Research Paper Example: Introduction to Virtual Private Network (VPN)

8 pages
1951 words
University of Richmond
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Research paper
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Commonly referred to as VPN is an extension of a private network across a public network which enables the user of the VPN to send and receive data across the public network or the shared network in a connection which acts as if their computers are directly connected to a private network. This leads to a secure connection among the users, increases functionality for the applications running on the private network as well as easy management of the users in the private network. A private network in the internet addressing architecture is a network that uses private addressing space, the addressing follows the standards set by RFC 1918 for the internet protocol version 4 (IPV4) and the RFC 4139 standards for the protocol version (IPV6) (Chari et al., 2015). The private network addressing are commonly used in offices, enterprise Local Area Network or at home. This is a technology which was created to provide a safe and encrypted connection, over the less secure network such as the internet. The security threats over different internets can result to numerous dangers but the essence of the VPN technology the risk is lowered. The main reason for the development of this technology is mainly due to cooperate connections. This technology as will be covered later enables users and office branches of a big company to remotely access the company applications and resources in a much more secure manner. To ensure the security is critical in the VPN technology, the users must use different authentication methods which involve passwords, tokens, and other different but unique identification methods while gaining access to the VPN (Chari et al., 2015). For the data transferred via the VPN then it travels through secure tunnels to avoid any security threats.

VPN is created to enable a virtual point to point connection via the use of dedicated connections which are referred to as virtual tunneling protocols (Yadav, 2015). These protocols are also referred to as the traffic encryption.

The figure above is a diagrammatic representation of a VPN with different connections to the head office of a particular company from users in different regional offices in different geographic locations as well as remote users and roaming users away from the head office but through the internet (Yadav, 2015). The diagram gives a simple idea of what an internet virtual private network is.

Types of Virtual Private Network

The first technology of VPNs, the data networks gave access to VPN styles remote connections via the dial-up modems or the leased lines connections which back then utilized frame relay and asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) virtual circuits. All these were provided by the telecommunication carriers which owned and operated them. These networks were not considered the complete VPN due to their mode of data transferred; they passively secured the data which was being transferred over the internet by the creation of logical data stream. The technology was very expensive and had a low bandwidth (Yadav, 2015). This led to the current technology where the VPNs are based on both IP and IP/Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) networks. This has brought about the great improvement in relation to the increase in bandwidth and a significant reduction in the cost of implementation and running. The providers of the technology being the fiber optic networks and Digital Subscriber Lines (DSL).

There are two main types of VPNs, the remote- access VPNs and the site to site VPNs. Remote Access VPNs allows the users to connect to a private network and access its services and resources remotely, for this type of connection the user connects to the private network over the internet and the connection is completely private and secure (VaN & Gray, 2014). Remote access VPN is effective for the business and use at homes since the connection involved in both the places involves the access to sensitive services which requires security and privacy. Excellent illustrations of the type of VPN is a corporate employee who is traveling uses a VPN to connect to the company's private network and remotely access the files or services on the private network, and one is certain the connection is secure. Another example will be a home user uses a VPN service to bypass regional restrictions on the internet as well as blocked websites.

The other type of VPN is the Site- to Site VPN, this type of VPN is also referred to as the router to router VPN, it is commonly used in the corporate world. The companies with different offices in different geographical locations use the type of VPN to connect to the network of one office to the other office in a different location. And when multiple offices are connected in this network under the same company he VPN type is referred to as intranet based VPN. But when the company uses the site to site VPN to connect to other companies it is referred to as Extranet based VPN. These two form the two sub-classifications of the Site- to Site VPN (VaN & Gray, 2014). The site to site VPN creates a virtual bridge between the networks in the different geographical offices or companies and connects them via the internet and upholding the important role of the network which is privacy and security within the different communications in the network. As seen site to site VPN is based on router to router communication, the VPN type one router in the network is the VPN client while the other router is the VPN server. To ensure security in the VPN for the communication between the routers take place the first step is an authentication between the first router and the second router and after a successful authentication, the communication takes place.

