What is a VPN

If you use the internet you have almost certainly heard the term thrown around. It has been a popular buzzword since at least 2017. But what is a VPN and how does it work? 

VPN is not a new technology. It has been around since 1996 when Microsoft developed the peer to peer tunneling protocol (pptp). Although the technology has improved greatly since then the basic concept remains the same. 

VPN works by forming an encrypted tunnel between two locations in order to permit the secure transfer of data. This has many useful applications including allowing secure remote access to network resources. Many companies around the world use this technology to join their networks together despite being in different physical locations, even different countries. VPN is also a common method used by telecommuters to remotely connect to their workplace resources. It is a trusted security technology used by most fortune 500 companies 

This same technology can be used for securing your online activity. This can include hiding your internet traffic from your internet service provider. VPN can also add another layer of security when using public WiFi hotspots such as at a coffee shop or airport. The encrypted tunnel makes it impossible for anyone to listen in on your web browsing activity. Although many popular websites use SSL / TLS encryption a VPN still provides an essential way to tunnel the data securely.  

VPN alone will not provide total online privacy. Websites use other methods including tracking cookies and social media logins to track user activity as well as simply logging IP address. That said it is a great component to improving your privacy and security online. There are a variety of commercial VPN services that make it a breeze to add that extra layer of protection. VPN services differ greatly in the level of security they offer and also differ in how they impact the speed of your web browsing. Choosing the right service is essential.  

VPN Diagram