A virtual private network (VPN) is a technology that creates a safe and encrypted connection over a less secure network, such as the internet.
VPN technology was developed as a way to allow remote users and branch offices to securely access corporate applications and other resources. To ensure safety, data travels through secure tunnels, and VPN users must use authentication methods — including passwords, tokens or other unique identification procedures to gain access to the VPN server.
Benefits of using a VPN
The justification for using VPN access instead of a private network usually boils down to cost and feasibility: It is either not feasible to have a private network — e.g., for a traveling sales rep — or it is too costly to do so.
In addition to providing a secure way for remote users to transmit or access information, VPN services are used for other purposes, as well. VPNs can hide a user’s browsing activity, which is particularly helpful with public Wi-Fi connections. VPNs also allow users to connect to sites that may be blocked geographically.
VPN performance may be affected by a variety of factors, among them, the speed of users’ internet connections, the types of protocols an internet service provider uses and the types of encryption the VPN uses. VPN services performance can also be affected by poor quality of service and conditions that are outside IT’s control.