The VPN systems can b classified by different features such as the protocols used to tunnel the traffic, the level of security provided by the system, the number of simultaneous connections, the OSI later they present to the network they are connecting such as layer 2 circuit of the OSI layer or the third layer, another classification factor being the type of topology of connection od the network such as site to site or the remote access and finally the tunnels termination point location, for example, customer edge on the network provider edge (Snader, 2015).

Virtual Private Network Security Mechanism

The VPNs do not entirely make the network's operations anonymous, but they do provide security and privacy over the internet. The VPN security models provide confidentiality of the data being transferred over the network for example if an attack over the network traffic is to occur and sniffing happens the attacker would not be able to see the data since it is transferred as encrypted data (Snader, 2015). Also, the VPN security mechanism provides sender authentication which helps prevent unauthorized users from accessing the VPN. And finally, the VPN ensures message integrity by detecting any instance of tampering with the message during transmission of the message in the network. Also in the process of ensuring security of the network different VPN protocols are involved.

Types of Virtual Private Network Protocols

There are different VPN protocols where each of these protocols offers different features and different levels of security in the network; Internet Protocol Security or IPSec is a protocol that is used to secure communication across IP network such as the VPN (Snader, 2015). The protocol secures the internet communication protocol by authenticating each communication session in the network as well as encrypting any data packet being transmitted during the connection. IPSec works in two modes over the network, the transport mode and the tunneling mode, which is aimed at protecting data transfer from one network to the other network. The first mode (transport mode) encrypts the message while the second mode (tunneling Mode) encrypts the entire data packet. It can also be used alongside other protocols to strengthen the security of the network (Snader, 2015).

Other different protocols involve the; Layer 2 tunneling protocol (L2TP), secure socket layer (SSL) and the Transport Layer Security (TSL), the point to point Tunneling Layer (PPTP), the OpenVPN which is important in the opening of creation od site to site and point to point connection by the use of custom security protocols based on the previously seen protocols SSL and the TLS and finally the protocol Secure Shell (SSH), this protocol creates the VPN tunnel through which the data is transferred over the network and ensure that the created tunnel is encrypted for security and privacy of the data to be transferred via the network (Singh & Gupta, 2016). These connections are created by the SSH clients and the data is transferred then from a local port on the remote computer over the created tunnel.

Advantages of Using a Virtual Private Network

As seen from the introduction of VPNs and a detail description of its functionality it is clear to say that the system has brought with it a number of advantages and on the flip side a few problems. In this section, we will get to cover most of the advantages associated with the implementation of a VPN. One of the main advantages of the VPN is the security and privacy it offers. Data transferred over the network is highly encrypted and secure (Singh & Gupta, 2016). The data is transferred while encrypted to reduce the chances of an attack over the traffic and on arrival then the data is decrypted. This ensures the confidentiality of the message is secure. From the discussed section on the different types of protocol, we have seen that not only is the message encrypted but the tunnel through which the data packet is transferred. All these ensure that the security and privacy of the data over the network is highly maintained. This has been one of the main reasons why most of the individuals, as well as companies, prefer using VPNs since their security over the internet is well protected (Singh & Gupta, 2016).

The remote control which is a main feature of the VPN is another major advantage. This is another main reason as to why companies deploy the VPN system within the company network. It enables users or the employees of the company to remotely access the company files or services from their homes while not in the office hence they can operate from any part of the world despite. This improves the productivity of the company since the employees are not restricted to work only form the office (Singh & Gupta, 2016). This ensures that all the employees of the company deliver what is expected of them as well. It is accurate to imply that the VPN improves the productivity of the company. The VPN also can be used to share files and resources within a group of users in a particular VPN especially during different project where the members of a particular project are not in the same place, they can comfortably share the information, files as well as different resources in relation to the project and wit the assured of security and privacy of their work.

VPNs provide online anonymity, while working with a VPN on can browse in complete anonymity and unlike other applications used to hide users identity over the internet, the VPN have added advantage since the not only access the websites like the hide IP software but the VPN enables one to browse web applications as well as the websites in complete anonymity. This is also the main reason as to why most users apart from companies, have started using VPN especially the individuals (Rekhter et al., 2016). The VPNs are also great for accessing blocked websites and bypassing of internet filters. Some websites are blocked in different geographic regions or happen to have different filters which block users from accessing these sites. B...

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