Virtual Private Networking: a little bit of history
Before the advent of the Internet, all the communication in the US was performed via telephone system and went through central hubs. If anything happened with some of them (nuclear attack, for instance), the communication infrastructure would be broken and communication between cities would be disabled.
During the times of the Cold War, with all the arm race and threats of nuclear attacks poised over the USA, this seemed pretty feasible and alarming, so the U.S militaries found the solution and the Internet was invented (Arpanet at that time). It is a self-repairing system. The communication goes through a set of routers. If anything happens with some of them, the system will automatically restructure itself through another set of routers. But the Internet is a public network and thus anyone can hack into it and take any data they want. This poses a huge security problem which was eventually resolved too. To protect sensitive data VPN (Virtual Private Network) was created. It allows you to connect securely computers and networks.
VPN: how does it work?
VPN uses a tunneling protocol. It sets a tunnel and encrypts the data traveling inside the tunnel. If the tunnel ‘feels’ that someone is trying to intrude into it, it will shut itself down and recreate itself through another set of routers.
- Authentication (you have to provide credentials)
- Tunnel (tunneling protocol is used)
- Encryption (the data are encrypted, so even if somebody manages to grab them, they will be absolutely useless)
Different kinds of protocols
- Point to point tunnel protocols. They are not recommended to use since they are considered outdated and not secure
- IP security (IPsec protocols) are mostly used in enterprise custom software development when a server sits in the organization or in the office and employees want to reach some data remotely. For instance, IBM use them as their encryption protocols
- SSL encryption protocols are employed mostly for average users
- It allows to connect securely computers and networks
- It allows you to act as if you were local (you can access programs which are forbidden in some countries, for instance, Skype)
- Bad wiring in your building will affect the quality of work of VPN
- Old routers may not connect to VPN (if they don’t have VPN pass-through)
- VPN is a client-server technology and you should make sure that the vendor of client corresponds to the vendor of server
- Your Internet upload speed really matters