What is a VPN?

An Introduction to VPNs

A VPN, or virtual private network, creates a secure and encrypted connection over an insecure and unencrypted source.  A virtual private network (VPN) extends a private network through the Internet.  For example, any user can remotely access a VPN regardless of their location.

VPN Encryption

A VPN creates an encrypted tunnel to keep your data safe and hides your IP address to allow anonymous browsing.  Your activity is hidden from your Internet Service Provider (ISP), government entities, or hackers.  You, the end user, download an app on your computer or mobile device to use the service.  The VPN provider has software on both ends of the tunnel – their server and your device.

When your device requests data from the internet, the server fetches unencrypted data from the world wide web.  However, before it is passed back to your device, the data packet is wrapped in a special layer of encryption.  The VPN app on your device has the correct key, and no one else, in order to access the data packet that has been encrypted.  If a malicious actor somehow intercepted that data packet before it reached your device, it would be an unintelligible string of numbers and letters without the encryption key.

What does VPN protect?

VPN encryption can help keep you secure online in the following ways:

  • Keeps your data sent and received by your device safe from 3rd parties 
  • Prevents internet service providers (ISPs), government agencies, and hackers from accessing your internet activity
  • Conceals your IP address, protecting your device
  • Hides your real geographical location, allowing access to geo-specific content
  • Establishes a secure connection on shared or public (Unsecured) Wi-Fi networks 

Drawbacks

Nothing is perfect, and no VPN can guarantee protection fully 100% of the time.  With that, there are some disadvantages to using VPNs

  • Decreased internet speed
  • Blocked VPN connections
  • High costs

Conclusion

Hopefully you have gained some insight into what VPNs are and if they are right for you.  As with anything, there are pros and cons to using a VPN, as well as the many different providers available.  There is a balance to find between security, privacy, and performance.  Every organization and individual is unique, and you should take into account what is most important to you when making decisions for your business.

If you want your business protected with a VPN, please see our services below and get in touch!


*Key information in this article is provided in large part thanks to IPXO.