We have all heard of VPNs, but do we really know what it is? Let’s start from the meaning of the acronym.
The term VPN does not define a brand or a standard, but rather a concept and for this reason its name can be used at will by any manufacturer: in telecommunications, VPN stands for Virtual Private Network , or a private network that, while exploiting the Internet network guarantees security and anonymity . In a nutshell, it is a private telecommunications network which, using a public and shared transmission protocol, such as the Internet, allows the subjects who use it to communicate with each other in a safe and secure way, as if they were all connected to the same router.
A VPN is “virtual” because there is no effective and direct connection between the computers like the one present when it comes to LAN ( Local Area Network ); instead you could imagine a VPN as a virtual cable that joins two LANs.
We will discuss other important aspects of VPNs below. If, on the other hand, you are interested in learning more about LANs, you can read our article on ADSL and optical fiber.
HOW DO VPNS WORK?
The importance for companies of having a connection with their remote offices and their off-site employees has increased enormously over the years, as a direct consequence of mobile work and hand in hand with the speed of broadband connections. For this purpose, VPN networks are mainly used by companies and public institutions, which can establish a connection between computers located in different physical locations and simultaneously reduce construction and management costs (costs deriving for example from the use of CDN lines, so-called dedicated lines , which until recently represented the only option).
When we talk about VPN in general we are faced with a scenario with a central office from which links to remote offices are unraveled: each remote office can only have access to the central office, or share traffic even between the suburbs. To learn more about the various application scenarios, or about the technical configuration of a VPN, you can read this interesting article on shared hosting of the 1 & 1 Digital Guide.
Since Internet connections are public and therefore unsecured, they are characterized by the risk that hackers could steal and manipulate the information transmitted on the Web. A VPN network offers data encryption and sending them to a single specific computer ( or to a group of computers). This creates a private network accessible only to authorized users through authentication , unlike the Web, accessible to all.
ADVANTAGES OF VPNS
We list and summarize in this last paragraph the main advantages of VPN networks compared to dedicated ones.
- They reduce costs – because they use the Internet as a reference infrastructure, therefore there are no costs of maintaining a secure network
- They improve the quality and security of communications
- They are safe and reliable – since they use tunneling protocols (process by which the exchanged data must be encapsulated in order to be considered protected)
- They are flexible – VPNs adapt easily to changing network needs.