What's a VPN?

What's a VPN?

Want your own private network? Well then read on...

 

VPN is a network that is constructed by using public wires — usually the Internet — to connect to a private network, such as a company's internal network. There are a number of systems that enable you to create networks using the Internet as the medium for transporting data.

What does this actually mean? A Virtual Private Network (VPN) connects two computers securely and privately over the internet. A VPN client on one computer connects to a VPN server on another computer and by using encryption and other security measures, no-one can see what information is being exchanged. This can be used for name reasons, may of which are essential to nerds, travellers, workers and more. Your workplace will have a VPN, as will your university and (hopefully) your school. You won't even realise [or care]. 

If you use a laptop, tablet or smartphone at a public Wi-Fi hotspot like a cafe, hotel, train station and so on, your activities could be monitored and private information collected. Online shopping and banking may not be safe because of the open nature of the network, and among the people around you could be a hacker. It's unlikely, but you never know. A VPN boosts security because eavesdroppers cannot make sense of your encrypted communications.

If you travel abroad and have tried to watch live TV or catchup TV such as BBC iPlayer you will have discovered that they don't work. That's because they check your location to make sure you're in the UK. So even though you are a BBC license payer and a UK resident, you can't watch BBC when you are away on holiday or business abroad. A VPN can make it seem like you are in another country, so you can unlock services and websites that are normally blocked. There are other alternatives for this too such as browser add ons etc...

There are free and paid versions of VPN's, depends on what you need one for really and how important one is. Some examples are;

  • JustFreeVPN
  • Hotspot Shield
  • Pure VPN
  • Strong VPN

There is quite a good article about VPN's here as well - have a look!

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