VPNs might seem challenging to understand at first, but actually, they’re pretty easy to use.

So let’s just unveil everything about this ultimate tool – what are its significant functions, why you should use it and how they all work in sync.

On top of this, we’ll also provide you the information on some of the best VPNs so that you can choose wisely for your needs.

What is VPN and how it works?

As the name suggests, a Virtual Private Network is a linking process that helps to add security and privacy to private and public networks such as WiFi Hotspots and the internet. Most organizations use VPN to protect their sensitive data.

Let us break it down a little further:

A VPN is a service that helps you access the web safely by routing your connection through a server and concealing your online actions.

How does VPN provide privacy?

A Virtual Private Network provides privacy by changing the primary IP address of the user with one from the VPN provider. Subscribers can get an IP address through any gateway city that the VPN service provides.

For illustration: let’s say you live in California, but with a VPN you’ll be seen accessing your system from New York, Seattle, or any other gateway cities.

Talking about gateway city leads us to the next question, which is:

What does VPN gateway mean?

A VPN gateway or VPN router is a networking device that links two or more devices or networks together in an extensive VPN infrastructure. 

It is formulated to connect multiple VPNs and shorten the communication or connection between multiple remote sites, networks or devices.

According to techopedia, “A VPN gateway can be a router, server, firewall or similar device with internetworking and data transmission capabilities. However, in most cases, a VPN gateway is a physical router device.

The VPN gateway is generally installed on the core VPN site or infrastructure. The VPN gateway is configured to pass, block or route VPN traffic. It provides core VPN-specific networking services such as IP address assignment and management, dynamic and static routing and the maintenance of routing tables.”

How many types of VPN are there?

There’re two types of VPNs namely:

  1. Remote Access:  A remote-access VPN allows individual users to set up secure connections with a distant computer network or a computer device outside the premise. The users can access these resources on that network like they were directly linked with the network’s servers.  These devices are called endpoints and may be laptops, tablets, or smartphones.

(Place it on the side of the text)

Mostly large firms having hundreds of salesperson in the field needs a remote-access VPN. This type of VPN is also called virtual private dial-up network (VPDN) because, in its earliest form, a remote access VPN needed dialing into a server with an analog telephone system..

There are mainly two elements needed in a remote-access VPN out of which the first one is a network access server abbreviated as NAS usually pronounced as “nazz” also known as a media gateway or a remote-access server (RAS). The NAS is what user connects to from the internet to use a VPN. The user has to provide valid credentials to sign in to the VPN.

NAS uses either its verification process or an independent verifying server already running on the internet to verify the user’s credentials.

The second element of remote-access VPNs – client software – the requirement of the software to set-up and maintain a connection to the VPN on the computers of the users or let’s say the employees to use the VPN.

There is already built-in software that connects to remote access VPNs in most of the operating systems today, though some VPNs still ask users to install a particular application instead.

The client software builds the tunneled links to a NAS which the user signifies by its IP address. The software also operates the coding needed to secure the connection. We’ll define the tunneling and coding later in this article.

Big corporate houses or organizations especially with expert IT staff buys, installs and maintains personalized remote-access VPNs. Apart from this there are many enterprise service providers (ESP) through which businesses can outsource their remote-access. The ESP establishes a NAS for the business and maintains that NAS to perform smoothly.

So here we got to know that remote-access VPN is great for individual employees, right? But what about the entire branch offices with hundreds or even countless employees?

This makes us discuss about another type of VPN used to keep business connected LAN-to-LAN.

  • Site-to-site: With the help of site-to-site VPN offices in multiple fixed locations can set-up the secure connections with each other over a public network like the internet. Site-to-site VPN expands the network of the company so that employees from one location can access the computer resource available at other location.

The best example of a company in need of a site-to-site VPN is a corporation having dozens of branch offices across the world.

There are two types of site-to-site VPNs:

•    Intranet-based – Intranet VPN helps in connecting each separate LAN to a single WAN, especially if a company has one or more than one separate remote locations that they want to connect in one standard private network.

•    Extranet-based – If a company is in partnership or tie-up with any other company, then creating an extranet VPN helps connect those companies’ LAN.

This extranet VPN enables the companies to work closely in a secure and common shared network environment at the same time blocking access to their separate intranets.

