Monday 09 June, 2014

What Is a Virtual Private Network and How Does It Protect You?

A virtual private network (VPN) is a type of wide area network (WAN). While it doesn’t offer anything that a typical WAN doesn’t have, it gives you one extra layer of security protection when you’re connected to a public network. It creates a secure network to be used over a public infrastructure like the Internet.

What all of this means is that it’s basically a private network that operates over a public network. Lots of businesses use this for their employees instead of creating their own private network. It’s more cost effective while also offering the reliability and security of a private network.

Another benefit is that a virtual private network is scalable. If you have your own private network and your company starts to grow, it’s going to need to be upgraded. This means more expense and potentially more problems. A VPN uses public lines, so there’s no need to make any changes. As your company grows, it’ll still be just as effective.

How a VPN Works

One of the main benefits of using a VPN is the added security. Aside from businesses using one for their private network, regular Internet users also use them for casual web surfing. If you use Wi-Fi on a public network and you’re worried about data theft, a VPN protects you. You can safely check your bank account, send emails, and do anything else online without worry.

There are several ways VPNs protect their users. One is through what’s called tunneling. This is where the network encrypts your data so that it’s sent through the public network in its own ‘tunnel.’ If it’s intercepted, it can’t be read by a third party.

Another security measure is the use of private key systems. Packets of data are locked and can’t be opened without a private key that only clients of the VPN have. Each packet contains only partial data that’s encrypted for further protection.

Authentication protocols and other security measures are also used. These can be based on certificates like SSL or passwords that only clients have.

A virtual private network may use a combination of private keys, public keys, tunneling, certification and encryption to ensure that your data is safe.

Getting a VPN

Anyone can get a virtual private network through a service provider. You pay a monthly fee to use the VPN and this can be quite reasonable. The only disadvantage of using a VPN compared to creating your own private network is that you have to rely on the service. You’re in effect renting it from the provider. Still, virtual private networks offer a flexible, scalable and cost-effective solution for keeping your web surfing safe, whether you’re a business or private individual.

Bob Steele

Bob Steele is an entrepreneur, software developer, marketer, and author living in the Denver metropolitan area. He’s an avid outdoorsman who loves skiing, hiking, fishing, boating, and just plain having fun. His interests include games, space, technology, physics, cooking (well eating actually), economics, business, internationalism, and team sports. With over thirty years of professional consulting experience, Bob has been exposed to many diverse business models and has gained a sensible approach to life. Bob’s company, WaveCentric is focused on commerce, marketing, and entertainment related products.

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