What is a VPN? Understanding, Functions, and How a VPN (Virtual Private Network) Works


VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a private network on the internet where every device connected to the internet can have an uninterrupted connection. In other words, by using a VPN you can connect to a network anonymously.

Then how does it work?

The way a VPN works is actually very simple, although you need to know in advance about the protocol or set of rules used by a VPN to provide a secure private network. Before that, let's find out the basics first:

SSL (Secured Socket Layer):is a 3-way handshake method to ensure proper authentication between the client machine and the server. The authentication process is based on cryptography where the certificate is valid as a cryptographic-key already stored in the client and server, this process is used to initiate a connection.

IPSec (IP Security): This protocol can work in transport mode or tunneling mode, so it can do its job of securing VPN connections. The difference between the two is, the transport mode only encrypts the Payload in the data i.e. only when the message is in the data, whereas the tunneling mode encrypts all the data to be sent.

PPTP (Point-To-Point Transfer Protocol):serves to connect users located in several separate places from private servers in the VPN network, and also uses tunneling mode for its operation. Low maintenance costs and simple work make VPN protocols more popular.

L2TP (Layer Two Tunnelling Protocol): serves to facilitate the tunneling of data between two geographic locations through a VPN network, L2TP is often used in combination with the IPSec protocol to add a layer of security to better communications.

From here, if you already have a rough idea of ​​the various protocols used in a VPN. Let's find out more about how it works.

When you are connected to a public network like the internet, you can assume that all your data will flow through a large tunnel along with the data of other users.

So, whoever wants to spy on you, then he can easily see your data packets from that network. But when you are using a VPN, the data packets you send will go through a private tunnel in a large tunnel. And all your data will be converted into garbage values, so that no one can recognize/identify the data packets.

VPN Connection Settings in Three Phases:

Authentication:In this phase, the first data packet will be packaged, basically the packet will be wrapped in another packet and some headers and some other things, all done to hide the identity of the data packet. After that, your device will initiate a connection by sending a Hello request to the VPN server, where it will respond with a reply and ask for credentials to clarify the authenticity of the user.

Tunneling:   After the authentication stage is complete, as we discussed earlier, an imaginary tunnel is created to provide a direct point to point connection over the internet. Then, you can send whatever data you want through the tunnel.

Encryption:After we successfully create a tunnel, we can send whatever information we want, but the information we send is still not completely secure if we connect to a free VPN service, where the VPN is also used by other people. So, we encrypt the data packets before sending them into the tunnel, so there is a restriction on other users trying to "peek" in our packets, because he will only see some garbage data flowing through the tunnel.

Still confused huh? Okay, let's summarize a little.

Say, you want to access a website, then your device will send an access request to the VPN server which will then forward the request to the website you are going to and receive data from that site. This data will then be transferred back to your device. Then the website will think, the VPN server is a user and will find traces of your device as the real user.

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