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VPN: What the Heck is That?

what is a VPN

Your IP footprint may come back to bite you.

Sometimes getting a little work done away from the office is nice. As you find a cozy spot in the local coffee shop with your back to the wall, you pull out your laptop and cellphone and begin to connect them to the shop’s WiFi. As you type the chalkboard-scribbled password into your devices and hit enter, you get to work. Working on sensitive information in this setting should be fine because there’s no one behind you...right? Not so much. Unless you have a reliable VPN service active on your devices, your data may fall into the wrong hands.

What is a VPN?

“VPN” is an acronym for Virtual Private Network — a service that protects your data from being accessed by unauthorized third-parties on the internet. Just like you receive information from the data, connecting to it can potentially open up your devices to cybersecurity threats.

How Does a VPN Work?

If you remember the days of the home phone, you may recall sometimes picking up the phone and hearing other people speaking. While this may seem bizarre to people who grew up with their own cellular phones, this would happen due to multiple home phones all being connected to one phone number’s access to other numbers outside of the home. WiFi signals and some mobile data systems can work in a similar fashion — allowing access to third-parties. Accessing the “content” of a home phone conversation was as simple as knowing how to stealthfully pick up a receiver in another room and trying to limit noise that may give you away. In a similar way, a nefarious third-party with the right technical know-how can potentially view the activity of connected devices — either over a WiFi signal or even over a mobile device’s data signal. Continuing with the home phone analogy, a VPN would be the equivalent of speaking to someone in a language that only you and the other party understand, making it completely unintelligible to a potential third-party listening in from another phone in the house. A VPN encrypts the data used on outside devices, making it unusable to cybersecurity threats.

VPNs For Your Business

If your business employs remote workers or needs to provide company systems to representatives wirelessly on the go, establishing a responsible VPN protocol for your company is a good first step toward protecting sensitive organizational data. Fortunately, as the demand for VPN services has grown, these cybersecurity systems have become much more affordable.

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