VPN – The Virtual Private Network
VPN – The Facts
VPN is short for Virtual Private Network and, as the name suggests, is a private network that uses a public one – the internet – with a few extra privacy and encryption features to securely connect remote sites and users. This gives the VPN a lot of potential applications.
Connect to your company’s network from far far away
Nowadays a lot of employees need and want to be more flexible when it comes to where they work from. In order to ensure that they have access to the resources, files, and other material they need when not being in the office, most companies maintain VPNs. This allows employees to log into the company’s network from everywhere, securely. This was, by the way, one of the main original reasons for VPNs – and also helps to explain why most of the services you can subscribe to online are referred to as “consumer” VPNs.
Secure your internet connection
Since most VPNs are set up with privacy and security in mind, they will make sure that your online communications stay secure and encrypted and keep them away from prying eyes. You are not a “privacy nut” and have nothing to hide? That may be true, but would you really want to go for a walk naked? That’s what you are virtually doing if you connect your devices to a WiFi hotspot without the proper protection. Even hackers know that and love to lurk on public networks in your favorite coffee shops (or other public places) to get at your data via a man-in-the-middle attack. You’d be surprised how many online crimes are committed that way – but that’s a whole other topic.
Internet without borders
If you are like me and love to travel you most likely know the following scenario: You are in a hotel room and want to watch the latest TV show in your own language – but the page you are normally going to for streaming re-runs or the local news warmly welcomes you with a “Not accessible via this country” sign. They are geo-locked. A VPN can help with that – at least if it has the country’s IP address so that the user is recognized as being a “local”.
Even more uses
A VPN can have even more uses – or you might want to use it for all of the above reasons or something in between. It doesn’t really matter: They are very versatile and you will find the best fit for you. Why not try one out right now? There are just a few thoughts you might want to keep in mind:
- While you might be secure from prying eyes on the net when using a VPN the service that provides you with the VPN access has the ability to see and log what you are doing online. If you do not trust them, make sure to know what kind of policies you are agreeing to when signing up.
- While a VPN definitely provides an additional layer of security, it is not invulnerable. Always use your head and common sense.
- If you want all of your devices (PCs, Smartphones, tablets, etc.) to use a VPN, make sure that the services you choose don’t limit their offer to just one device or operating system – like our Avira Phantom VPN, which is available for all of your devices.