The objective of a site-to-site VPN differs from the remote-access VPN, but it can use some of the same software and equipment. Generally, a site-to-site VPN eradicates the requirement for each computer device to run VPN client software just like it was on a remote-access VPN.     

Now that you know the two types of VPNs, let’s understand how your data stays secure while traveling across a VPN or how does the VPN work?

Keeping VPN Traffic in the Tunnel

Tunneling is something on which most VPNs depend on to create a private network reaching all over the internet. First, you’ve to understand that the internet works by breaking each data file into a series of packets and send it to a computer connected to the internet.

Tunneling is the method of placing an entire packet inside another packet before it gets transported over the internet. The outer packet hides the contents from public view and makes sure that the packet travels inside a virtual tunnel.

This layering of packets is called encapsulation. Networking devices or computers at each end of the tunnel are called tunnel interfaces that encapsulate outgoing packets and open the incoming packets. Users at one end of the tunnel and IT expert at one or both ends of the tunnel configure the tunnel interfaces which they’re liable to use a tunneling protocol.

Also known as the encapsulation protocol, a tunneling protocol is the standard method to encapsulate packets [source: Microsoft]. We’ll discuss the different tunneling protocols later in this article.

The main objective of the tunneling protocol is to coat the packet and provide additional security to protect each packet throughout its journey on the internet. The packet travels in the same transport protocol it would’ve used without the tunnel; this protocol determines the way each computer sends and receives the data over its ISP. The inner packets always maintain the passenger protocol like internet protocol (IP), which shows the way it moves on the LANs at both the ends of the tunnel. The tunneling protocol, which is used for encapsulation protects the packet on its journey over the internet by providing an added layer of security.

 Think of the relationships between protocols in this way;

Think of tunneling as you get a computer delivered to your address by a shipping company. The vendor sending you the computer packs the computer (passenger protocol) in cardboard (tunneling protocol). Shippers then keep that box on a shipping van (transport protocol) at the vendor’s warehouse (one tunnel interface). The van (transport protocol) travels over the roads (internet) to your home (the other tunnel interface) and deliver the computer. You unpack the box (tunneling protocol) and take out the computer (passenger protocol).

Now that we’ve understood the data in the tunnel, let’s look at the types of Virtual Private Network (VPN) Protocols:

A virtual private network is only as good as its encryption capabilities.

Encryption is the method of encoding data to make it suitable for only the computer with the right decoder to read and use it. Encryption is used to protect files on the computer or e-mails that are confidential. An encryption key commands the computer to perform the suitable computations on data in order to encrypt or decrypt it. Symmetric-key encryption or public-key encryption is the most common form of encryption.

  • In symmetric-key encryption, all computers (or users) share the same key helpful in both encryption and decryption of the message.
  • In public-key encryption, all computers (or users) have a public-private key pair. Where one computer uses its private key to encrypt a message, and another computer uses the equivalent public key to decrypt that message.

The computers at both the ends of the tunnel encrypt the data coming into the tunnel and decrypt it at the other end in a VPN. However, a VPN needs more than just a pair of keys to implement encryption. That is the point when protocol comes in light. A site-to-site VPN could use either internet protocol security (IPSec) or generic routing encapsulation (GRE). GRE gives the structure on which the passenger protocol is based for transport over the internet protocol (IP). This structure involves data on what type of packet you’re encapsulating and the link between sender and receiver.

According to how stuff works

IPSec is a widely used protocol for securing traffic on IP networks, including the internet. IPSec can encrypt data between various devices, including router to router, firewall to router, desktop to router, and desktop to server. IPSec consists of two sub-protocols which provide the instructions a VPN needs to secure its packets:

  • Encapsulated Security Payload (ESP) encrypts the packet’s payload (the data it’s transporting) with a symmetric key.
  • Authentication Header (AH) uses a hashing operation on the packet header to help hide certain packet information (like the sender’s identity) until it gets to its destination.

Networked devices can use IPSec in one of the two encryption modes. In transport mode, devices encrypt the data roaming among them. In tunnel mode, the devices establish a virtual tunnel between two networks. You might’ve guessed till yet that VPNs use IPSec in tunnel mode with IPSec ESP and IPSec AH in collaboration.

