A virtual private network (VPN) provides a secure, anonymous pathway between a router and a remote server, or a device – for example, a PC, smartphone, or smart TV – and a remote server.
Encrypted data is sent via a tunnelling protocol to the remote server, which is hosted by a VPN provider. At the VPN server, the data is decrypted and sent via mainstream internet traffic to its ultimate destination. Return data is routed to the remote server, where it’s encrypted and sent back to the user’s device or network. The data is then decrypted by the user’s VPN software.
A VPN provides Internet freedom and a pretty robust measure of security. And, of course, privacy. After all, that’s what it says on the tin.
VPN for privacy
Your searches are carried out from the remote server’s IP address, so your real IP address remains hidden.
Internet service providers are constantly tracking subscribers for the purpose of targeted advertising. Many people object to what they consider to be a violation of privacy rights, and VPNs are used as a means of maintaining anonymity. When you use a VPN, all your Internet connections are made from the VPN’s IP address and can’t be traced to your own IP address.
VPN for security
Public wireless hotspots are commonly available in coffee shops, hotels, universities, schools, libraries, airports, railway stations, conference centres, and many other places. Although very convenient, this completely open access leaves every user’s data vulnerable to interception. As you sign into email accounts and online banking and all the other websites that require authorisation, your passwords might as well be blowing in the wind.
When you’re using a VPN, however, your data is safely encrypted as it’s transmitted to the remote server for dispatch to its destination.
A VPN is also a valuable layer of security for companies whose staff sometimes – or often – work from home. In the light of recent changes to work patterns, brought about as a result of the pandemic, it’s little wonder that the demand for virtual private networks is growing rapidly.
VPN for freedom
Some Internet content is restricted to certain geographical areas.
One example of this is BBC iPlayer content, which is blocked to users outside of the UK. If you’re abroad, and connected to a VPN in the UK, your sign-in request to iPlayer comes from the UK-based remote server. Because the connection request is submitted from a UK IP address, you have unquestioned access to the site.
It’s possible to be connected to more than one VPN simultaneously. This is very useful for corporations with branches all over the world. If you want to imply that you’re communicating from Germany, say, you connect to your Germany-based VPN.
Setting up a VPN
Once you’ve purchased and downloaded the VPN software, you’re ready to connect to the remote server and to enjoy the privacy, security, and freedom that go hand-in-hand with the VPN system.
VPN software is available for most types of operating systems and devices, although there are some devices – certain smart TVs and printers, for example – that don’t support VPN individually. However, if the network’s router is connected to a VPN, all the devices on the network will be connected – including those of any guests who connect to your network.
PCSimple: keeping IT simple
If you’d like to talk to us about virtual private networks or any other matters of technology, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Email Clive at [email protected] or give us a call on 01263 823812.
For advice about network security, email [email protected] or phone 01263 805012.
Article produced for and on behalf of PCSimple/Fortify247 by Folio Copywriting.