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    Definitions 4 min read

    P2P VPN meaning: what’s a peer-to-peer VPN?

    A P2P VPN is a type of Virtual Private Network that has servers optimized to work with peer-to-peer networks. These servers are configured to handle the large bandwidth required for P2P interaction, without shutting down or throttling.

    A P2P VPN encrypts traffic and masks the IP addresses of users within the network. It secures users against risks such as P2P DDoS attacks.

    What is a peer-to-peer network?

    In a peer-to-peer network, all the computers within the network (referred to as peers) can connect to each other directly to share files. 

    Unlike when you use a website, there is no centralized server. Instead, every individual computer within the system is both a server and a client. For example, if you were using a P2P network yourself, you would have access to browse files held on your peers’ computers, and conversely, those peers could browse the files on yours.

    One of the best known examples of a peer-to-peer network is BitTorrent. Created in 2001, it offered the first mainstream platform for P2P file sharing, and has over 1 billion users.

    Difference between P2P network and VPN

    A P2P network is “closed”, only accessible to verified peers within that network. A VPN, on the other hand, is an end-to-end tunnel that encrypts internet traffic. It also masks the IP address of your computer.

    Is a peer-to-peer network as secure as a VPN?

    Using a P2P network alone is not secure, and there are a couple of reasons for this. Let’s take a closer look.

    P2P network traffic is not encrypted

    First, the connection between computers in a P2P network is not encrypted. Say you’re using a P2P network spanning different offices for your job. If a hacker managed to gain access to the network (via a phishing message, for example), they would be able to intercept files uploaded to the network, and read them with no restriction. On the other hand, if that same network were encrypted by a P2P VPN, a hacker would be unable to read any covertly intercepted data – they would have no way of deciphering it.

    So using a P2P VPN adds a layer of security by encrypting all of the data within that network. This prevents interlopers from accessing sensitive information, even if they access the network itself.

    P2P network IP addresses are not private

    When you use a P2P network, it’s also important to consider that your peers will be able to see your IP address. This can be risky, since your IP address can be used as a vector to deploy cyber attacks (such as DDoS attacks). 

    Furthermore, internet service providers often throttle your connection when they detect P2P network interaction. If you’re torrenting media, your activity may even be monitored by legal entities lurking within torrent swarms, using your IP address as a reference.

    NB) torrenting is not illegal by itself – but it’s sometimes used for illegal activity.

    The best way to conceal your IP address is by using a P2P VPN. This enables you to mask your IP address, even as you engage with peer-to-peer networks.

    What is a P2P VPN? Why is it unique?

    A P2P VPN is a virtual private network capable of masking your IP address and encrypting your traffic as you use peer-to-peer file-sharing networks. 

    Not all VPNs are compatible with P2P networks. Some VPN services have agreements in place to cut off when they detect peer-to-peer activity. Others have servers that simply cannot support the intense bandwidth required.

    A designated P2P VPN is equipped to handle this type of activity. It will not cut off automatically when it detects peer-to-peer interaction, meaning your IP address and traffic will remain concealed.

    How a P2P VPN works

    It creates an encrypted tunnel for date passing through the network, preventing a hacker from being able to intercept sensitive information. 

    If you’re using a VPN to interact with a public P2P network, it serves your personal security by routing your connection through a server within the VPN’s network, thus masking your IP address.