Friday, November 23, 2007

What is a Virtual Private Network?

A Virtual Private Network, or VPN, is a way of using the Internet to provide remote users with secure access to their network. Data is scrambled as it's sent through the Internet ensuring privacy. In other words a business which may be located in New York can use the company's network to send encrypted information to different branches of the business located in other parts of the country.
Information doesn't have to be sent office to office either. An individual choosing to work at home can have all of the same amenities (programs, email, etc) as working in the office, thanks to a VPN. Because all data is scrambled prior to being sent, and decrypted once it reaches its destination, there's no fear of interception since only authorized users can view the information.
With a VPN, data is carried over the Internet through a process called tunneling. Tunneling is when a package is placed within another package before it's encrypted and sent to its destination. The path in which the packet travels is called a tunnel.
A firewall can be set up to prevent a barrier between a private network and the Internet. The firewall can be set up to only accept certain information and also reject packets containing unwanted information. For purposes of security, the firewall should be set up prior to installing a VPN.
The Benefits of a VPN are:
- Increased Productivity- Improved Security- Lower operational costs- Simplified Network Topology- Opportunities for Global Networking
While there are plenty of pros to setting up and using a Virtual Private Network, there's also a con or two. For instance, someone with in-depth knowledge of network security and dealing with VPNs will have to be on staff or specialized training will be required to ensure things run smoothly. Also, different vendors might provide different technologies so not all networks may be compatible. For sure there are kinks to be worked out. Once they are however, it would be worth it to look into Virtual Private Networking for your business - especially if the benefits outweigh the risks.
Source: Free Articles

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