What is a VPN?

VPN: A Brief Overview

Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a widely used technology for enhancing the user's internet accessibility and security. The history of VPN dates back to the year 1996 when an employee of Microsoft formulated the P2P protocol which was succeeded by the modern virtual private network (VPN).

VPN is significantly different from a traditional private network. A VPN uses an internet service provider (ISP) as the mediator between the user and the public internet system unlike a private network uses a system of leased lines. Basically, a VPN is a private network connection created virtually over the internet.

Now, the question arises, is the use of VPN legal? Usage of virtual private networks is not considered to be a violation of law in most of the countries and big companies are already relying on VPNs to conduct efficient business with confidentiality. There are some countries like Saudi Arabia, France and China which do not allow the use of VPN technology for security reasons.

What Is a VPN?

1. VPN Meaning & Types of VPN

What is VPN Stand For?

A virtual private network (VPN) is a technology that is used to create a secure "tunnel" over the internet. The "tunnel" refers to a highly encrypted and private network that ensures anonymity of the user while working on a relatively unsafe public network.

VPNs are supported on a wide range of devices and operating platforms which include computers, desktops, mobiles, tablets, WiFi routers, etc. running on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS and many more.

The users are connected through a P2P (point-to-point) system in a VPN which enables them to obtain a different IP address. This helps them to transmit data at faster speeds without having their original identities revealed.

The connections are made secure through VPN protocols which help the user data to be encrypted. The level of encryption depends to the type of VPN protocol used to secure the VPN network.

Most VPN providers have a global network distribution to enable the users to access these networks from their place of work or residence. This helps them to access websites that are restricted due to geographic location or government actions.

VPNs are of three basic types namely: WAN (Wide Area Network) is often used for connecting branch offices of a company, Access VPN is used for users who are travelling and need access to location-restricted websites. Finally, the Extranet VPN is used for customer-supplier networks.

2. Types of VPN Protocols

What is VPN Protocols?

The users often use the VPN networks to secure their sensitive data from being misused on a public internet network. Businesses can connect securely to their different branch locations easily with VPNs. The level of security/encryption provided depends on the type of VPN protocol associated with the connection.

Here are the basic types of VPN protocols which are commonly used:

a) IPsec (IP Security):

What is IPSec VPN?

This protocol refers to the Internet Protocol Security and is the mostly commonly used encryption method in a VPN. It helps to establish a secure connection between two networks or an individual device with these networks. This protocol is used as a layer of security for other types of encryption protocols too.

b) P2P Protocol:

What is VPN P2P?

This refers to the Point-to-Point protocol which uses the "tunneling" technique to establish an encrypted connection between a remote client server and a private server. This helps the users to share and transmit data securely to a dedicated private server.

c) L2TP:

What is VPN L2TP?

It is another type of VPN encryption which refers to the Layering to Tunneling Protocol. It is a combined encryption of Cisco's L2F and Microsoft's PPTP algorithms used to establish a secure connection between two websites.

d) SSL:

What is SSL VPN?

Secure Sockets Layer refer to the VPN protocol which uses digital certificates in order to authenticate servers for their safe and security. The coded information is stored as a security certificate to define the website as "safe" and "secure".

3. Basic Components of a VPN

i) IP-Address

The internet protocol address acts as the identification component of a VPN network. The IP Address refers to a 32 bit number which identifies the sender and receiver of data on the network. It is a 32 bit system, hence is popularly referred to as IPv4 (version 4).

The newer version is IPv6 which offers a greater number of addresses than the IPv4 and is expected to be supported by the VPN providers soon.

The role of VPN is to provide a different IP address to the users in order to avoid unwanted tracking from the internet traffic which include government agencies. The changing IP addresses allows the users to hide their actual location, making it possible to access geographically restricted websites while on a VPN server.

ii) IP-Packet

The IP-Packet is simply the load on the VPN server. It is the specified set of data transmitted over the server by the user while uploading, downloading or streaming data over the network. Technically, the IP-Packet is defined as a "payload" on the VPN server.

The IP-Packet consists of a set of communication rules which include the "address headers" and other identification indicators. There are specific limits to the amount of data transmitted by the user depending on the packet length used.

The packet length limits for a standard IPv4 protocol is by default: 20 bytes minimum and 65,535 bytes maximum. So for IPv4, the maximum transmission limit is 65,535 bytes on that particular IP address.

Security Mechanisms

Virtual private networks offer a wide range of security and privacy options to the users with the help of various encryption techniques. Most of the VPN servers have a 256-bit encryption for the user's safety and privacy. This may vary from the different IP protocols associated with the server.

What is VPN encryption?

Encryption refers to the coding of the simple text or characters that are readable into a unique ciphertext. This code can only be read by the authorized user computer. This helps to protect the user data from being exposed to the internet traffic, thus preventing risk of data theft.

There are encryption protocols implemented with the help of different methods explained below:

Encapsulation Mode: This method of encryption is associated with the IPSec protocol described above. It helps to establish a secure connection between two networks through "tunneling". A tunnel helps to encrypt the data securely in the server's IP-address, which is "encapsulated". This method enables the users to hide their actual IP addresses to avoid tracking.

Transport Mode: This method is a shorter version of the encapsulation mode. The difference is that the IP address of the target website remains the same. Only the user data is encrypted on the VPN server.

Future Scope of VPN

With advancing technology, the risks and threats to cybersecurity will increase. Virtual private networks (VPN) are expected to be in high demand in the near future.

Businesses would be greatly benefited from an evolution and upgradation of the VPN technology. It would make it much easier to transact securely over the internet.

VPN would be the best technology that would promote free flow of data and information over the internet irrespective of the user's geographic location.

The launch of the IPv6 protocol in the VPN industry would be a great boost to its performance and user satisfaction.

VPN Providers

There are lots of VPN (Virtual Private Network) service provider in the market but not all are not great with features with pricing. This is why we have prepared very in-depth Top VPN comparison to find you best VPN Service provider to choose from.


Summing up. The VPN technology is an important element when it comes to internet security. Users have been relying on VPN for their business and personal use. The article focusses on VPN as a utility to enable the readers to know about its meaning, basic types, its process and the components.

VPN is one of the best methods to obtain complete freedom and security when it comes to online activities such as streaming, gaming, torrenting, P2P, business, etc. With advancing technology in the fields of internet and software, the future of the VPN industry looks bright.

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