In case of a remote-access VPN, tunneling usually depends on Point-to-point Protocol (PPP) which is one section of the native protocols used by the internet. Though, more precisely, remote-access VPNs use one of the three protocols based on PPP:

  • L2F (Layer 2 Forwarding) – It’s a media-independent tunneling protocol build by Cisco Systems. The Layer 2 Forwarding (L2F) protocol tunnels data-link layer structure in these protocols as Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP) or Serial Line Internet Protocol (SLIP) in order to create virtual private networks (VPNs) over a public network like the internet.

While on the server side, L2F can be used with user authentication or similar features with the help of Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service (RADIUS), active allocation of addresses, and quality of service (QoS).

L2F can be put into service in Cisco routers via Cisco’s Internetwork Operating System (IOS).

How it works?

On using PPP with L2F, for instance, PPP gives the links between a dial-up client and the network access server (NAS) that gets the call. A PPP connection started by a client expires at a NAS located at a PPP service provider, ideally an Internet service provider (ISP).

Not only this L2F enables the termination point of the connection to be expanded further on than NAS to a remote destination node to ensure that the client’s connection seems to be directed to the remote node rather than that of the NAS. The NAS in L2F has an elementary function that is to project or forward PPP structures from the client to the remote node. This remote node is known as the home gateway in Cisco networking terminology.

  • PPTP (Point-to-point Tunneling Protocol) – A data-link layer protocol for wide area networks (WANs) relying on the Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP) and established by Microsoft that allows network traffic for encapsulated and routed over an unsecured public network like the internet. Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) enables the development of virtual private networks (VPNs), which tunnel TCP/IP traffic through the internet.

Distant users can securely access the corporate local area network (LAN) source with the help of the internet despite using direct modem connections over the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) or dedicated leased-line connections.

How It Works?

PPTP is an extension of PPP and is works on PPP negotiation, verification, and encryption system. PPTP encapsulates Internet Protocol (IP), Internetwork Packet Exchange (IPX), or NetBEUI packets into PPP frames, making a “tunnel” for secure communication across a LAN or WAN link. The PPTP tunnel is responsible for verification and data encryption and ensures that it is safe to transmit data over unsecured networks.

PPTP supports two types of tunneling:

  • Voluntary tunneling:

Commenced by the PPTP client (such as Microsoft Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT, or Windows 2000). Voluntary tunneling doesn’t need support from an Internet service provider (ISP) or network devices like bridges.

  • Compulsory tunneling:

Commenced by a PPTP server at an ISP, network access servers (NAS’s) or routers support this type of tunneling.

No matter whatever type of tunneling you implement, you have to use the PPTP server. Big corporate houses can establish dedicated PPTP-enabled servers on their networks with the help of Windows NT Server.

NOTE

Microsoft’s Remote Access Service (RAS) for Windows NT supports PPTP through both dedicated and dial-up internet connections. In order to enable Windows NT Server to perform as a PPTP server, click Network in Control Panel, click the Advanced button on the TCP/IP property sheet, and choose Enable PPTP Filtering.

TIP

Since PPTP supports multiple network protocols comprising IP, IPX, and NetBEUI, two computers can set-up a tunnel over the Internet only if they’re operating the same network protocol. For troubleshooting PPTP over a TCP/IP connection, use ping to decide if you’re connected to your PPTP server, and make sure that you’re not having an active Winsock Proxy client that might be redirecting PPTP packets to a proxy server in place of your VPN.

  • Internet Protocol Security – A protocol that negotiates and controls the security of transmissions over a TCP/IP internetwork. Internet Protocol Security (IPSec) describes the metrics for data encryption and data integrity at the level of Internet Protocol (IP) datagrams and utilized to encrypt the transmission of data and confirms that the data derived from the sender and wasn’t changed in transit.

IPSec encrypts data at the IP level and implements tunneling to send data over the internet and among intranets securely. IPSec is a rapidly improving Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standard and is used in the Microsoft Windows 2000 operating system.

How it works?

IPSec is used at the transport layer of the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) reference model and secures IP and higher protocols applying security policies that can be configured to fulfill the needs of protecting users, sites, applications, or the organization in general.

IPSec necessarily fits as an additional layer under the TCP/IP protocol stack and is managed by security policies installed on each machine and by an encryption strategy dealt between the sender and the receiver. These security policies include a collection of filters with associated behaviors. When the IP address, port number, and protocol of an IP packet match a specific filter, the corresponding behavior is implemented to the packet.

In Windows 2000, these security policies are made and assigned at the domain level or for individual hosting using the IPSec Management snap-in for the Microsoft Management Console (MMC).

