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I'm a little confused about how VPNs work ... I read that they provide an end-to-end encrypted tunnel between you and whoever you're trying to connect to but is that actually the case?

VPNs let you route through different countries right? - So is it an encrypted tunnel between you and the VPN service providers server ... then the connection gets decrypted and goes out in plain text? - Or does the connection route through the VPN server then to the destination still encrypted in it's tunnel?

[me in UK?] ----- [VPN server in USA?] ----- [cnn.com]

In the diagram above at what point does the request get decrypted? and does the request have the IP address of the VPN server or me? - Does the request leave the encrypted tunnel so the VPN server an read it ... then go back into the tunnel until it reaches CNN.com?

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In the diagram above, the encryption exists between you and the VPN server. Past the VPN server it is no longer encrypted. A VPN is a way to send traffic over a public connection and still have a reasonable expectation of privacy. The typical use case for them is either protecting your privacy or thwarting geoIP based filtering.

However, like with any encryption you must negotiate the encryption scheme and keys. Thinking about it that way, for the VPN traffic to be encrypted further would require the website to be running VPN software and configuring it to connect with this VPN provider.

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