Virtual Private Network (VPN) | What It Is And How It Works
These days, the internet seems to be a jungle where only the fittest survive. The fittest could be people equipped with the latest online security products or hackers who just devised a plan to break into those latest online security products. So it really comes down to who performs the best on a given day. Therefore it is up to us to do the best we can to safeguard ourselves against cyber security threats. And employing VPN connections could be one of those measures.
Normally, when we communicate or connect to the internet using the router or modem the internet service provider gave to us, the information from our devices go through the public network before it reaches the web server which you wish to query. And the web server responds to your query using the same public network.
During this process, your IP address – the unique address assigned to your internet connection provided by your Internet Service Provider – gets published “publicly”. That is every server through which your query passes through before it reaches the destination web server will come to know your IP address. And one of these servers could well be operated by hackers. Meaning your precious information has just fallen into the wrong hands.
VPN which stands for Virtual Private Network prevents your IP address from being “published publicly”. In other words, this technology ‘virtually’ provides a ‘private network’ within a public network and thus safeguards the communication between your computer and the server from being hacked.
To put it in even simpler terms, VPN establishes a separate tunnel within the security threat-ridden public network and thereby secures the communication between your computer and the web server by allowing your query to pass through this separate tunnel which is free from any form of hacking. This is how many organizations allow their employees to connect to their network in a secure way. To give a simple example, employees can access the highly confidential company data which resides in the company’s private servers safely using this VPN connection.
Technically speaking, VPN employs encryption technology to ensure the connection between your computer and the web server you are trying to connect to stays secure and does not get subjected to any form of hacking. To establish a VPN connection, VPN client software needs to be installed on your computer so that it can connect to the VPN server which will be responsible for providing the secure connection.
Another advantage of using VPN connection is that your IP address will be replaced by the VPN server’s IP address. That is, your IP address will not be “exposed publicly” like it happens when you connect to a public network on the internet. This secrecy ensures you don’t leave behind any trails which hackers can use to trace back to your computer.
Not only corporates but anyone who’s always on the go and uses his or her laptop at places like coffee shops or hotel lobbies which offer free public wifi(s) can make use of the privacy and security that VPN offers. There are many VPN vendors online who offer VPN services for free. Download anyone of them and surf the internet securely!
Julia Sowells635 Posts
Julia Sowells has been a technology and security professional. For a decade of experience in technology, she has worked on dozens of large-scale enterprise security projects, and even writing technical articles and has worked as a technical editor for Rural Press Magazine. She now lives and works in New York, where she maintains her own consulting firm with her role as security consultant while continuing to write for Hacker Combat in her limited spare time.