How VPNs use tunneling and encryption


VPNs are great tools for protecting your online
privacy, but how do they actually accomplish that? Let’s look at two key VPN concepts: tunneling
and encryption. When you visit a website, your computer sends
a request to a server, and the server responds by sending the content you asked for back
to you. If you go online without a VPN, it’s kind
of like sending a postcard. Your computer’s request is the postcard,
and your internet service provider is the mailman. Let’s say you’re writing a postcard to
Cindy. You’re asking Cindy for pictures of cats. If all goes according to plan, Cindy will
send back pictures of cats. Your mailman—and the nosy people he passes
along his route—can see that you are writing to Cindy asking her for pictures of cats. Similarly, your internet service provider—and
any third-party snoops—can see what sites you’re visiting and sometimes even what
content you’re looking at. So much for your privacy. Now, let’s look at how it works if we add
one layer of VPN protection: tunneling. Whan a VPN uses tunneling, it encapsulates
your data inside other data. That way it’s harder for third parties to
access. In our mail metaphor, that’s like sealing
your postcard inside an envelope addressed to a mail-forwarding center. Your mailman delivers your envelope to this
mail-forwarding center. Someone there opens the envelope before sending
your postcard to your recipient, Cindy. Cindy then sends her response back to the
mail-forwarding center, which they put in an envelope and send back to you. However, tunneling alone isn’t enough to
protect your privacy. There are still ways for people to see your
personal data when it’s being tunneled. That’s why a good VPN doesn’t just use
tunneling—it also uses encryption. Encryption makes it so that only the intended
recipients can read a message. Think of encryption like a lock with two keys. You have one key, and your VPN has the other
key. Before you send your postcard to the VPN to
forward on to Cindy, you lock it up inside a box with your key. Then you hand the box to your mailman to deliver
to the VPN. No matter how nosey he or others are, they
can’t unlock the box to see the postcard inside. When he delivers the box to the VPN, they
use their key to open it. And if it’s a VPN that really cares about
your privacy, they empty the box’s contents into a mail-sorting system that anonymizes
your request for cat pictures—that way the VPN company won’t be able to track whom
you’re communicating with or the contents of your communication. Your cat picture request to Cindy? It stays your business. Cindy will get the postcard from the VPN,
send back the cat pictures, and the VPN’s mail sorting system makes sure you get them
back in a nice box with a lock that only you can open. While the VPN’s encryption process may seem
complicated, it’s actually incredibly efficient and happens in the blink of an eye. It protects your data, whether it’s cat pictures,
or something more sensitive like financial or medical information. So when it comes to keeping your digital life
secure and private, don’t leave your data exposed for the world to see—try ExpressVPN. By using both tunneling and encryption, ExpressVPN
offers you top-of-the-line protection on all your devices. You’ll stay secure wherever, whenever.

Danny Hutson

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