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How Virtual Private Networks Work

Updated on January 6, 2015

Your Internet Protocol (IP) address is your online identity that allows Internet Service Providers (ISPs), large web-based companies, and many Internet marketers to track your online activities. Virtual Private Network (VPN) technology can help you keep your sensitive web traffic securely masked behind multiple IP addresses located in different parts of the world. VPN allows you to make use of Internet connectivity in complete anonymity and with total security against hackers and other entities and people as well.

How Does a VPN Function?

Although the VPN is a private network, but it makes use of a public network, most popularly the Internet, to connect users or remote sites with each other. It functions by using virtual connections that are routed via the public network from the private network to a particular user or a remote site. Business achieves security by way of VPN’s operation because even if the data becomes intercepted by a third party, it cannot be useful because the data is encrypted.

How to Use a VPN?

VPN can be used in several different ways. A typical situation is when a private network is accessed by a remote user across the Internet with the help of a remote access VPN connection. Another situation may be where a corporate network is connected by a remote office with the help of an on-demand site to site or a persistent VPN connection.

VPN can be deployed in such situations to facilitate connectivity over the Internet or another public network, or over a private intranet. In some cases, the VPN connection may also be deployed over an extranet to ensure secure communication with business associates. The extranet operates as an intranet that can be shared securely with a specified business associate.

With both site to site and remote access connections, a VPN allows a business to replace leased lines with local dial-up or long distance dial-up or leased lines to an ISP.

Remote Access Connection

A VPN connection with remote access is established by a remote access user. This is typically a single computer user at a remote location who to a private network. The access to the network resources is provided by the VPN server. Information delivered over the VPN connection is originated at the VPN client. Both the VPN server and the VPN client mutually authenticate each other.

Site to Site Connection

A site to site or router to router VPN connection connects two private networks or two parts of a private network. This enables a business to have routed connections with multiple offices, or with other parties, over the Internet. When a VPN connection is routed across the Internet, it works as a dedicated Wide Area Network (WAN) link.

Internet-Based Connection

When a business makes use of an Internet-based VPN connection, it can cut down its costs of communication by avoiding long distance call charges, while making use of the global availability of the Internet.

Remote Access via the Internet

A VPN connection with remote access over the Internet facilitates a remote access user to engage a dial-up connection to an ISP rather than connecting to an outsourced or corporate network access server (NAS).

Security through Encryption

A VPN will usually require remote access to be authenticated in order to prevent unauthorized access to the private network. It will employ advanced encryption techniques to ensure that private information is not breached. VPNs use state of the art security procedures and tunneling protocols to provide total security and confidentiality on the web.


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