What Is A VPN

What is a VPN?

VPN is an acronym that stands for Virtual Private Network. A VPN allows users to use a public network, like the Internet, as if it were a private network. This allows users to enjoy increased privacy and security. The technology was popularized by businesses because the enhanced security features allowed for the safe transmission of sensitive data over long distances.

In today’s increasingly digital age, personal VPN’s are growing in popularity amongst average consumers. This is a common transitional path for many technologies as previously cost prohibitive services become available to the masses. In addition to the security features, many users value the increased privacy, ability to bypass firewalls, and access geographically restricted content on the Internet.

VPN Security Features

VPN’s create an encrypted tunnel that allows users to securely transmit information over public networks, like the Internet. Businesses, government agencies, and universities began using VPN technology years ago to allow authorized users to remotely access sensitive data. Tunneling protocols, required authorization, and encryption are main security attributes.

Most intelligent computer users wouldn’t think of using their computer without an antivirus and firewall. Personal VPN’s are increasingly becoming the next step in the evolution of personal computer security. This is a necessary evolution as software like Firesheep and recent high-profile stories of government snooping highlight.

Privacy Features

The most important privacy feature of a VPN is that the service replaces the IP assigned by an ISP with one provided by the VPN provider. Since privacy is at the cornerstone of why a VPN provider exists, these companies are far more likely to protect privacy than an Internet Service Provider.

Many VPN providers build additional measure into their systems to ensure privacy is maintained. One such measure is to not log user data. If there are no logs in the first place, there isn’t any data to handover upon request. VPN providers also tend to share the IP addresses amongst their users. This in combination with the lack of logs can make tracing a user’s digital fingerprint nearly impossible.

GeoIP Features

In addition to the privacy gained by replacing an ISP assigned IP address with a new one from the VPN provider, this allows users to appear to be local to anywhere on the globe and access geographically restricted content. Said another way, you could reside in Washington state. but through the use of a VPN, aquire an IP address associated with London that allows you to access BBC iPlayer. The list of geographically restricted content that can be accessed through VPN’s is almost limitless. Some of the most sought after applications include Netflix, Spotify, Hulu, and Pandora.

Along the same vain of being able to access geographically restricted content, users can use the service to bypass firewalls to access blocked websites. The largest of these firewalls is jokingly referred to as the Great Firewall of China. Iran and several other Middle Eastern countries are also well known for blocking access to websites and the resulting knowledge / freedom. Commonly blocked sites include Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube.

Common Protocols


Advantages of Using a VPN


Disadantages of Using a VPN


Future of Virtual Private Networks

Personal VPN usage has seen a dramatic increase in recent years. As recent revelations about the NSA indicate, the desire for increased security and privacy is likely to increase as the public is made aware of the threats posed. In the few years, I’ve watched the VPN market, I’ve seen the number of VPN providers increase substantially, while the number of websites discussing VPN news has increased even more dramatically.

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