VPN services: The ultimate guide to protecting your data on the internet
(Source: zdnet.com)

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(Original link: zdnet.com)

https://hub.zdnet.com/core/object/lookup/common/content_video/3c4eb6be-2e32-4175-9a14-ab48ec14d341 You've heard the advice before: Whether you're in the office or on the road, a VPN is one of the best ways to protect yourself on the internet. But how effective are VPNs? What's the best one for you? What are the downsides? Our executive guide aims to answer all your VPN-related questions -- including a few you probably haven't thought about before.
What is a VPN? VPN is an acronym for Virtual Private Network. The purpose of a VPN is to provide you with security and privacy as you communicate over the internet.
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Here's the problem with the internet: It's inherently insecure. When the internet was first designed, the priority was to be able to send packets (chunks of data) as reliably as possible. Networking across the country and the world was relatively new, and nodes often went down. Most of the internet's core protocols (methods of communicating) were designed to route around failure, rather than secure data.
In fact, the applications you're accustomed to using, whether email, web, messaging, Facebook, etc., are all built on top of that Internet Protocol (IP) core. While some standards have developed, not all internet apps are secure. Many still send their information without any security or privacy protection whatsoever.
This leaves any internet user vulnerable to criminals who might steal your banking or credit card information, governments who might want to eavesdrop on their citizens, and other internet users who might want to spy on you for a whole range of nefarious reasons.
A VPN creates a private tunnel over the open internet. The idea is that everything you send is encapsulated in this private communications channel and encrypted so -- even if your packets are intercepted -- they can't be deciphered. VPNs are very powerful and important tools to protect yourself and your data , but they do have limitations.
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How does a VPN work? Let's start with the basic idea of internet communication. Suppose you're at your desk and you want to access a website like ZDNet . To do this, your computer initiates a request by sending some packets. If you're in an office, those packets often travel through switches and routers on your LAN before they are transferred to the public internet through a router.
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A virtual private network (VPN) enables users to send and receive data while remaining anonymous and secure online.
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Once on the public internet, those packets travel through a bunch of computers. A separate request is made to a series of name servers to translate the DNS name ZDNet.com to an IP address. That information is sent back to your browser, which then sends the request, again, through a bunch of computers on the public internet. Eventually, it reaches the ZDNet infrastructure, which also routes those packets, then grabs a webpage (which is actually a bunch of separate elements), and sends all that back to you.
Each internet request usually results in a whole series of communication events between multiple points. The way a VPN works is by encrypting those packets at the originating point, often hiding not only the data, but also the information about your originating IP address. The VPN software on your end then sends those packets to VPN server at some destination point, decrypting that information.
One of the most important issues in understanding the limits of VPNs is understanding where the endpoint of the VPN server resides. We'll talk about that next.
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What are the two main types of VPNs? Most of us are familiar with the concept of a LAN, a local area network. That's the private network inside of one physical location -- be it a home, a corporate building, or a campus. But many businesses don't run out of one location. They have branch offices, departments, and divisions that are geographically dispersed.
In many cases, each of these offices also have LANs. But how do the LANs connect? For some very specialized solutions, companies lease private lines to connect the offices. That can be very expensive. Instead, most companies opt to geographically connect separated private LANs over the public internet. To protect their data, they set up VPNs between offices, encrypting the data as it traverses the public internet.
This is corporate or enterprise VPN, and it's characterized by the same organization controlling both endpoints of the VPN. If your company controls the originating point (say a sales office) and the end point (like a VPN server at your corporate HQ), you can be quite well assured ( unless there's a bug ) that your data is securely transmitted.
The second type of VPN is...

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