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It's often recommended that you should use a VPN when using unsecured or untrusted networks, such as open public wifi or secured wifi that you don't control. What are the advantages to using a VPN on any network (wifi or wired), even a network you own/control?

  • What suggests that there is an advantage? – cpast Dec 12 '14 at 0:26
  • Do you control the network between your router and the server, or just between your computer and your router? – user253751 Dec 12 '14 at 1:26
  • "Control" could be as simple as "owning" the home wifi router, which is different from "controlling" the whole transit e.g. through a leased line you provision, and own the physical network cables. More likely the user controls their network between their client and the router. – DavidM Dec 12 '14 at 9:06
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If you control the network, there really isn't an advantage (under almost any circumstances). What a VPN does is simulate having a leased line from your computer to the network the VPN server is on. If you are already on that network, there is literally no advantage (unless you enjoy encryption overhead).

There is one main exception: if you control the network, but you cannot fully trust it, and the VPN server is on a separate network you can trust. For instance, if at a school you're worried people might tap into the cables somewhere on campus, but the VPN server and the routers to the Internet are all physically secured, you might not trust the campus network. Likewise, my guess is that ISPs have intranets that are separate from their networks they sell to clients, and that an ISP engineer might VPN from the ISP network even though it's the network they control.

It's important to note that using a VPN just means you're virtually on the network of the VPN server. If it is better to be on its network than the one you are physically on, you should use a VPN (for instance, if there's intranet stuff you need to access). For security purposes, you should use a VPN if and only if you trust the VPN server's network more than your own; it provides absolutely zero security past the VPN server; the only part of your communications that is secure is the path from the local network to the VPN server. If you're using some VPN provider that you trust more than your ISP (not necessarily a good idea, incidentally), then it can give advantages. If you're not worried about someone tapping the local network and you don't trust the VPN provider (and their ISP) more than you trust your network (and your ISP), it's stupid to use a VPN.

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    Yes, it's more about the security of the network between your client and the VPN. Anything upstream of the VPN is still open the same attacks. If you were subject to a targeted attack then it would probably be more difficult to attack the VPN upstream than to try and attack the local part of your network e.g. your home wifi. – DavidM Dec 12 '14 at 9:04
  • This can quite often be the case when you have a company's general corporate network and a separate internal network which deals with financial / health data and needs to be audited for compliance to industry standards that it would not be feasible or cost effective for the whole corporate network to meet. Employees who need to perform actions on that network can VPN in from the standard corporate one. – Stu W Dec 12 '14 at 12:11
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The advantages of using a VPN is that content you access on the internet and anything sent to a website is encrypted and routed through vpn. When a connection is encrypted it stops people from monitoring your connection. So all data send to website can't be read by anyone except the VPN provider. When a connection is not encrypted a attacker could preforming a mitm(Man in the middle attack) where the attacker can view all data that is not encrypted that you send to the website including usernames and passwords.

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    All the data can also be read by anyone upstream of the VPN provider, unless you are using end-to-end encryption (at which point the VPN isn't helping very much). VPNs provide no encryption whatsoever except on the link between you and the VPN server; any attack that isn't on that part of the connection is unaffected by a VPN. – cpast Dec 12 '14 at 7:33
  • I completely agree @cpast – Tim Jonas Dec 12 '14 at 7:37
  • @cpast I do not understand your point completely. Assume you are on the open wifi network but you use service like privateinternetaccess.com. Does it add any value to prevent other people of the open wifi network to read your data? – Léo Léopold Hertz 준영 May 21 '16 at 12:50

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