What is a VPN

What is a VPN? (Simple)

A VPN is a secure connection to another computer, server, or network.  VPN’s are traditionally used by business and organizations to allow employees and staff that are offsite to access local intranet resources (like file servers, shares, etc.)

VPN’s are also widely used to provide secure networking on an otherwise insecure network.  For example, sitting at Starbucks on their open Wifi.  Utilizing a VPN will still allow you to stay connected to Starbucks Wifi, but it will provide a much greater amount of security.

VPN’s have become increasingly popular as people begin to value their security, privacy, and anonymity on the internet.  Since they provide secure, private, and anonymous networking, many people are utilizing VPN’s on their home computers, laptops, and smartphones.

What is a VPN? (Advanced)

VPN stands for “Virtual Private Network”.  A VPN supplies network connectivity over a long physical (or short) distance. In this respect, a VPN is a form of Wide Area Network (WAN).

VPNs enable file sharing, video conferencing, and similar network services.  Virtual private networks generally don’t provide any new functionality that isn’t already offered through alternative mechanisms, but a VPN implements those services more efficiently / cheaply in most cases.

A key feature of a VPN is its ability to work over both private networks as well as public networks like the Internet.  Using a method called tunneling, a VPN can use the same hardware infrastructure as existing Internet or intranet links.  VPN technologies includes various security mechanisms (such as encryption) to protect the virtual, private connections.

Specifically, a VPN supports at least three different modes of use:

* Internet remote access client connections  (i.e. connect to a remote server)
* LAN-to-LAN internetworking (i.e. connect a local LAN to a LAN which is physically in another location)
* Controlled access within an intranet (i.e. connect to a secure server already on a LAN)