Virtual Private Networks

VPN Overview

VPN is short for a Virtual Private Network. Just like with other virtualized services, a virtual network replicates a physical network using software. VPNs allow users to create a virtual network using physical nodes that exist on another network regardless of geographical location.

VPNs are popular with corporations to connect offices together that are in different locations. Also, workers who traveled could connect to their corporate networks using a VPN. Nowadays, VPNs are popular with the average internet user who wants privacy online or they use a VPN to bypass restrictions on content.

There are two primary types of VPN connections.

  1. Remote Access VPN - used to access a remote network or to virtually place a user in a different location on the internet

    1. Commercial VPNs use this method to place a customer on their network.

    2. A remote worker uses this type to connect to their office network.

  2. Site-to-site VPN - connects LANs in different locations

    1. Companies use this type to create larger corporate networks.

There are different types of VPN protocols. Here are five that are used commonly.

  1. OpenVPN

  2. L2TP/IPsec – Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol

  3. SSTP – Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol

  4. IKEv2 - IKEv2/IPsec – Internet Key Exchange

  5. PPTP – Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol

OpenVPN

OpenVPN is commercial software and a protocol maintained by the OpenVPN company. OpenVPN is cross-platform and can run on embedded devices, such as off-the-shelf routers. OpenVPN is available in two versions.

  1. OpenVPN Community Edition - An open-source and free version

  2. OpenVPN Access Server (OpenVPN-AS) - Based on the Community Edition, but provides additional paid and proprietary features that simplify the rapid deployment of a VPN remote-access solution.

TechAdvisor lists these advantages of OpenVPN:

  • It is open source. This means that its code is open to the public, so it has been inspected, vetted and tested by many different people and organisations.

  • It features military-grade, 256-bit encryption and can use multiple different encryption techniques and algorithms.

  • It’s extremely secure, and very flexible.

  • It can be used on almost any platform, including Windows, Linux and macOS as well as Android and iOS.