VPN stands for virtual private network, and it's a type of technology that establishes a secure network connection over a public network, like the internet, or even within a service provider's private network.
Different institutions like government agencies, schools, and big corporations utilize the services of a VPN, so that their users will be able to connect securely to their private networks.
Just like with wide area network (WAN), VPN technology have the ability to link several sites together, even those separated over a large distance. With the case of educational institutions, to connect campuses together, even those located in another country, VPN is used for this purpose.
To use a virtual private network, users are required to provide a username and password for authentication. Some VPN connections also need to be provided a PIN (personal identification number), usually made up of unique verification code, which can be found in the form of a token.
The said PIN changes every couple of seconds, and is matched with the account's username and password. Even if the token is stolen, it will be useless without the aforementioned information.
A virtual private network is able to maintain privacy through the use of security procedures and tunneling protocols. I have listed below the different VPN protocols and their description:
Because it makes use of 128 bit keys to encrypt traffic, PPTP or Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol is considered a less secure protocol than others. However, for many users, this will already do, especially when they connect with a VPN only for personal use.
A more secure choice is Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol or L2TP, because it works together with IPSec protocol that utilizes better protected encryption algorithms than what's used with PPTP. The combination of the 3DES encryption algorithm and a 168 bit keys are what make L2TP encryption more powerful.
Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol or SSTP is considered the most secure of all protocols, since it is a SSL VPN protocol, and uses 2048 bit encryption keys, as well as authentication certificates.
The reason why it's the strongest out of all VPN protocols is that it has the ability to operate even on network environments that blocks VPN protocols. Some countries like Belize do not allow the use of VPN connections, and there are certain companies that do this as well. VPN with SSTP protocol is useful for these types of situations.
With the above information, you can match up the type of VPN protocols that can work best for you. If you only want the service because you want to feel safe and secure when browsing the web at home or hotspot connections, PPTP will work well with you. If you need more protection than what a PPTP can provide, you only have to go to the next one to answer you needs.