What is a VPN and how does it work?

what is a VPN and how does it work

As a small business, you understand all too well the importance of Internet security. You go to great lengths to protect not only your business information but the secured data of your customers. Letting this kind of information out can lead to the loss of contracts, lawsuits, and even the closure of your business. When you access the Internet, there are often people watching what you’re doing. They know what websites you visit, and what searches you make, and they can track everything you do. Sometimes this is just Google monitoring you in order to provide better advertisements, but other times, Internet sleuths are watching and gathering this information.

You need to do what you can to protect yourself and your business. One such way you can do this is with the aid of a VPN. But what is a VPN and how does it work? Here is everything you need to know.

What is a VPN and How Does it Work

What is a VPN?

When using the Internet, your computer has a specific IP address attached to it. Think of this as a home address. It follows you everywhere. If you visit a website you’ve already been to the website can identify you with the IP address (even if you’ve cleaned off the cookies and other trace files websites leave behind on a computer). Other services can prevent you from accessing information based on your IP address. For example, if you’re attempting to watch a program that is only available in Canada, and the website identifies your computer is being located in the United States, it will block you from viewing the information.

Websites you visit gain a snapshot of your computer and browsing. They can see not only your IP address, but oftentimes your exact location, your Internet browser, operating system, and other data. All of this put together is an Internet presence that is difficult to shake.

A VPN will hide your IP address and other information associated with your browsing. When you use a VPN, your information is routed through a special server that blocks your information. Basically, it cleans your Internet presence, so instead of being able to see your IP and browsing data, everything is hidden. This makes it far more difficult to trace what you do online.

So How Does A VPN Work Exactly?

There are a number of websites you can visit that say your Internet information is blocked through the website VPN. That generally is not the case. While your computer information does go through the website server, it isn’t going to block your data as well as specific VPN client software.

You will log onto your client VPN software. This will begin encrypting your data before opening the Internet browser and accessing the WiFi. When using a website “VPN,” you still reach that website with your IP information, and so there is only so much you can do to protect it (this would be like going to rob a bank and then putting the mask on while waiting outside). By using the VPN software installed on your computer, you’ll be protected and encrypted prior to accessing the Internet.

Why Would You Want To Use A VPN?

So you might be thinking to yourself, “Why do I need a VPN? I’m not doing anything bad on the Internet, and I’m not trying to view content from other countries. What would be the point of using a VPN?” That is a good question, but there’s an even better answer.

Chances are there is information you don’t want to get out there. If you do any kind of online banking, you need to keep this protected. If your password or login credentials are exposed, anyone could access your banking information. When you apply for a loan and enter your Social Security number, you probably won’t want this information out there. You will want to protect your social media passwords, because if someone accesses your information and then posts something bad, you may never be able to come back from a post like this.

It doesn’t matter what you do online. Chances are there is information you simply don’t want to get out, and you need to protect. You can do this with a VPN. VPN works for both individuals and businesses, and as a small business owner, you likely have more to lose, as it isn’t just your personal information but your employees’ and clients’ information as well.

There Are Different VPN Protocols

Beyond answering the questions of what is a VPN and how does it work, there are a number of different VPN protocols out there — each of these protocols functions in a slightly different way. The right VPN for you will depend on what you’re looking to accomplish (our team here at Charlotte IT Solutions can help you determine this).

The different options include a Point-To-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP), which is an older system. There is a Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP), a Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP), an Internet Key Exchange, Version 2 (IKEv2), and an OpenVPN. You will want to identify the best VPN for the needs of yourself and your company (if you own a business)

Begin Setting Up Your VPN Today

Internet security is more important now than ever before. You don’t want to leave yourself or your business exposed, so it is a good idea to invest in a Virtual Private Network. Now that you have the answers to what is a VPN and how does it work, you’ll have a better understanding as to why you need to begin using one.

If you’re ready to begin setting up your VPN or if you have further questions about what VPN might be right for your business, our staff here at Charlotte IT Solutions is ready to address all of these concerns and more. All you need to do is send us an email or give us a call at your convenience. We’ll answer all your questions and help you move forward with your business IT needs.