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VPN Tutorial

An introduction to VPN software, VPN hardware and protocols

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The Virtual Private Network - VPN - has attracted the attention of many organizations looking to both expand their networking capabilities and reduce their costs.

The VPN can be found in workplaces and homes, where they allow employees to safely log into company networks. Telecommuters and those who travel often find a VPN a more convenient way to stay connected to the corporate intranet. No matter your current involvement with VPNs, this is a good technology to know something about. This VPN tutorial involves many interesting aspects of network protocol design, Internet security, network service outsourcing, and technology standards.

What Exactly Is A VPN?

A VPN supplies network connectivity over a possibly long physical distance. In this respect, a VPN is a form of Wide Area Network (WAN).

The key feature of a VPN, however, is its ability to use public networks like the Internet rather than rely on private leased lines. VPN technologies implement restricted-access networks that utilize the same cabling and routers as a public network, and they do so without sacrificing features or basic security.

A VPN supports at least three different modes of use:

  • Remote access client connections
  • LAN-to-LAN internetworking
  • Controlled access within an intranet
Read more - About VPN Applications

VPN Pros and Cons

Like many commercialized network technologies, a significant amount of sales and marketing hype surrounds VPN. In reality, VPNs provide just a few specific potential advantages over more traditional forms of wide-area networking. These advantages can be significant, but they do not come for free.

The potential problems with the VPN outnumber the advantages and are generally more difficult to understand. The disadvantages do not necessarily outweigh the advantages, however. From security and performance concerns, to coping with a wide range of sometimes incompatible vendor products, the decision of whether or not to use a VPN cannot be made without significant planning and preparation.

Read more - Advantages and Disadvantages of VPNs

Technology Behind VPNs

Several network protocols have become popular as a result of VPN developments:
  • PPTP
  • L2TP
  • IPsec
  • SOCKS
These protocols emphasize authentication and encryption in VPNs. Authentication allows VPN clients and servers to correctly establish the identity of people on the network. Encryption allows potentially sensitive data to be hidden from the general public.

Many vendors have developed VPN hardware and/or software products. Unfortunately, immature VPN standards mean that some of these products remain incompatible with each other.

Read more - VPN Technologies

The Future of VPN

Virtual private networks have grown in popularity as businesses to save money on remote network access for employees. Many corporations have also adopted VPNs as a security solution for private Wi-Fi wireless networks. Expect a continued gradual expansion in use of VPN technology to continue in the coming years.

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