What is a VPN?

A VPN (virtual private network, also known as a virtual network) is a secure way of connecting to a private LAN (local area network) at a remote location, using the Internet or any insecure public network to transport the network data packets privately, using encryption.

VPN Connectivity Overview

VPN Connectivity Overview, Wikipedia

VPN uses authentication to deny access to unauthorized users, and encryption to prevent unauthorized users from reading the private network packets. The VPN can be used to send any kind of network traffic securely, including voice, video or data.

VPNs are frequently used by remote workers or companies with remote offices to share private data and network resources. VPNs may also allow users to bypass regional internet restrictions such as firewalls, and web filtering, by “tunneling” the network connection to a different region.

Although VPNs are widely used at large corporations, VPNs can be used by small businesses too.

Technically, the VPN protocol encapsulates network data transfers using a secure cryptographic method between two or more networked devices which are not on the same private network, to keep the data private as it passes through the connecting nodes of a local or wide area network.

There are many solutions for VPNs, and many providers including both open source VPN providers and proprietary VPN providers.