What is VPN? & Should You Always Use A VPN?

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Virtual Private Network

Watching the Internet grow is like tracking a wild animal. It has boundaries and few rules to cage it. It has linked people and organizations otherwise physically separated and has proven to be an inexpensive, reliable means for inter-organizational communications and data sharing.

Millions of users are connected to the Internet. It has become an ideal means for information retrieval and exchange.

Corporations have found the Internet to be a fertile area to make money and an easy place to advertise goods and services.

The Internet is also an efficient and opportune medium for illegal activities such as data tampering, eavesdropping, and theft.

Because of the inherent wildness of the beast, companies and organizations around the world have concluded that data security is a fundamental requirement. **Secure VPN (a virtual private network) ** solutions using encryption, certification, firewalls, and access control, present an attractive option for data security needs and represent a growing sector of the network security market.

Should you use a VPN?

Managers who recommend a move to a VPN solution do so because of the increased need for data security and reduced networking costs.

On the security side, a VPN keeps unwanted users out of private computer networks and encrypts all information going out of a local network.

It builds a wall between a company's private network and the outside world, via the Internet or no secure backbone and hides information leaving the network so that unwanted users are unable to read or modify it.

From a savings standpoint, VPNs represent a cost-effective means of communicating over the Internet for geographically separated employers and business partners.

Using the Internet is far less expensive than private leased lines, Frame Relay, or ISDN networks.

VPNs allow network managers to increase in a cost-efficient manner the span of corporate networks, remote network users to securely and easily access their corporate enterprise, corporations to securely communicate with their business partners and customers, and service providers to grow their business by providing substantial incremental bandwidth and value-added services.

How secure are VPNs?

With the arrival of IPSec (IP Security Protocol), managers have a standardized means of implementing security for VPNs. IPSec is a protocol suite- a set of Internet Protocol (IP) extensions that provides security services at the network level.

IPSec technology is based on cryptographic technologies, making possible very strong data authentication and privacy guarantees.

Furthermore, all of the encryption and authentication algorithms and security protocols used in IPSec are well studied and have survived years of scrutiny. Consequently, the user can be confident that the IPSec facility indeed provides strong security.

IP Security Protocol can be added to routers or firewalls owned and operated by an organization or company. This tool gives a network manager complete control over the security aspects of the VPN.

Another method is to seek a solution from a service provider. A service provider can simplify the job of planning, implementing, and maintaining Internet-based VPNs for secure access to network resources and secure communication among sites.

Which Types of VPN?

Virtual private networks are of numerous kinds, however, they could all be classified under two key types.

While individuals are more acquainted with remote access VPN, organizations are familiar with site-to-site VPN connections.

Remote access VPN

This VPN is the most popular of the two types of virtual private networks. Widely used by individuals, the remote access VPN ensures users are connected to a private network by the method of client and server.

A VPN client, usually software, acts as a client to each of the users of the network. At a central end is the server, and it ensures that connections between the clients are secured under the network.

One key advantage of using a remote access VPN service is its convenience. With the right software, any individual could securely browse through online content, access restricted resources, and prevent the leak of personal data.

Site-to-Site VPN

Site-to-Site VPN is engaged by organizations large enough for connection through remote access VPN.

VPN services of this nature provide privacy for connections between multiple users, conveniently allowing for a private share of each other’s resources.

Site-to-Site VPN connections are of two types: an intranet-based one, and another which is extranet-based. Intranet-based Site-to-Site VPN connection allows for an interactive share of data between users within a local area network.

Extranet-based Site-to-Site VPN on the other hand allows for information sharing between local area networks, simultaneously having their separate individual LANs secured.

What does a VPN hide?

Individuals make use of virtual private networks to keep their online activities private. These private networks are also applied so that online resources otherwise restricted from them could be accessed.

This is ensured by changing the IP address of the device connected to the network, such that it reflects that of another location given permission to such resources.

The prices of VPN

There are various varieties of VPN providers delivering services that are either free or paid. While free VPN services are discouraged due to concerns of user data logging, the paid ones are usually expensive. On average, individuals have to pay about $10 each month to secure their network connection under a VPN.

Organizations need not rely upon basic VPN for its extensive use in an organized industry, and as such, corporate VPN needs to be deployed. The cost of this could go beyond $400 per annum.

VPN and user data

Running a VPN service attracts various expenses and that demands lots of money. Due to this, several VPN providers charge for their services, but there are several others that offer these services at a zero fee. One would presume that these services are maintained from earnings from ads on those software’s, however concerns are that your data and activity could be logged, and subsequently sold off to organizations in need of them.

Paid VPN services might not be any better in respecting user data. Paying for the service doesn’t automatically make them honest, as such, it is advised to employ the services of VPN providers which don't log user’s data of any form.

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