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Virtual Private Networks

There are many practical uses for a Virtual Private Network (VPN). VPN services have become an important tool to counter the growing threat of Internet surveillance. Currently, most Internet users are well aware of the fact that pretty much every step they take on the Internet is logged or monitored. To prevent their IP-addresses from being visible to the rest of the Internet, many have signed up for a VPN service.


A VPN is a group of computers (or discrete networks) linked together over a public network – most commonly the Internet. It encrypts your computer’s Internet connection to guarantee that all the data you are sending and receiving remains private and secure from any potential prying eyes. A VPN allows businesses to share private information across multiple computers and devices from different locations, all without having to deploy physical connections and without compromising security.


There are many different types of people who can benefit from using a virtual private network. Whether you are an employee accessing private company data, or a student protecting their data on a public campus network, a VPN essentially creates a secure tunnel through a public network that gives private remote access to the user. This can be very beneficial for a business by allowing employees to connect (with internet access),  to their headquarters from their homes, remote office locations, or even on a business trip.  With the rising number of remote workers in the industry today, allowing employees to work from home can help cut office upkeep expenses and allow for flexible scheduling.  It also can reduce the physical reliance on a corporate headquarters in the event of a location going offline.


There are primarily two types of commonly used VPN's – IPSec VPN and SSL/TLS VPN. The more popular of the two, IPSec VPN, uses security policies such as tunneling, encryption, and authentication. IPSec VPN’s assume there is a trusted relationship present between various sites or individual computers joining the network. It has procedures in place to provide data integrity, authenticity, and confidentiality across the Internet. It’s a client based VPN technology and only connects to those sites and devices that have had client software previously installed to ensure their integrity on the network. IPSec VPN’s are typically seen more often in the workplace due in part to the ability of allowing full access to an office headquarters with centralized management options. This permits home office computers that access the network to be held to the same standards as those physically in the workplace.


The other commonly used virtual private network is an SSL/TLS VPN. The Secure Sockets Protocol (SSL)/Transport Layer Security (TLS) technology creates a VPN between multiple sites using the same high standards of encryption and authentication. SSL/TLS VPN's provide secure access through web browsers so it doesn't require client software to be installed on each accessing computer like an IPSec VPN would. This type of VPN is easier to deploy and maintain when handling a large number of devices. Often, this VPN integrates well within a business that has several remote users and a large number of mobile devices connecting to the network. Since these networks do not require software to be pre-installed, there are better disaster recovery options in the event of a system going offline. The VPN allows anytime access to the corporate network for authorized users as long as they have access to the Internet. SSL/TLS VPN's are also valuable in the sense that they have exhaustive auditing capabilities which can be vital for regulatory compliance. Login information can also be taken regarding data and resources accessed from users.


There are many additional factors when deciding what type of virtual private network to install in your business or home network. If you would like to learn more about implementing a VPN at your home or office, feel free to contact one of our System Administrators for a brief overview of how a VPN can help you.