Here is one acronym you have probably heard many times before but don’t understand what it is or why it matters.

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. A virtual private network creates a private, encrypted tunnel for data traffic using the public internet. For example, a company may create a VPN connection for their servers, allowing an employee to connect to those servers using a public internet connection. The VPN encrypts the data traffic between the employee’s computer and the company servers. If anyone manages to intercept the traffic, say the employee is at a Starbucks and a fellow Starbucks guest is trying to hack traffic on the Starbucks network, the traffic on the VPN will be encrypted and cannot be viewed by the hacker.

Most of us are familiar with corporate VPNs, like the one in the example above. There are also VPNs that you can use to protect your personal devices. Personal VPNs are inexpensive and easy to use. Some are even free. These VPNs will encrypt data in transit and also make it appear as if you are visiting websites from the country where the VPN providers servers are located. This enables you to get past country restrictions for certain services and websites, enabling you to access the BBC while visiting a country that blocks the news service.

It is important to understand that a VPN makes your data in transit secure from prying eyes. VPNs do not filter malicious traffic to your computer, and they do not contain any kind of anti-virus or anti-malware capabilities. Do you have questions about a VPN or your network? Give us a call! Our managed IT team can help.

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