What is a VPN?
A VPN or Virtual Private Network is a way of creating a secure connection between computers across a public network such as the internet.
How does a VPN work?
VPN (Virtual Private network) software is installed on a computer that is hosting the network, such as your home computer. The remote computer (for instance your laptop) also has VPN software installed, along with the details of how to connect to the VPN on your home computer.
The remote computer (your laptop) makes a secure connection to the host (your home PC) through the VPN software and over a public network such as the internet.
All your traffic within the VPN is now secure and encrypted. You are using the untrusted network's bandwidth for all communication with your home computer, and you are using your home computers broadband connection to access the internet so nothing is recorded on the internet cafe computers other than the fact you made a VPN connection.
Why use a VPN?
VPNs provide secure network access wherever you are. Connecting to an untrusted network access point such as an internet cafe wireless network can be risky, especially if you wish to send confidential email or documents or conduct private research on the internet. By using a VPN you can make a secure connection over the untrusted connection to a known secure point such as your home or work network. Then everything you do within the VPN connection is secure from prying eyes.
VPNs are popular in that they allow you to remotely connect to your home or work internet connection using a public connection, and everything that you do is securely routed through your home or work network.
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Article date: 6th March 2011