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Old Jan 26, 11, 5:25 pm
  #9  
Zarf4
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: SNA Rwy 20L
Programs: QF Silver
Posts: 703
To dumb it down even a bit more...

A VPN is simply an encrypted connection between you on the road and a trusted connection to the internet (say your DSL connection at home.) You have a client program on your laptop which connects to a server sitting at home, work, or a commercial service.

VPNs address 4 major problems: 1) Security, 2) Port blocking, 3) IP geographic restrictions and 4) Access to your local network.

To use a VPN you just run the client program and it will share a secure certificate with the VPN server. It uses what are known as public/private keys which are very safe. After the client connects with the server all internet traffic is encrypted between your laptop to the server.


SECURITY

When you connect to the internet at a Holiday Inn or Starbucks most of your web browsing can be intercepted by: a) other users close enough to hear your wireless connection and b) nefarious folks between the hotel router and the final www address you're linking up to. Sites starting with https:// (as opposed to http://) are relatively secure but not 100%. Since your traffic is encrypted all anyone in the middle will see will be unintelligible.

PORT BLOCKING
Ever notice that from some wireless hotspots you can't send/receive e-mail through Outlook? It's probably because the hotspot specifically blocks the ports used by e-mail (generally ports 25 & 110). They do this so their guests can't send out SPAM coming from their IP address. With the VPN connected it's like you are directly connected from home and mail should work normally.

GEOGRAPHIC RESTRICTIONS
When you're in another country your IP address (which is actually the hotspot's IP address) gives that away, so if you're in Australia and you go to www.google.com, it will actually take you to www.google.com.au bleh. Some COUNTRIES actually block traffic in/out to specific sites -- we since you're clever enough to be using a VPN, the country block is blind to where you're going and the IP address will be the one of the VPN server. Useful for watching Netflix in China....

ACCESS TO YOUR LOCAL NETWORK
If you have a network attached file system or shared printer at home you can access it when on the road.

Anyway just an oversimplified overview of why you might want a VPN.
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