How does a VPN (Virtual Private Network) work and how it provides privacy?

A virtual private network (VPN) gives you online privacy and anonymity by creating a private network from a public internet connection. VPNs mask your internet protocol (IP) address so your online actions are virtually untraceable. Most important, VPN services establish secure and encrypted connections to provide greater privacy than even a secured Wi-Fi hotspot. It extends a private network across a public network and enables users to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if their computing devices were directly connected to the private network. Applications running on a computing device, e.g., a laptop, desktop, smartphone, across a VPN may, therefore, benefit from the functionality, security, and management of the private network. Encryption is a common, though not an inherent, part of a VPN connection.

VPN systems may be classified by:

  • the tunneling protocol used to tunnel the traffic
  • the tunnel’s termination point location, e.g., on the customer edge or network-provider edge
  • the type of topology of connections, such as site-to-site or network-to-network
  • the levels of security provided
  • the OSI layer they present to the connecting network, such as Layer 2 circuits or Layer 3 network connectivity
  • the number of simultaneous connections

Security Mechanism of VPN

There are three concepts that make a VPN connection secure:
• Tunneling:
VPN creates a secure path through an untrusted network between you and your destination point. Other users of the internet can’t see or recognize this tunnel. VPN builds its security mechanism with the help of special network technologies called cryptographic tunneling protocols. The protocols provide establishing and maintaining a VPN connection, encryption of information sent through the tunnel, and message integrity.

• Encryption of traffic:
All the information transferred through the tunnel is being encrypted. An additional level of security involves encrypting not only the data but also the originating and receiving network addresses. Nobody can use your private information without your permission. Today the newer standards provide very strong encryption which is so secure that it would take thousands of computers and years to break it through.

• Authentication mechanism:
If a bad guy can get one of the keys, he can decrypt all the traffic on the VPN. So a reliable VPN connection has a strong user authentication mechanism. It means the tunnel endpoint is authenticated before secure VPN tunnels can be established. For authentication, the following can be used: passwords, digital certificates, biometrics, two-factor authentication, and other cryptographic methods.

Worried about your ISP snooping on you? Is someone on your house Wi-Fi looking for your network shoulder? Or, is XYZ A Hacker bugging your internet? A virtual private network (VPN) can help protect your privacy.
A VPN uses encryption technologies, such as IP security (IPSec), Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP)/IPSec, and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS), to create a virtual encrypted “tunnel” between your device and a VPN server. While your traffic is in this tunnel between you and a VPN server, no one can see where you’re going or what you’re doing.
Besides protecting your privacy, VPN services are also commonly used for BitTorrent and other Peer-to-Peer (P2P) traffic since many ISPs frown on file-sharing. People also use VPNs to watch streaming video services, such as Netflix and Hulu, in areas where they aren’t legally available. In recent years, the streaming services have taken steps to prevent VPNs from carrying their traffic.

Virtual Private Network is one of the most used emerging technology in the information technology field. VPN helps the organization to provide secure data communication within in-network. It uses a public telecommunication infrastructure (Internet) for providing secure access to an organization to its employees. VPN network is known to be very secure as it uses various encryption techniques while transferring the data and password authentication system for accessing the data. VPN consists of protocols, network hardware equipment, network topologies, and service providers.
Virtual Private Network provides several benefits to the organization as it helps in reducing the cost as a longer lease line is not needed, it reduces the support cost and also long-distance call charges are reduced. It also resolves the scalability problem of the network, particularly for international or remote locations. VPN enhances the security of the network, it protects the data from hackers and intruders by keeping it in an encrypted manner. It also used to unblock websites and bypass filters in the countries where censorship on the internet is applied. VPN also provides online anonymity while using the web application or websites.