Also found in: Dictionary, Medical, Financial, Acronyms, Wikipedia.


McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (foldoc.org)


(Virtual Private Network) A private network configured within a public network such as the Internet or a carrier's network. A VPN provides anonymity and privacy for every desktop and mobile device that accesses the Internet. VPNs use so-called "tunneling" protocols because they tunnel a private channel through a public network (see VPN protocols).

VPNs provide a server that sits between the user and the destination website, which only sees the IP address of the VPN and not the user (see illustration below). See VPN service, anonymous Web surfing and proxy server.

A VPN encrypts the user's data because unencrypted traffic can be read by an attacker, especially in a public Wi-Fi hotspot. Another common encryption method is TLS, which every e-commerce and financial website employs for data transfer. However, TLS does not provide anonymity (see illustration below). See TLS.

Carrier VPNs
Carriers offer a variety of "virtual private routed networks" (VPRNs) that can connect customer's Ethernet frames or IP packets (see VPLS and MPLS).

VPN History
Years ago, the telephone carriers used their vast backbones to tunnel traffic between cities, giving the appearance of a private network that was more affordable than long distance private lines. Prior to the Internet, VPNs were built over several network architectures (see X.25, Switched 56, ATM and frame relay).

Anonymity and Privacy
Anonymity is provided because the website can only identify the IP address of the VPN server. Privacy is due to the encryption. See proxy server and TLS.

Choose Your Server - Choose Your Country
People also use a VPN to give them access to websites in countries that restrict foreign users for political and other purposes. A requesting server from within the same country overcomes those restrictions such as this VPN example from Bitdefender.
Copyright © 1981-2019 by The Computer Language Company Inc. All Rights reserved. THIS DEFINITION IS FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY. All other reproduction is strictly prohibited without permission from the publisher.
References in periodicals archive ?
The VPN business is all about trust and data protection.
Is it a free VPN? Any VPN provider that is offering a free service will be using other ways to earn money - and it's usually through selling user data.
This P2P VPN expands TNS' already robust VPN offerings.
In Europe and North America, anonymity while browsing is driving usage among VPN users with an estimated 44% of users in Germany doing so due to these concerns.
The installation process is similar for other platforms, such as Windows, Linux, and Android smartphones --just download the relevant installer software and use the same activation code to implement VPN access to the internet on your other devices, such as your home computer or smartphone.
Periodic update indicating how long the VPN has been connected
First, a VPN is an essential tool for organisations that work with people living under oppressive or authoritarian governments.
A VPN can be a great response to a variety of concerns, such as online privacy, anonymity, greater security on public Wi-Fi, and, of course, spoofing locations.
VPN started gaining traction when broadband came into the picture and people started streaming content.
This ultimate VPN also allows you to connect simultaneous devices using one account.
The internet- savvy generation of the Valley quickly turned to free VPN to bypass the ban accessing the social media on android phones.
A VPN's extra security allows only those at both ends of the online conversation to view the data, creating a private internet.