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Tech Management

What is a Virtual Private Network (VPN) and Why Would I Need One?

Worldwide issues, such as the recent Heartbleed bug, bring into focus the importance of Internet security. Of course, we have all heard scare stories about the dangers of the world wide web, and in some cases, these can be dismissed as scare stories. However, some of the more rabid reporting on the issue of Internet security shouldn’t disguise the fact that there are real threats out there.

Thus, in the existing security context, many businesses have become interested in setting up their own Virtual Private Networks (VPN). Not everyone is fully versed on what a VPN actually is or involves, though, or that there are actually multiple types of VPNs, all of which have different strengths and weaknesses.

A Virtual Private Network essentially enables computers to send information via a public network as if it is connected to a private network, while at the same time enabling users to benefit from all of the usual functionality associated with public networks.

Aside from the obvious security provisions associated with VPNs, they can also be a way of masking an individual’s IP address while using the Internet. This can be useful for a variety of purposes, not all of which are necessarily related to security. For example, many websites associated with a certain country actually block elements of websites to non-native users. This issue has affected, among others, ex-patriot Britons and Americans attempting to watch TV content from outside of their homeland. Many have resorted to running the Internet behind a VPN in order to circumnavigate this problem.

As mentioned previously, there are various types of VPN available. The three most common types of VPN are Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP), OpenVPN and Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP). Most users that are serious about security today either use OpenVPN or Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol, as PPTP is often seen as a little dated compared to the other two, as it initially became operable back in 1999.

VPNs are an extremely valid and important security measure, and one that is becoming increasingly popular. If you’re concerned about the potential of hacking or may wish to keep your IP address private then setting up a VPN is certainly worth looking into. For more information about setting up a VPN connectivity for your remote workforce, contact Thrive Networks today.