VPN or Virtual Private Network
A Virtual Private Network is a connection method used to add security and privacy to private and public networks, like WiFi Hotspots and the Internet. Virtual Private Networks are most often used by corporations to protect sensitive data. However, using a personal VPN is increasingly becoming more popular as more interactions that were previously face-to-face transition to the Internet. Privacy is increased with a Virtual Private Network because the user’s initial IP address is replaced with one from the Virtual Private Network provider. Subscribers can obtain an IP address from any gateway city the VPN service provides. For instance, you may live in San Francisco, but with a Virtual Private Network, you can appear to live in Amsterdam, New York, or any number of gateway cities.
Types of VPNs
A remote access VPN securely connects a device outside the corporate office. These devices are known as endpoints and may be laptops, tablets, or smartphones. Advances in VPN technology have allowed security checks to be conducted on endpoints to make sure they meet a certain posture before connecting. Think of remote access as computer to network.
A site-to-site VPN connects the corporate office to branch offices over the Internet. Site-to-site VPNs are used when distance makes it impractical to have direct network connections between these offices. Dedicated equipment is used to establish and maintain a connection. Think of site-to-site access as network to network.
Why do I need a VPN?
- Hide your IP address
- Change your IP address
- Encrypt data transfers
- Mask your location
- Access blocked websites
Virtual Private Network Security
Security is the main reason why corporations have used VPNs for years. There are increasingly simple methods to intercept data traveling to a network. WiFi spoofing and Firesheep are two easy ways to hack information. A useful analogy is that a firewall protects your data while on the computer and a VPN protects your data on the web. VPNs use advanced encryption protocols and secure tunneling techniques to encapsulate all online data transfers. Most savvy computer users wouldn’t dream of connecting to the Internet without a firewall and up-to-date antivirus. Evolving security threats and ever increasing reliance on the Internet make a Virtual Private Network an essential part of well-rounded security. Integrity checks ensure that no data is lost and that the connection has not been hijacked. Since all traffic is protected, VPNs are preferred over proxies.
Setting Up a VPN
Setting up a Virtual Private Network is a straightforward process. It’s often as simple as entering a username and sever address. The dominant smartphones can configure Virtual Private Networks using PPTP and L2TP/IPsec protocols. All major operating systems can configure PPTP VPN connections. OpenVPN and L2TP/IPsec protocols require a small open source application (OpenVPN) and certificate download respectively.
Virtual Private Network Protocols
The number of protocols and available security features continue to grow with time. The most common protocols are:
PPTP – PPTP has been around since the days of Windows 95. The main selling point of PPTP is that it can be simply setup on every major OS. In short, PPTP tunnels a point-to-point connection over the GRE protocol. Unfortunately, the security of the PPTP protocol has been called into question in recent years. It is still strong, but not the most secure.
L2TP/IPsec – L2TP over IPsec is more secure than PPTP and offers more features. L2TP/IPsec is a way of implementing two protocols together in order to gain the best features of each. For example, the L2TP protocol is used to create a tunnel and IPsec provides a secure channel. These measures make for an impressively secure package.
Open VPN – OpenVPN is an SSL-based Virtual Private Network that continues to gain popularity. The software used is open source and freely available. SSL is a mature encryption protocol, and OpenVPN can run on a single UDP or TCP port, making it extremely flexible.
Virtual Private Network Providers
There are many choices when it comes to VPN providers. There are some Virtual Private Network providers who offer free service and there are some which charge for VPN service. We have found that the paid VPN providers such as VyprVPN are preffered to the free service providers. Paid VPN providers offer robust gateways, proven security, free software, and unmatched speed. Compare VPN Providers using the data our friends over at VPN.com have compiled to find the right VPN for you.
How does a virtual private network (VPN) work?
A VPN extends a corporate network through encrypted connections made over the Internet. Because the traffic is encrypted between the device and the network, traffic remains private as it travels. An employee can work outside the office and still securely connect to the corporate network. Even smartphones and tablets can connect through a VPN.
What is secure remote access?
Secure remote access provides a safe, secure way to connect users and devices remotely to a corporate network. It includes VPN technology that uses strong ways to authenticate the user or device. VPN technology is available to check whether a device meets certain requirements, also called a device’s posture, before it is allowed to connect remotely.
Is VPN traffic encrypted?
Yes, traffic on the virtual network is sent securely by establishing an encrypted connection across the Internet known as a tunnel. VPN traffic from a device such as a computer, tablet, or smartphone is encrypted as it travels through this tunnel. Offsite employees can then use the virtual network to access the corporate network.
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