What is a VPN, how does it work and why you need it?

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What is a VPN?

Simply put, a VPN creates a virtual encrypted tunnel between you and a remote server operated by a VPN service. Think of it as a private tunneled highway to your destination from where ever you are on internet and going out from the end of that highway.

What options you have for getting a VPN service?

1) Subscribing to a VPN service provider, there are tons out there.  All you need is to choose one that could meet your objective.

2)Building a VPN service by using cloud service provider.  I would leave this out for the time being as it will be a more advanced level.

3) Building your own VPN service from your home.  You could build your own VPN service by using opensource software like openvpn. After connecting to your VPN service, all your internet traffic is routed through this tunnel, so your data is secure from prying eyes.

When your data reaches the VPN server, it exits onto the public internet. If the site you uses HTTP connection, you’re still secure. But even if it was intercepted, it’s difficult to decode the data.

Why you needed a VPN?

To understand the value of a VPN, it helps to think of some specific scenarios in which a VPN might be used. Consider the public WiFi network, perhaps at a coffee shop or airport. Normally, you might connect without a second thought. But do you know who might be watching the traffic on that network? Can you even be sure the WiFi network is legit, or might it operated by a thief who’s after your personal data? Think about the passwords, banking data, credit card numbers, and just plain private information that you transmit every time you go online. Never use a public WiFi network and perform internet banking. I’m just being paranoid sometimes.

If you connect to that same public WiFi network using a VPN you can rest assured that no one on that network will be able to intercept your data—not other users snooping around for would-be victims, nor even the operators of the network itself.  This last point is particularly important, and everyone should keep in mind that it’s very difficult to tell whether or not a WiFi network is what it appears to be. Just because it’s called Starbucks_WiFi doesn’t mean it’s really owned by a well-known coffee purveyor.

Another example showing the value of VPNs is using these services to access blocked websites.  With a VPN, those people can have their web traffic securely tunneled to a different country with more progressive policies, and access sites that would otherwise be blocked. And again, because VPNs encrypt your traffic, it helps protect the identity of people who connect to the open internet in this way.

Another usage of a private VPN service is for accessing your home network as though you are at home.  Even when you are across the other side of the world. Traditionally, I used to perform port forwarding within a SSH session. However, it is very tedious to perform port forwarding for every single service. With VPN connection to your home, you will be able to access every single service withing your home network as though you are at home.

Please do let me know in the comment below if you would like me to write a more detailed article.

2 Replies to “What is a VPN, how does it work and why you need it?”

    1. Hi Ariel, I’m glad that you enjoyed reading some of the material that I’ve written. I really appreciate that you spend your precious time reading my blog. I hope by sharing some of my experience will help others in pursuing something that is good.

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