works
A VPN Service routes your Internet traffic through a secure server and then, from that secure server, it requests or receives information from the server you’re trying to communicate with.
For example, if you were accessing a webpage online using a VPN service, your computer would communicate with the VPN server, which would then communicate with the webpage you wanted to reach and the data from that webpage would first go through your VPN server before reaching your computer.
This has the additional effect of providing your computer with an IP address that doesn’t give any information as to where you are or how a hacker could get into your computer.
The most common types of protocols
VPN services work on different types of protocols. The three most common types of protocols are PPTP, L2TP and OpenVPN. Each of them has its own characteristics, advantages and disadvantages.
Where security is concerned, L2TP and OpenVPN are the only suitable choices.
PPTP has long been known to have serious security flaws in it and, in fact, has already been publicly cracked by white hat hackers to demonstrate that it is not secure enough for critical data.
A good VPN provides privacy and security
If you have employees at a business who access the local area network at the office remotely, having them use a VPN is one of the most time-tested and reliable forms of providing them with security.
VPN connections are also used to provide additional protection against hackers, ISP spying on Internet traffic and, in some nations where freedom of information is not a right, people use VPN services to get around national firewalls and other limitations imposed on the Internet by the authorities.
And what about you, have you already started using VPN? If yes, please share your experience.
Veronica Clyde is writer at VPNServices.net – a website where you can read reviews about the best VPN providers.