Tech 101: VPNs explained in 60 seconds

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Tech 101: VPNs explained in 60 seconds

You are in a hotel or at home and you need to get to files on your server or computer at work - here's a basic introduction to the VPN.

 

What is a VPN? 
A VPN is a Virtual Private Network. The best way to describe is by comparing it to a normal network. In a normal network, you have two or more computers connected to each other by a physical device like a router.
 
With a VPN, the computers are connected via the Internet. That's the "virtual" part - there's no physical gear that you control linking the computers but the software running between the computers that are connected make it seem that the computers are connected to each other with a physical cable.
 
In a VPN, the communications between the two computers via the Internet would be unsecured and susceptible to anyone listening in. So, in a VPN the communications between the computers in encrypted in such a away that only the computers on either end of the virtual connection can understand the communication. That's the "private" part.
 
It's a network as there are two or more computers connecting with each other.
 
What does a VPN replace?
A VPN provides a secure way for you to connect one computer to another over the Internet. In the old days, a direct connection would be achieved by using dial-up modems but the ubiquity of the Internet makes it easier to use it for the connection.
 
How much does it cost? 
VPNs don't cost a great deal to set up. Both Windows Server and OS X Server include VPN support so you can securely make a remote connection into your servers while out of the office. However, unless you're quite technically minded you'll need to engage your IT support person to set things up.
 
BIT’s advice:
No matter how large or small your business is, security is important. A VPN makes it possible to securely connect to your office network from anywhere via the Internet. If you need to access files and other data that are kept on a server or computer within your office network, a VPN is a safe way to do so.
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