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What is a VPN?

Basically, a VPN is a private network that uses a public network (usually the Internet) to connect remote sites or users together. Instead of using a dedicated, real-world connection such as leased line, a VPN uses "virtual" connections routed through the Internet from the company's private network to the remote site or employee.

How Does it Work?

A Virtual private network can be a cost effective and secure way for different corporations to provide user access to the corporate network and for remote networks to communicate with each other across the Internet. VPN connections are more cost-effective than dedicated private lines. Usually a VPN involves two parts, the protected or "inside" network, which provides physical and administrative security to protect the

Transmission, and a less trustworthy, "outside" network or segment (usually through the Internet). Generally, a firewall sits between a remote user's workstation or client and the host network or server. As the user's client establishes the communication with the firewall, the client may pass authentication data to an authentication service inside the perimeter. A known trusted person (sometimes only when using trusted devices) can be provided with appropriate security privileges to access resources not available to general users.

What is it used For?

There are many uses for a VPN.  It creates a secure connection between two points using the Internet, all communication across the VPN is encrypted so is quite safe.  Once a VPN has been created the network at both ends are connected together.  
The practical applications of this could be:

There are a number of way to achieve VPN access, utilizing software and hardware.  Some are cheap, some are very expensive and of course they vary in reliability.  Like most things IT it all depends on what you want to do and how much you wish to spend.  One thing is constant, security! Some companies try to suggest that some VPN’s are “better” than others. This is at best a half truth, the reality is that ALL VPN’s are based on standards.  The standards increase in complexity and the levels of encryption become more complex (therefore more “secure”).  Of course the most important thing is that your VPN is implemented correctly, and the right level of complexity used. There is always a trade off between security and ease of use.

VPN – virtual private network

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Virtual Private Network