IPSec policies consist of rules that state the security needs for different forms of communication. These rules are used to begin and manage secure communication based on the nature of the IP traffic, the source of the traffic, and its destination. These rules define verification and negotiation procedures, tunneling factors, and connection types.

A protocol structure called ISAKMP/Oakley is used to establish a security association (secure communication session) between two computers. ISAKMP/Oakley involves a set of cryptographic algorithms but is also scalable to support user-defined encryption algorithms. At the time of the negotiation process, agreement is moved on the verification and security methods which should be used, and a common key is generated for data encryption. IPSec supports two different types of security associations:

  • Authentication Header (AH) protocol:

It gives user verification and security from replay attacks and supports data verification and integrity functions. AH allows the recipient to assure the identity of the sender and that the data has not been altered or modified at the time of transmission. AH doesn’t provide any encryption of the data itself. AH information is embedded in the IP packet’s heard and can be implemented separately or with the Encapsulating Security Payload (ESP) protocol.

  • Encapsulating Security Payload (ESP) protocol:

This type of protocol encapsulates and encrypts user data to deliver full data confidentiality or privacy. ESP also involves optional authentication and security from replay attacks and can be implemented either by itself or with AH. ESP information is also embedded in the IP packet’s header.

Devices and software configured to support IPSec can apply either public key encryption with the help of keys provided by certified authorities (CAs) or already shared keys for private encryption.

  • SSL and TSL – Since the SSL protocol itself has been deprecated by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and replaced by TLS, SSL VPNs operation on modern browsers now uses TLS for encrypting and verifying data transmitted across the VPN.

SSL VPNs allow users to access restricted network sources remotely through a secure and verifying pathway by encrypting all network traffic and making it appear that the user is on the local network without considering the users’ geographic location.

The major reason to use an SSL VPN product is to block unauthorized parties from trespassing or spying on network communications and stealing or modifying sensitive data. SSL VPN systems offer a secure and flexible alternative for enterprise employees, telecommuters and contractors to remotely connect to private enterprise networks.

Business houses can buy a stand-alone appliance that performs solely as an SSL VPN server; a grouped device, such as a next-generation firewall or unified threat management product that offers SSL VPN capability; or as a service with the help of a virtual SSL VPN appliance to use an SSL VPN.

How SSL VPNs work?

SSL VPNs depends on the TLS protocol, which has taken place of the older SSL protocol just to secure remote access. SSL VPNs help verified users to set-up secure connections to internal HTTP and HTTPS services through standard web browsers or client applications that allow direct access to networks.

Basically, there are two main types of SSL VPNs: VPN portal and VPN tunnel. An SSL portal VPN makes one SSL VPN link at a time to remote websites. After having verified via a process supported by the gateway, remote users can access the SSL VPN gateway with their web browser.

An SSL tunnel VPN allows users to securely access more than one network services through standard web browsers along with other protocols and applications especially those which are not web-based.  The VPN tunnel is a circuit created between the remote user and the VPN server which can connect to one or more remote websites, network services or sources at once on the client’s behalf. The SSL tunnel VPN needs the web browser to manage active content and provide the support that is not accessible in other ways through an SSL portal VPN.

•    Open VPN – The Open VPN Access Server is a commercial SSL VPN product. It provides security to access remotely for enterprises by moving network traffic through an encrypted tunnel. This phenomenon helps protect the traffic from getting spied or tampered that could disturb the confidentiality or integrity of the data being communicated. This is especially very important when traffic is moving over unsecured networks like the internet.

The Open VPN SSL VPN is a software package which is at present available in six varieties of Linux: Red Hat, Fedora, CentOS, Ubuntu, Debian, and openSUSE.

Open VPN Technologies is the company that makes the Open VPN SSL VPN software which also gives an OpenVPN Access Server Virtual Appliance in two formats: Microsoft Virtual Hard Disk and VMware ESXi.

Additionally, there’s the Open VPN Access Server Cloud Machine, which gives the same SSL VPN solution, but in a cloud-based architecture for Amazon and Cloud Sigma clouds.

 

Client and authentication support for the OpenVPN Access Server

 

The Open VPN Access Server product has a different approach to client support. The vendor gives an Open VPN hook up a client for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux devices natively.

