The Internet is not a safe environment particularly for members of an organization who need to transmit classified information to one another. VPN is a technology that offers protection from interceptions by cyber criminals. Understanding what is a VPN is the initial step to ensuring that you and the people in your network can securely do your jobs online.
Introduction to VPN
Virtual private network (VPN) is a secure encrypted connection that allows computers to communicate within a public network such as the Internet. VPN uses specific methods to safeguard a network and keep it from getting accessed by unauthorized users. It also prevents information from being mutilated or copied while being transferred from one computer to another through the Internet. The concept is similar to a subway that only identified people are allowed to enter; the highway is the Internet.
Types of VPN
There are three types of VPN. They vary based on the technologies involved, point of access by the authorized users, and the scope of the encryption. There is not one type that is applicable for all purposes, thus there are organizations that use all.
Dial-up VPN. Dial-up is a software-based VPN that allows a remote user to securely connect to a remote network. It is a user-to-LAN connection – a user from another location will need to connect to the company LAN to gain access to their private network. It is most useful for companies that have mobile employees. Dial-up VPN is possible through a third-party service provider.
Site to site VPN. This type of VPN uses a dedicated hardware and large-scale encryption to connect multiple fixed sites over a public network. Site to site VPN is either intranet or extranet based.
Intranet based. An intranet is a password-protected site for company employees. An intranet based VPN is where multiple remote sites connect to one private network. For example, a company with different branches will need site to site VPN in order that the branches can access the private company site.
Extranet based. This is like an intranet that is partially accessible to authorized outsiders. This means that one will need a username and password to enter the extranet. This works best for business partners, or multiple companies who need to work in a shared environment.
How a VPN Works
A VPN protects data and connections in several ways. These include firewall, encryption, and tunneling. Users are assigned their own username and password to enter the firewall and communicate within a secured area through the Internet. A firewall prevents unauthorized users from seeing or hearing the transfer of information in a network. Additionally through encryption, data are converted into codes that only authorized computers can interpret. This allows computers in a network to send classified information to one another without the risk of it getting hacked. Meanwhile, the tunneling system creates a secured route where a computer in a network can easily reach another computer. The tunnel is hidden, or cannot be infiltrated by computers outside a network.
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