VPN (Virtual Private Network)

A virtual private network (VPN) extends a private network across a public network and enables users to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if their computing devices were directly connected to the private network. Applications running across a VPN may therefore benefit from the functionality, security, and management of the private network. Encryption is a common, although not an inherent, part of a VPN connection.

VPN technology was developed to provide access to corporate applications and resources to remote or mobile users, and to branch offices. For security, the private network connection may be established using an encrypted layered tunneling protocol, and users may be required to pass various authentication methods to gain access to the VPN. In other applications, Internet users may secure their connections with a VPN to circumvent geo-blocking and censorship or to connect to proxy servers to protect personal identity and location to stay anonymous on the Internet. Some websites, however, block access to known IP addresses used by VPNs to prevent the circumvention of their geo-restrictions, and many VPN providers have been developing strategies to get around these blockades.

A VPN is created by establishing a virtual point-to-point connection through the use of dedicated circuits or with tunneling protocols over existing networks. A VPN available from the public Internet can provide some of the benefits of a wide area network (WAN). From a user perspective, the resources available within the private network can be accessed remotely.

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