VPN Definition and uses

Updated: Jun 19

VPN is a relatively well known term, but not always well understood. Here we explain the meaning and definition of VPN , and how a VPN subscription and download can provide internet security to private individuals and to business networks against cyber threats, especially when employees are working remotely or from home to access company servers over the internet.

Definition of VPN, or Virtual Private Network

When a computer, a mobile device, or a router without a VPN connects to the internet, it is basically connected to the entire internet, to allow the user access to browse at leisure. This can leave the device vulnerable to cyber criminals, malware and various other threats. Hackers could trace the data back to identify and reach your IP address, which can be a significant security risk. This could then expose data containing confidential information and in extreme cases hackers may compromise company servers to launch cyber-attacks.

To explain the meaning of VPN in simple terms, when VPN is downloaded and used, the device will connect directly to the VPN server and the VPN server will then connect to the internet. The user can still browse at leisure, but the connection to the server is often explained as having an encrypted and secure tunnel to the VPN server. This means that no external connection can be made to the connection between the user’s device and the VPN server to gain access to the data that is being transmitted. Because the VPN server will then complete the connection, it will shield the user from the rest of the internet and the potential treats that may be lurking. Keep in mind that your VPN is only fully effective if you use it every time that you connect to the internet and if your device was not infected by malware, prior to your connection through VPN. It is strongly recommended that you install reliable “anti-virus” software as well, like Norton 360, or Norton for small business on all your devices. This will ensure that you do not have pre-existing malware and to protect you, if you accidentally connect to the internet without using VPN, during which time your device can be infected by malware.

Another feature of VPN relates to the IP address of the device that you are using. By definition, an IP address, or Internet Protocol address is a number assigned to each device connected to the internet that uses the Internet Protocol for communication. An IP address serves two main functions. It serves as the network interface identification and the location addressing of the device. When connecting through VPN, because the VPN server is the device that is connecting to the internet, your IP address is masked by that of the VPN and your location would appear as that of the VPN server that you are using. VPN service providers like NordVPN typically have multiple servers and in multiple countries, which then afford the user the option to connect to the internet from a VPN Server in another country. Because of this feature, the legality of using VPN sometimes come into question. Before using VPN, confirm what the internet censorship laws are in the country where you intend to use it. Also be aware that some governments either regulate or outright banned the use of VPN. Those may include, but are not limited to Belarus, China, Iraq, North Korea, Oman, Russia, and the United Arab Emirates.

VPN for Business use

Modern technology enables companies in many industries to be able to have employees work away from the office and even from different countries. If employees work remotely, a company will need to have systems in place to allow employees remote access to company networks, which are inherently less secure when working from home over the internet, than working onsite. Without VPN businesses would have to open parts of their networks to allow access so that employees who are working remotely could log in. The employees would typically log in using a username and password. This was, and in some cases are still seen as sufficient security measures by some companies. Unfortunately, hackers and hacking techniques are evolving, and passwords are becoming increasingly vulnerable to hackers. Because of this, remote connections then pose a significant risk.

VPN was developed with remote users in mind, to enable them to access corporate resources and applications through a secure network, without the need to leave the company’s network open to all outside traffic, when allowing remote access. Because the VPN connection between the employee’s device and the company network is secure and encrypted, the company’s network, and the employee’s device will be protected while connected through VPN.

Although there are multiple VPN service providers out there, not all service providers are created equal. Make use of a reputable VPN service provider like NordVPN, who has built its reputation through top notch service and technology.

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