A General Question About VPN Encryption

Bulldog

Regular Contributor
I have a general question about encryption when using a VPN. There's no problem - this is just for my own understanding.

If I understand correctly, a VPN's client encrypts my traffic as it leaves my computer. This encrypted traffic then goes to my ISP, who sends it on to the VPN.

If I understand correctly, virtually all traffic moving on the internet is encrypted - that's the 's' in https.

Does this mean that my traffic is actually encrypted twice - once by the VPN's client and again while travelling the internet on its way to the VPN?
 

ColinTaylor

Part of the Furniture
Does this mean that my traffic is actually encrypted twice
Correct.
- once by the VPN's client
Yes.
and again while travelling the internet on its way to the VPN?
I think you mean travelling to its destination (e.g. a web server). EDIT: Yes I see what you mean; double encrypted between the VPN client and the VPN provider, single encrypted from the VPN provider to the final destination.
 
Last edited:

Bulldog

Regular Contributor
Thanks for your help!

Doesn't my traffic go to the VPN first, and then on to whatever web server I want to view? That's how my IP address gets replaced with the VPN's address.
 

dosborne

Very Senior Member
Keep in mind, depending on your configuration, not everything is encrypted, or at least not encrypted twice. There are many variables, such as which DNS servers you use.

In general though, you create an encrypted tunnel from your client to the VPN server. Depending on what you access after that, it could be encrypted traffic (there double encryption), or not (standard http, or ftp, etc). Similarly, your request leaves the VPN provider at some point and you no longer benefit from the VPN level encryption for the traffic at that point in the data journey. Then there's the whole "return" data trip...

Ultimately, a VPN used in this type of scenario, reduces or eliminates the possibility of your ISP "seeing" the data (for the most part) and allows others, such as the site you are accessing, to trace or "see" the data and path back only as far as the VPN exit point.
 

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