What is a VPN

What is a VPN

It is a little unusual these days to hear someone asking what a VPN is, or as the Germans would ask it, wat is vpn? It seems a bit strange because there are VPN services available almost everywhere these days and it is now possible to get very comprehensive VPN service packages at great prices. Whether you need one for your smartphone or laptop, your home computer, or a business network, there are many good options out there that suit different use-case scenarios and cost profiles.

Although VPN services have permeated the tech world, there are still plenty of people out there who do not understand the role that VPNs play in our online lives. To clear up your understanding of what a VPN is and why you should be using one, here is a short summary on the topic:

The acronym, VPN, stands for “virtual private network” and its job is to create a network that is independent of the physical network a user is connected to – be it a private WiFi connection, a public one, or even an Ethernet connection in a home or office setting. To establish a virtual network, the VPN service creates a direct line of communication between the VPN servers and a user’s device, through which all the information passed along is encrypted.

What is important to note about the connection that is made with the VPN service is a primary part of what makes VPNs so valuable in today’s connected world. The information packets that are sent through the VPN are encrypted before they leave a user’s computer, only to become decrypted at the VPN side – and vice versa. In short, that means even a user’s ISP cannot see what information is being requested and what information is being sent back. A VPN, therefore, is one of the most powerful privacy tools that one can use to guard against curious onlookers – including government officials and hackers, alike.

Why Use a VPN?

To make the case about why one should use a VPN there are a few obvious points that we can, well, point to.

  • Hide your actual physical address by masking your IP.
  • Get past country-specific restrictions and bans by using a VPN which has servers in a different country.
  • Enjoy streaming media content that is only licensed in specific jurisdictions. Hulu and Pandora Radio are two examples of services that only operate within the US. To access these from any other country, one needs a fast VPN connection that originates in the US.
  • Protect against online identity thieves and hackers. As the connection between the user and the VPN server is encrypted in both directions, it is almost impossible for personally identifying information to be snagged in-route. Even it were, the information collected would be garbled gibberish due the encryption algorithms.

So, the next time you hear someone asking, wat is een VPN, you’ll be able to share a few of the basics – even if you do have to brush up on your German a little bit.

Categories: Technology

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