Origin of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and how they work?

  • The first VPN, or virtual private network, technology was developed in 1996 by Microsoft employees, am­ong whom was India-born Gurdeep Singh Pall.
  • Pall also co-authored the first VPN protocol for the industry. VPNs were initially used by large companies to enable secure communication.
  • Essentially, a VPN gives access to sensitive data to the person or entity it is intended for without the risk of it being seen or tampered with by other users on the network.

How does a VPN work?

An individual, group of individuals or an organization downloads a VPN software (most good ones have subscription plans), selects a server that will be based in another location (US, UK, Germany or whichever location the VPN provider supports), and starts browsing.

Sitting in India, if you connect to, say, a UK server, you can access, for example, Netflix UK’s content library that is said to be the biggest on the streaming service.

In a business context, a VPN is useful because it encrypts the data being sent by your device, hiding it from other users on the network, and decrypts it at the end of the intended user. Simply put, you and your colleague could be sitting in Mumbai and Madrid, but with a VPN it will seem like you are both accessing computers or the internet on a network in the same city.

One of the provisions of the liberalized OSP (Other Service Providers) guidelines of 2020, which enabled most technology services and business process management companies to work from home during the pandemic, was to allow the use of private VPNs. This gave clients, including those in areas such as finance, the comfort that their data was secure.

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