Since the Open VPN SSL VPN depends on open source software making anyone free to make their own client software for use with the Open VPN SSL VPN, so hold on additional platforms is possible. The vendor affirms that there are Open VPN clients present for Android and iOS devices.

Open VPN Access Server supports both local and remote authentication options. For verification, it can use a local database for authentication, or integrate with present enterprise authentication solutions like RADIUS and Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP). Enterprises can also establish new verification modules to support other enterprise verification platforms and services just like the possibility of personalized client software. It can also include single sign-on by taking benefit of Open VPN Access Server’s open source roots.

Open VPN SSL VPN software also supports some network access control features like authenticating the presence of antivirus software.

Open VPN Access software supports two concurrent client connections. More concurrent users can be involved by buying licenses per year per concurrent users with a purchase of 10 more concurrent users.

·         Secure Shell (SSH) – SSH, also called Secure Shell or Secure Socket Shell, is a network protocol that provides users, especially system administrators, a secure method to access a computer over an unsecured network. SSH also implies to the suite of utilities that apply the SSH protocol.

Not only this but Secure Shell also provides reliable verification and encrypted data communications between two computers linking over an open network like the internet. Network administrators hugely use SSH for handling systems and applications remotely enabling them to log into another computer over a network, perform commands and move files from one computer to another.

SSH implies both to the cryptographic network protocol and to the suite of utilities that applies that protocol. SSH uses the client-server model, connecting a secure shell client application, the end at which the session is shown, with an SSH server, the end at which the session performs. SSH applications often involve support for application protocols implemented for terminal emulation or file transfers.

You can also use SSH to create secure tunnels for other application protocols, for illustration, to securely run X Window System graphical sessions remotely. An SSH server, by default, follows the standard Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) pot 22.

SSH depends more often on public key pairs to verify hosts to each other while you can use SSH with an ordinary user ID and password as credentials. Individual users should still use their user I and password or any other verification methods to connect to the remote host itself, but the local machine and the remote machine verify separately to each other.

This is achieved by generating a distinct public key pair for each host in the communication; a single session needs tow public key pairs: one public key pair to verify the remote machine to the local machine, and a second public key pair to verify the local machine to the remote machine.

SSH connections can secure many different types of communications between a local machine and a remote host which includes secure remote access to resources, remote execution of commands, delivery of software patches and updates and other administrative or management tasks.

Secure Shell capabilities

Functions that SSH provide involve:

  • Provides  secure remote access to SSH-enabled network systems or devices, for both users and automated processes;
  • secure and interactive file transfer sessions;
  • automated and secured file transfers;
  • secure issuance of commands on remote devices or systems; and
  • Secure handling of network infrastructure mechanism.

SSH can be used interactively to allow terminal sessions, and can be used in place of the less secure Telnet program. SSH can also enable programs and systems to remotely and securely access data and other resources through scripts and other software.

How SSH works?

Secure Shell was made to replace insecure terminal emulation or login programs such as Telnet, rlogin (remote login) and rsh (remote shell); SSH allows the same functions (logging into and running terminal sessions on remote systems). SSH also replaces file transfer programs like File Transfer Protocol (FTP) and rcp (remote copy).

The most basic application of SSH is for connecting to a remote host for a terminal session. The form of that command is:

 

ssh UserName@SSHserver.example.com

This is a command which will result in the client to attempt to connect to the server namely server.example.com; with the use of ID UserName.At the first time negotiating a connection between the local host and the server, the user will be encouraged with the remote host’s public key fingerprint and encouraged to connect, regardless of having been no pre-connection:

The authenticity of host ‘sample.ssh.com’ cannot be established.
DSA key fingerprint is 01:23:45:67:89:ab:cd:ef:ff:fe:dc:ba:98:76:54:32:10.
Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)?

If answered “yes” on time will result in the session to continue and the host key would stored in the local system’s known_hosts file. Mostly these are hidden files, stored by default in a hidden directory, called /.ssh/known_hosts, inside the user’s home directory.

After the host key is stored in the known_hosts file, the client system can link directly with the server again which don’t need any approvals: the host key authenticates the connection.

What are the VPN features to look for?

Selecting a VPN firewall solution has lots of complications as the market is filled with countless options. Using these tips to know what type of VPN firewall solution will suit your enterprise will make your task a bit easy:

As per Chris Partsenidis of TechTarget, “Many enterprise-grade VPN products contain firewall capabilities to protect network data from attacks. Through much of this article, we refer to these appliances as “VPN firewalls.” Learn in this article how to find a VPN firewall that’s right for your enterprise.”

