This virtual private network (VPN) extends a private network across a public network, and enables users to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if their computing devices were directly connected to the private network. A VPN is created by establishing a virtual point-to-point connection through the use of dedicated circuits or with tunneling protocols over existing networks.
Applications running on a computing device, e.g., a laptop, desktop, smartphone, across a VPN may therefore benefit from the functionality, security, and management of the private network. In other applications, Internet users may secure their connections with a VPN to circumvent geo-restrictions and censorship or to connect to proxy servers to protect personal identity and location to stay anonymous on the Internet.
VPNs cannot make online connections completely anonymous, but they can usually increase privacy and security. To prevent disclosure of private information, VPNs typically allow only authenticated remote access using tunneling protocols and encryption techniques.
VPN technology was developed to allow remote users and branch offices to access corporate applications and resources. Other uses such as remote workers connecting to a company network (telecommuting), connecting multiple company offices together over the Internet (site-to-site VPN), connecting to one's own home network from a remote location or securing communications on public WiFi.