|In a nutshell, a VPN is a point-to-point encrypted tunne between to different sites. With regard to security, the only thing more secure is a dedicated leased line between the same two sites. |
For more information on VPN, google it and do some reading.
What is so different using a VPN than a regular home network that makes it more secure?
You're trying to compare fruit and veggies here. The two are not the same thing. Mind you, if you had a best friend you trusted, you could establish a VPN tunnel between his home network and yours and share everything. To understand why you're comparing dissimilar things, read up on a Local Area Network as well as VPN and you'll understand. A comparison of similar things would be, "what's the differnece between a dedicated leased line and a VPN" (in this case, both things that join two remote locations)?
Is it not possible for prying eyes to wander into your connection using the VPN server software as easily as one can on a wired/wireless home network?
No, it's not. a VPN tunnel is encrypted and has a begining point and and end point. If you're not located at either end, you can't unscramble the data flowing over the open network (internet) since you don't have an encryption key.
Instead of having dozens of people sharing a network, isn't it more risky sharing a network where there are millions(?) of users?
Certainly it's more "risky" but risk can be mitigated using technology like a VPN. A lot of sites use encryption and secure web pages...most especially for anything that involves say purchasing online using a credit card.
It matters not how straight the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.