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Understanding the Technology Behind VPN

VPNs are a technology used widely in today’s age of information. VPNs are primarily for telecommuting (Working from home) purposes. To understand VPNs it is important to understand the technologies behind using VPN. In essence, a person has their computer at home, and access to the internet, they need files at the office, so they log into their work network by means of software that connects to the VPN, and logs into it. Once connected, they are able to access whatever files or applications are available on that network. That is the gist of it; however, it is much more complicated than that. The long answer requires a small tutorial in networking and security protocols.

Computers in a business linked together are considered a network. Connecting and governing these computers is a server, which is a computer that filter information going to and from the other computers, guards and distribute files useful for the day-to-day running of the business, and connects the computers to the internet through a router. Digital communication devices, such as computers, have a machine address, this is written in stone, or more importantly on the circuit board of the device and cannot be changed, possibly faked by very cleverly written software but not truly changed. Moreover, every device that accesses the internet or an intranet has an IP address (Internet Protocol) which serves as their internet phone number. The network server knows these computers by means of their machine addresses, IP addresses, and log in profile of the user and allows them access its files. Moreover, every device that accesses the internet or an intranet has an IP address, the IP address is like an internet phone number.

The network in question has the protection of a firewall, which is security software that has a host of security protocols that prevent outside access to it. However, a person who for whatever reason cannot make it in to work but still has work to do may need access to those files and that server. This happens through a VPN. Therefore a device offsite connects to the internet and then to the network servers by their IP address with software preinstalled to properly identify itself to the server; these servers verify the device through the security software to authenticate the password used and the machine address of the device and sometimes the IP address.

Once accomplished all communication between the server and the offsite device is encrypted for security purposes, the device can only understand this encrypted communication and the server by means of security software installed on both devices. In this manner, only the intended offsite device accesses confidential company information distributed by the server. This article has used the word protocols quite often but not really gone into detail. Protocols are defined as clearly defined rules and regulations that must be followed. This is no different in the world of information; the security protocols in place for a VPN are a set of rules followed to make the connection. The password must be correct, the machine address must be correct; the user may have to answer security questions that will also have to be correct.

The device in question may have to have software on it to properly encrypt and decrypt information sent to the server for its protection. All of these conditions would have to be met for the connection to be made. The VPN technology uses several security protocols. Internet Protocol Security, Transport Layer Security, Datagram Transport Layer, Microsoft Point-to-Point Encryption, Microsoft Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol, Multi-Path Virtual Private Network, and Secure Shell VPN. These are used in many different server platforms for the purpose of secure connectivity and continue to evolve and grow to keep the information transmitted through VPNs secure. VPNs provide a secure and safe process for secure access of information.

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