What was the First VPN?

In college, my Web & Programming teacher made us learn the history of HTM, which at the time seemed strange. So strange, in fact, that my class asked him why the history of HTML was so important that it belonged on a test. He simply responded with “The concept must be understood.”

At the time, I thought nothing of it, but as I’ve learned about technology, old and new, I finally understand what my professor meant. Anyone can work a piece of technology given enough time, but do they know about the technology? Does the staff member running the audio equipment at a concert understand what each knob does? Should the IT guy know how a server works?

Every since my realization, I’ve believed that to truly understand a piece of technology, you must understand where it came from and the concepts behind it. That said, let’s take a look at one of the most popular pieces of software: virtual private networks.

VPNs have become extremely popular in the tech world thanks to benefits to a user’s privacy and security, but what is VPN? How does it even exist?

First VPN

1. The Start of Something Great

When it comes to VPNs, we have no one but Microsoft to thank. More specifically, we have Microsoft employee Gurdeep Singh-Pall. Gurdeep invented the Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol in 1996, which allowed users to have a secure internet connection at home.

This may not sound like much, but security on the internet was severely lacking in the 90’s/early 2000’s.Solutions such as anti-virus programs were becoming prevalent, but those programs wouldn’t fix the security of the connection itself, only the security of the user.

With P2PP created, businesses such as Microsoft and Cisco would start the development of VPNs, allowing users a safe connection. With a VPN, users would basically become invisible, along with any information coming to and from their connection.

2. Virtual Evolution

One important note is that early VPNs weren’t really made for consumer use. Most early forms of the VPN were made for businesses and businesses only. As the technology expanded, companies noticed that consumers would also benefit from the use of VPNs, and so started marketing the technology to homes everywhere.

Nowadays you have many different types of VPNs, the protocols that dictate how the VPN works, and can even get VPN hardware! But VPNs are not done evolving yet. Encryption has become one of the most important fields in tech now, as many companies and users are turning to encryption as a way to stay secure, such as VPNs or password lockers.

3. Popular Uses of VPNs

While many are worried about their governments and freedoms, not many people use VPNs. A recent poll shows that only one quarter use a VPN to access the Internet. While that’s still a lot of people, it’s not as many as you’d assume.

I’m also willing to bet that a large chunk of these users are from areas where censorship is prevalent. Users from countries such as China, Saudi Arabia, or North Korea depend on VPNs to allow them to view content that may otherwise be restricted. For example, Chinese users may use a VPN for Netflix since Netflix is banned in China.

Even if you’re not living in a censor-happy country, VPNs still provide benefits, most important being peace of mind for yourself. After all, I’m sure you want nothing more than to keep your privacy and security kept at a maximum.

In closing, this was all a very simple and brief window into what a VPN is. There are many different form of VPNs that use different protocols or whatever, but the concept is what’s important, and if you take anything from this article, let it be this: VPNs are a form of connection that allows a user to stay anonymous on the Internet. That’s it.

As VPNs grow, the spotlight on them will only glow brighter. If you ask me, VPNs are going to be the standard for security in the next decade, but of course I don’t have a crystal ball so I can’t be sure.

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