You’re probably already familiar with what a VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is. You probably even know that a VPN uses something known as encryption to increase your security. That is about as far as most people ever get in their knowledge of the encryption used in a VPN because the subject can quickly become technical, and the average VPN user has no interest in it. Most people look at their VPN like a light switch. They just want it to come on when they flip the switch.
In this article we’re going to demystify the technology behind VPN encryption, and we’ll even offer a little lesson in Internet history along the way.
The beginning of encryption gave birth to the Internet
Here’s a question to test your knowledge of Internet history: who invented the Internet? If you answered Al Gore, shame on you.
The humble beginnings of the Internet, believe it or not, can be traced back to World War II and a place called Bletchley Park. It was here that Alan Turing and a group of skilled mathematicians and scientists were tasked with deciphering codes intercepted from the German army during WWII. The Germans were using a fairly sophisticated piece of equipment called the Enigma that was able to encrypt messages sent to German leaders in the field. The process was slow, but by the time the war neared a close, Turing and his associates were able to break the codes before they reached their final destination.
Why is this important? Two reasons. First, after the war Turing and the other men involved in the project became the foremost scientists in the field of computers. It was their work which eventually led to the creation of the Internet as we know it today. Second, they were among the first to understand the elaborate process of encryption, and laid the groundwork for it to be perfected as we use it today in a VPN.
Encryption, plainly speaking, is the process of creating elaborate ciphers to encode and decode data. As it relates to a VPN, encryption serves to encode the data passed between computers on a network.
How A VPN uses encryption
A VPN tunnel basically creates a tunnel between your machine and a network access point, and guards that tunnel with encryption. The VPN stands between you and the access point, like a guard. It encrypts the data traveling the network, and also changes your IP address to that of its own. Encryption is the sword in the hands of the VPN. As far as the access point is concerned, it is communicating with the VPN. The VPN then communicates securely with your machine.
A protocol has to be used to maintain encryption, and in most cases in a remote-access VPN the protocol used is known as PPP, or Point-to-Point Protocol. To be more specific, PPP is actually encapsulated in one of the three following protocols:
- L2F, known as Layer-to-Forwarding
- PPTP, Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol and the most common variety
- L2TP, Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol which makes basically combines the features of the first two
This is a lot of technical mumbo jumbo, and the fact is you don’t need to understand how any of it works to use a VPN. Remember the light switch? All you need to do is connect to your VPN and rest assured that your data is being encrypted through one of these protocols.
Why is encryption important?
Whenever you browse the Internet in an unsecured environment, you leave behind a significant digital footprint which can be used to the advantage of data thieves and hackers. From the information retained by your browsers to the emails you send to the sites you visit—all of these are vulnerable to prying eyes without encryption.
When your data is encrypted by a VPN, the result is a string of indecipherable gibberish. Encryption has come a long way since the days of Alan Turing, and the ciphers created today and complex and virtually impossible to break. Another advantage of a VPN is that as encryption gets more advanced so does the VPN. VPNaccounts uses state-of-the-art industry standard encryption to protect your online privacy.
Without encryption there wouldn’t be much point in using a VPN. Encryption and masking your computer’s IP address is what gives a VPN its teeth, so to speak.
Now you have a basic understanding of what encryption is and how it functions to keep you safe while you are browsing the Web. The use of a personal VPN has increased dramatically since 2011 and the numbers of VPN users is expected to reach record numbers by the end of 2013. This makes it all the more important that you know what kind of encryption your VPN provider offers so that you can make an informed choice. Come get yout VPN Account today.
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