VPN is short for Virtual Private Network and is a technology that creates an encrypted secure connection over a less secure network like the Internet. The benefit is that it provides the security that the network on which it is based cannot provide. It uses the internet to transport data. Many such networks can be created by using different systems incorporating encryption and other security mechanisms to ensure that only authorized users can access the network and information cannot be intercepted by the others. It is like a tunnel built to transmit data between a network of say an organization and a remote user. It hides your data and IP address.
The main VPN network protocols are:
IPSec – Developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force, to secure exchanges of data at the IP layer. It is widely used for creating VPNs
PPTP- Point to Point Tunneling Protocol for VPNs developed jointly by Microsoft, US Robotics and several remote access vendor companies. It is now obsolete because of security concerns
L2TP – Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol is an extension of the PPP Protocol (PPP, which establishes connectivity between 2 nodes or computers) L2TP allows ISPs to operate VPNs
SSL – Secure Sockets Layer is the commonly used one nowadays which can be used with a standard web browser. Unlike IPSec, it does not require installation of specialized client software on the end user’s computer.
Benefits of VPN
· Security and prevention of data theft
· Uncensored Internet access
· Unblocking ability for sites
· Keeping away data trackers by keeping your browsing history private
· Supports popular p2p protocol like BitTorrent
Drawbacks of VPN
VPN slows down your internet. The factors affecting the speed are the number of people using the VPN and the geographical location.
Who uses it?
It is used on an individual level – Consumers use a private VPN service or tunnel to protect their identity and online activity. This is especially relevant when we use public wifi which may not be secure. You can use anonymous VPNs, which serves as a privacy buffer between you and your Internet Service Provider, who otherwise has access to your internet usage patterns. VPNs are used extensively by BitTorrent users.
Corporates use it to communicate in confidentiality video, voice or data over a public network. It is also a good option when employees are scattered all over the globe. VPNs help connects global offices. Corporates either use a VPDN which helps connect to a company LAN through dial up or site-to-site- VPN where dedicated hardware is also used to connect multiple sites to the company LAN.