The internet world is becoming more and more a mobile world. Just take a look around you and you see teenagers and elderly people alike hunched over the latest iPhone or tablets. Every place you go usually has a “FREE WI-FI” sticker on the front door.
People no longer want to be tethered to their home or office internet connections and are seeking more private outside connections than ever before. With the advent of the ‘hotspot’, Wi-Fi is also becoming increasingly more insecure than ever before. Thus, the use of a VPN is the coveted source of external mobile connectivity today.
VPN’s, or Virtual Private Networks, are as their name implies, private. Used primarily by corporations to connect their employees to the internal network externally from a person’s home computer or laptop. The VPN is not solely used for corporations either.
Individuals can also securely access an organizations’ network with the proper protocols in place. VPN’s are fast becoming the method of connectivity among the masses today with VPN accessibility on a mobile device and tablets as well as laptop computers.
What is a VPN?
What is a VPN, you ask? Well, have you ever bought anything from a website like eBay or Amazon and used your credit card? Then you are using a VPN. The credit card transaction is done over a VPN known as an SSL or Secured Socket Layer. This is just one of the many methods of VPN out there to use and one of the most common and widely known. But what is a VPN? Let’s explore.
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“Tunneling”, the method in which all VPN’s work and the main way an SSL and SSH work, involves a connection created from one network to another whereby encrypted data is sent from one and decrypted on the other.
The connection between the two networks involves a “handshake”; both networks communicate with each other exchanging protocols and accepting one another as secure and valid, like a virtual meet and greet. Once the tunnel is created, much like a fiber optic cable but virtually, data can be exchanged with relative security.
A Secure Matter
Some of the protocols involved in VPN are more secure than others and make the ‘private’ in VPN what it is. The most secure form of VPN is the SSH which uses VPN tunnels and encryption via an encrypted channel. This is the most preferred method of file sharing managing to avoid any government (big brother IS watching!) content filters and anyone wishing to ‘hack’ or extract the data files over the connection.
The least secure is the IPSecurity (IPSec) which is your basic internet security protocol; however, IPSec is used to secure the communications or the ‘handshake’ between networks to create the secure tunnel through which your data will pass. The encryption levels of the tunnel are such that no outside sources can gain access to the information within the tunnel. This is a much more secure level of communication over the internet than a basic Wi-Fi or Ethernet and has its advantages and disadvantages.
The Pros and Cons
The advantages of a VPN are the privacy factors. It is inexpensive and cost effective to many corporations who use it and it is an easy and flexible platform to use. The transfer speed of the VPN is comparable to that of a broadband service, however, with the lack of QoS, or quality of service management, such as in an internet connection, performance issues put the VPN in an equally disadvantageous position as well.
A corporation can pay to have a trusted VPN guarantee that performance issues do not arise and work can be done smoothly.
And in the End…
The uses of a VPN are infinite with the most coveted feature being security seconded only by ease of use. More and more people today are using VPN’s not only in the ever expanding global economy but also in their private lives, and for many reasons.
From purchasing a product over an SSL on a website to gaining access to government banned materials, VPN is the best way to utilize the internet securely and easily from anywhere in the world.