What is VPN?

You’ve probably stumbled upon the term VPN, or maybe you’ve even used one before without knowing it. VPNs are often associated with secure browsing, but if you want to know exactly what a VPN is and how it works, then jump on; this article will explain just that. VPN is an acronym for Virtual Private Network and is a program that allows you to create a secure connection to another network over the Internet. VPNs can mask your IP address, and as such, they can be used to access region-restricted websites, shield your browsing activity from prying eyes on public Wi-Fi, and more.

VPNs are pretty popular in recent times, but they aren’t used for the created reasons. VPNs were once just a way to connect business networks securely over the internet or allow you to access a business network from home. Most modern operating systems have integrated VPN support.

How Does It Help Me?

To put it as simply as possible, a VPN connects your PC, smartphone, or tablet to another computer (called a server). This server exists somewhere on the internet, and VPNs allow you to browse the internet using that computer’s internet connection. By choosing a server from a different country, you will appear on the internet as if you are coming from that country, and you can potentially access things that you couldn’t normally.

  •  A VPN is useful in several ways that are unique to each individual. Here’s a list of some common uses of VPNs:
  • A VPN can be used to effectively override geographic restrictions on websites or streaming audio and video.
  • You can use a VPN to Watch streaming media like Netflix and Hulu for other regions.
  • A VPN will protect you from snooping eyes when on an untrustworthy Wi-Fi hotspot.
  • A VPN gives you some form of anonymity online by hiding your true location.
  • VPNs hide your traffic, so your torrenting speeds are never throttled.
  • Today, most VPNs are mostly used torrenting or bypassing geographic restrictions to watch content in a different country. This doesn’t mean they are any less useful for privacy as they are still viable for protecting yourself while working with a public hotspot.

How a VPN works?

Now you have a basic idea of how VPN works, so let’s go a little in-depth. A VPN routes your device’s internet connection through your chosen VPN’s private server rather than your internet service provider (ISP). This means that when your data is transmitted to the internet, it comes from the VPN rather than your computer. The VPN is the middle ground between your device and the internet, hiding your location and IP address along the way. Even if someone manages to intercept your data on its way to the destination, the VPN already encrypts it, so you have no worries. The VPN makes a private “tunnel” pathway from your device to the internet and hides your vital data through something known as encryption.

Encryption is a word that defines how your data is “locked” when using a VPN. Encryption converts your information to something completely unreadable (basically transforming it to gibberish). Thi jumbled data can not be translated without a password, which is called a key. The Key is a set of values that can be used to decode the complicated code that your data has been turned into. The only parties with this code are your computer and the VPN server. Encryption is the process of hiding your information with a key while the opposite; making encrypted information readable again through the application of the key, is known as decryption.

How does the VPN data encryption process work?

You connect to the VPN through a secure tunnel where your data is encoded. Your data has been rendered into an unreadable code as it travels between your computer and the server of the VPN. The sites you visit now see your device as being on the same local network as your VPN. Making your IP address the same as the IP address of one of your VPN Provider’s servers. Ince this is done, you are free to surf the internet as you please, safe in the knowledge that the VPN acts as a barrier, protecting your personal information. There are different levels of encryption, and they depend on the protocols of your VPN provider’s encryption mechanism.

Types of VPN

What the VPN does for you will vary depending on what kind of VPN you chose. Most VPNs work directly with the settings of an operating system – such as Windows, Mac OS, iOS, or Android – so that every app that connects to the internet – such as browsers, banking, or social media apps – is protected.

Standalone VPN Services

This is easily the most common VPN used by homes and small businesses. Standalone VPNs use an installed application to create an encrypted connection to the private network that you can then utilize to connect to the internet at large.

Browser Extensions

These are similar to standalone VPNs as they are software ad ones that are integrated into browsers like Google Chrome or Firefox, while Opera comes with a built-in VPN. Take note that this means that your data is only protected when you’re specifically using that browser. 

Router VPN

A VPN can also exist through a VPN-enabled router. This is a viable option if you have several devices you want to protect. It will protect every device connected to the router, saving you from installing the VPN individually. This also means that you’ll only need to sign in once; afterward, I’m your router will always be connected to your VPN.

Corporate VPN

These are reserved for large organizations. Corporate VPNs give a remote-access VPN for employees who work remotely. The VPN allows employees to securely access the company’s private intranet, often using a password and an app. Corporate VPNs are always custom-created to fit each organization and require personalized development and heavy IT resources.

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