What is a VPN?

Published on September 2, 2021 | Last Updated September 20, 2021

What Does VPN stand for?

VPN stands for ‘Virtual Private Network’

What is a Virtual Private Network (VPN)?

A Virtual Private Network or VPN is an additional layer of security (or anonymity) between connections. When connected to a VPN, users can send & receive data across public networks as if they were directly connected by a private network. Users can securely connect (or “tunnel”) directly to a VPN using a client. Once connected data will flow thru VPN, the VPN effectively creates a layer between you and the desired connection.

VPN Connections

Understanding Internet Connections

To access the internet or other devices, a connection is required. There are many different ways to “connect” to the internet, local networks, local devices, non-local devices, servers, internet, etc. When this connection occurs and data is transferred this can happen many different ways. If the data can be transferred directedly, or it can be passed through several nodes. The data can be unencrypted, or it can be encrypted various ways and to varying levels of complexity.

For example..

..when loading a website, data travels back and forth. To load the website a connection is created and web elements are downloaded and parsed by the users computer. If the user input data and sends it back then data travels back to the webserver. Unsecured connections and unencrypted data carry a greater risk of the data being obtained and decoded by 3rd parties. Additionally, the users information, such as IP, general location, etc can be passed along too.

What does a VPN do?

Examples of when a VPN might be beneficial

  • Shop or Bank Online
  • Using Unsecure Public Wi-fi Frequently – Coffee Shops, Library, etc
  • Data Encryption – Secure Connection, Smaller Online Footprint
  • Want to Browse Privately – Minimize Tracking, Hide you IP, Encryption, can make it harder to be tracked
  • Mask Location
  • Increase Access – ISPs may try to restrict access to certain sites or services, VPN makes it harder for an ISP to have restrictions. (source NordVPN.com)

Additional Resources:

  1. What is a VPN Used For?
  2. NordVPN.com