Are you looking for a software-based virtual private network (VPN) solution? Or seeking a dedicated hardware firewall or VPN appliance or may be a bit of both for your enterprise? No matter whatever it might be, there is always a network security product to fit in your pricing and feature needs.

With so many products available in the market, most IT managers and engineers these days wonder which VPN is best. It’s difficult to choose, but there’s a way which can help you to zoom in your options and select from a few VPN firewalls options that meet your expectations and do what they claim they can do.

1.    Avoid mixing and matching VPN firewall solutions –

Most, if not every, VPN firewall product makes use of VPN protocols (mostly IPsec) that are described by a plethora of standards drawn by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).

This resulted in a lot of products being compatible with each other, which means that you can buy two products from two different providers and configure them to work with each other to create a site-to-site VPN.

Providers mostly launch new features that improve existing VPN protocols along with the VPN protocols most products support. These kinds of improvements are helpful; they mostly let you use the same VPN firewall vendor throughout your enterprise WAN to take benefit of them. Sometimes, these features are permanently enabled and result in periodic failures if the other end of the VPN tunnel is not supporting them.

It’s not a wise idea to mix and match VPN products with VPN/firewall technologies. If you don’t experiment with varied products together, you can never know if your VPNs will be as stable as they should be or what effects a simple change can bring to your network.

Single VPN firewall vendor = Fewer problems

The rule mentioned above has one condition: You need to choose the right VPN firewall vendor for your organization. Generally, when you handle a single vendor, you’ll have a few issues to go through – specifically if the primary VPN design is complicated. While dealing with a single vendor, you have to understand the strong and weak points of your systems and remember to adapt to them in a fast pace allowing you to solve the problems related to your VPN.

Handling a complex VPN architecture throughout a multi-vendor platform is every IT engineer’s biggest fear. Engineers need to debug them and attain enough information to the exact conclusions which make the problem even more complicated and delay the solution. Every vendor has its own troubleshooting fundamentals, and it’s tough enough to know one vendor’s logic and leave two or more!

2.    Avoid cheap VPN products –

Though cheap VPN firewall products have always been popular, this doesn’t mean that they’re the best. You can buy a VPN firewall router for less than $200 and it will run the way large vendor VPN firewall device that costs ten times more to perform their functions. So, what do you get from this?

Cheaper products come from some original equipment manufacturer (OEM) factory (usually in mainland China or Taiwan) that mass-produces products and mostly rebrands them under different names. So, chances are you’ll get three different – even popular – routers with firewalls and huge VPN support that were the same exact devices but rebranded differently. You’d be surprised by the number of security bugs found in these chap products and the level of their vulnerability to get hacked. This is strictly not acceptable when it comes to enterprise security and is unbearable.

The authentic vendors like Cisco Systems, Check Point Technologies, IBM, Symantec, and others – With good reasons don’t participate in these cheap VPN/firewall markets. These companies drain millions of dollars every year to the R&D and support to discover the fine products with potentials to withstand the challenging environment and verisimilitude of the internet.

3.    Avoid ISP tracking –

As we’ve observed with the increasing controversy at present in the US, ISPs are highly involved in tracking their subscribers. Keeping in mind the fact that what they do with the information, especially targeting advertising, is a fair reason for users to demand secrecy.

Though, after the ISPs have got the approval to sell user data, users must be aware of what is happening to their data – like surfing history, location data or app usage – to third parties over in the States.

No matter how much you’re afraid of tracking, a VPN suit installed on your devices – which includes mobile phones – will create a strong shield to defend your sensitive information from invasions of privacy.

4.    Online shopping from afar –

This is one of the most attractive features of the VPN and it makes you realize how easy life has become with the advent of technology. How?

Let’s assume that you’re traveling abroad, and want to make an order from your preferred online store to arrive at your home when you reach. However, when you browse its online store, you end up at its country-specific website. In such a case, if you use a VPN server in your home country, it will enable you to access the UK site as if you were available locally, and use your UK account to order to your residential address. Isn’t this a fantastic feature?

5.    Accessing a home network –

VPN provides remote access to your PC or NAS to access all the diverse collection of files and data related to your work, personal or entertainment purpose on your primary desktop system at any place from anywhere. But you’ve to keep in mind that secure access, a connection should be made using a VPN for all this to happen.

