What does the abbreviation “VPN” mean? “Virtual Private Network is a virtual private network. If the network is becoming more or less clear – connecting two or more computers to share information – what is “private” and why is “virtual”? Let’s look at this concept in detail to see how it works. Also, what these networks are actually designed to do.
A “private” VPN is called a VPN because the data exchange within such a network is not between anyone else, but only between identified trusted computers (nodes).
What is VPN for Mac or Windows and what is it for?
This component of the VPN is the most important one. It defines the peculiarities of the organization of such a network:
- First, hosts and the information they exchange are specifically identified to indicate that specific trusted devices are communicating with each other.
- Second, the information sent over the VPN is protected from prying eyes. That is, it is encrypted with a sufficiently strong encryption.
- Third, no unauthorized participants are allowed on the private network. Sources of transmitted information are checked and controlled so that the information does not flow out of the network.
In short, it is a kind of an analogue of the local network. Only computers and other devices connected to the network can exchange information within it. But if they are physically connected to each other in the local network – for example, with a cable or via Wi-Fi – then in the case of VPN everything is slightly different.
Because the nodes in it are not physically connected with each other, but with the help of software. In reality, they can be located anywhere – at least in different parts of the world. The physical channel of connection between them is the regular Internet.
What is a VPN and what is it for? Every device connected to a VPN has a client application that identifies it and encrypts the information being transmitted. And during transmission, the information passes through the VPN server, a standalone computer that sends the data to the recipient, identifying it and securing the connection in the same way.
Thus, between the sending computer, VPN-server and the receiving computer is laid a securely encrypted channel – the so-called “tunnel”. It can be conventionally called a “virtual cable” that connects computers that are not connected to each other in reality.
What is VPN for?
Of course, VPN technology was not created to open blocked sites. Here are the scenarios for which the technology can be used:
- Protection of corporate information. For example, you have a local network in your office that is securely protected from outside intrusion. But here you go on a business trip and you need to connect to a work computer – for example, a corporate file store – to see some documents. In order to prove to the security team that you are the one who is logged on to the network, not the business secret thief, you need to set up a VPN connection to the corporate LAN on your personal computer. You can ask your system administrator or the company’s security team to do this.
- Create a network between branches. For example, your company has a head office in New York and branches in other cities. How to create a secure local network between offices? Here, too, a VPN-server and clients on the computers of employees in different cities come into play.
- Providing access to the Internet. VPN can be used to connect to the servers of your Internet provider, and through them – already go to the worrying sea of the Internet. Therefore, many routers have the ability to configure the VPN-connection – as a software client in this case, your router acts as a router.