VPN stands for Virtual Private Network and is effectively an extension of a private network. Instead of just having access to a business’s network in the office, it is also possible to have access from remote locations, such as at home. This is accessed via the internet but is still a private network so others cannot gain access.
Advantages of Virtual Networks
Virtual networks have a number of advantages over “non-virtual” networks. There is no need for leased lines, which is good for practical reasons and for cost reasons. This means that despite not needing to be physically connected to the network it is possible to gain access from a computer anywhere. Wires are not needed to connect a computer directly to the network; instead the internet is used.
How a VPN Works
A VPN is a private network using a public network. A public network, such as the internet, is used to connect to a business’s private network (the VPN), which can only be accessed by those with the relevant permissions.
With a virtual private network there is a Network Access Server (NAS) where the network’s data is held. This is essentially a hub where all data is stored, and it transfers to other computers from here. A user connects to the NAS using the internet. They can then access the data held on the NAS. Different permissions can be given to different users, meaning each can access the data they need to do their job without accessing areas not relevant to them.
The VPN Client is the software that each user installs on their computer to allow them to access the VPN. Once on their computer, the VPN can be accessed using a secure username and password. They will then be able to access the data that they have been authorised to view.
Why is a VPN more Secure?
When data is transferred over a VPN it is encrypted, or scrabbled. This means that should a human be able to intercept it, they will not be able to make sense of it and it will be useless to them. The data is then decrypted into its original form once it reaches its destination.
Many businesses these days utilise VPN’s so employees can work at home, especially those who are involved in dealing with secure information. A VPN is a simpler system for allowing people to work from home, as they can access a company’s network without the need for leased lines. By using encryption, it also means data travelling over the network is secure.