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What Is A VPN? Virtual Private Network | Speak With A Geek Insights

What is a Virtual Private Network?
This week has seen press reports of yet more hacker attacks on both business and personal data.  Unfortunately, with more and more business being done over the internet, this is a problem that is likely to get worse rather than better in the future. 
However, technology cuts both ways and moves are afoot to stop hackers in their tracks through the use of Virtual Private Networks, or ‘VPNs'.

What is a Virtual Private Network?
VPN was once only accessible to large companies and corporations as a way of allowing remote users to connect to their main business network.  In recent years, VPN services have become much more widely available particularly with the increase in remote working and self-employed entrepreneurs working from home.

Why use a VPN?
VPN allows users to work across the internet securely from remote locations.  You can perform functions like printing, accessing your home network and routing web traffic safely through to your own secure network.  As long as you have internet connectivity, you can use VPN to access all of your home network functionality.

What makes a VPN a secure network?
Simply put, once your device is on the VPN network, it is connected to every other device held within that network and you can route all your web traffic through it.  A tunnel is created for all your data to pass through on its way to your home network.  This tunnel is encrypted so that all your data is protected, even if the network you are actually using is not itself encrypted.


Should a hacker try to access your information as you surfed the net using an insecure network, they would be unable to read your traffic although they could still see it; usernames, passwords and other sensitive information would all remain hidden.

How to set up a VPN
Setting up a VPN is childishly simple these days.  A Google search will quickly show you a whole plethora of providers to choose from.  Many of these are free and will route your information anonymously through any number of different servers around the world.  Quality of service varies tremendously; some VPNs appear not to work at all and some are painfully slow but there are some really quick, efficient freebie providers out there which do the job just fine.

Most of the freebie companies also offer subscription services with different levels of functionality which are priced according to what they can do.  These are useful if you run a business from your own home and confidentiality of client data is a priority.

Virtual Private Network
VPNs provide a secure line along which your encrypted data passes.
You could choose to use a host company, or download a piece of software and host the VPN yourself if you prefer.
A VPN will effectively keep your data concealed and safe when you are using a potentially insecure network away from home.
No doubt someone out there somewhere in cyberspace will figure out a way to circumvent even VPN technology for the wrong reasons, but in the meantime we can rest easy in the knowledge that our personal data is as safe from hackers as it can be.


Imagesource: Flickr Commons

 

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