What Is A VPN?


A VPN, or virtual private network, is an encrypted connection to the internet that protects and masks communications and data. This encrypted connection allows users on the network to send and receive data securely over the Internet and other public WiFi hotspots.


How Does a VPN Work?


Computers are recognized on a network through a unique identifier called an IP address. Without a VPN, a device's unique IP address is sent across the internet and any data sent or received from that IP address can be intercepted. With a VPN, special software on the device creates an encrypted connection to a VPN server in another location. The VPN server essentially "masks" the user's IP address and provides a secure link to pass data from the internet directly back to the user. When data is passed through the encrypted tunnel that is created between the user and the VPN server, it is impenetrable to hackers and other third parties.


Benefits of a VPN


The biggest benefit of VPN software is security. Businesses use VPNs to minimize the chances of a hacker compromising sensitive internal company data. Businesses are also increasingly using VPNs to provide employees with a way to securely access company files and data while working remotely. Once an employee is authenticated by the VPN, he or she can log in and get access to company documents or applications even while out of the office.


Types of Companies That Should Use a VPN


Companies that have large remote workforces can benefit from using a VPN. Even if teams work in a central office, some teams, such as network or IT teams, may need to access company data or equipment that is located at other sites for troubleshooting purposes. In these cases, a VPN can provide a secure connection that allows a network administrator to remotely access applications without physically traveling to the location with a reported issue. VPNs not only provide additional layers of security, but they can also provide connections that allow disparate work teams to collaborate more efficiently.

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