6.    Public Wi-Fi security –

Many places offer free Wi-Fi access, which involves schools, libraries, airports and coffee shops, etc. People commonly use these wireless hotspots to check their emails, which needs your password and other confidential information to be passed on.

Do you think hacking this type of public wireless network is a brainer for the expert? Your routers at home generally have a password and apply encryption protocols such as WPA2 to secure the traffic. Though public wireless hotspots provide open access to all and miscellaneous, and either use a common password or no password of any kind in most scenarios.

While using such a vulnerable and insecure Wi-Fi network, you must use a VPN to encrypt your traffic, which means that even if it hacked, your information will be snarled. The Krack Wi-Fi vulnerability which appeared earlier also has the fact that even latest security protocols like WPA2 can also meet with serious problems, and in this case, a VPN connection gives an extra protective layer to your data.

7.    Privacy from website info gathering –

The presence of countless websites across the internet has made it difficult for them to produce an income to oil the lamps. And advert is the most common source of generating revenue, but internet advertisements are often times directly focused on the user with the help of their IP address, not like the ads on TV.

You might’ve noticed that if you search for an item on a site like Amazon while visiting you’ll notice ads promoting similar products to the one you were just looking at.

If you find such type of user tracking creepy (which you should), you must keep it a thumb rule to install a VPN service that hides your true IP address and efficiently keep aside this kind of nonsense.

8.    Anonymous downloads –

Torrent or Peer-to-peer downloads have become extensively popular in the past few years. And, it is a well-known fact that it can be used for illegal copyright-violating downloads, there are lots of use cases like downloading a Linux distro, or open medium software such as Libre Office (a popular free replacement for Microsoft Office).

Torrent trackers, monitoring systems follow these download which over time can prove a pandora box of information for their users. This data could be passed on to the authorities, this information can simply be exchanged to the highest bidder and this is one of the biggest concerns. Using a torrent through a VPN is the easiest and most efficient solution to curb any possible problems here as such data collection depends on IP addresses.

9.     Campus connection –

Be the campus is a college or a gigantic workplace, these organizations use a large number of computer devices to help their students or employees. But the universities and corporations also need to protect their sensitive data, so any off-campus remote access is efficiently safeguarded with a VPN doing this task well.

10.    Streaming blocked content –

Geo-restriction or Geo-blocking is a term used when internet content is blocked depending on a user’s location. This is often executed in the case of TV shows or movies, take, for example, access to iPlayer is blocked for the users outside the UK.

However, sometimes this can be a bone of contention, especially when you travel abroad and are not capable of seeing the latest installation of the series you’re watching on Netflix since it’s geo-blocked.

A VPN which has the servers located in the right country can solve the problem, and consider these locations depended on predictable usage while selecting a VPN provider.

11.    Bypass traffic shaping –

Traffic shaping (also known as packet shaping) is something that lets internet traffic gets analyzed and then is processed to match a specific pattern. Traffic shaping is mostly performed by ISPs to make sure a certain level of quality performance is provided, and the rate which the packets get dispatched may be modified to keep up a steady flow.

Traffic policing is somewhat a related technology in which, if the rate of traffic flow extends the limit, some packets get discarded. Traffic shaping and traffic policing are most of the time used together for bandwidth throttling and are not mutually exclusive to restrict what a user streams or downloads. With a VPN, the traffic is encrypted, which challenges this kind of analysis, and to avoid any speed throttling.

 12. Beats the hackers –

You should know that a firewall is devised to prevent malicious attackers off your home network, and is located on your router (of course, there are firewalls software which only protect your host device).

These hackers find your network from your IP address as a VPN connects you to a server off-site, and shows you on a different IP address, any attack, therefore, gets diverted on the fake IP address against the VPN server while your home network stays protected. Hence the VPN provides an additional layer of protection from hackers and shields your network from getting attacked from other malicious attackers of the internet.

Is your VPN firewall certified?

The big houses in the VPN/firewall arena make sure that their products are fully licensed, and ensuring that this the starting point while researching the market.

VPN firewall products are licensed to ensure they meet with different validations like the popular Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-2 cryptographic module validation program. The vendor autonomous labs, like the ICSALabs. The FIPS program is a real shocker and will make you realize the importance of purchasing a certified VPN product.

How to ultimately find a VPN firewall?

There are thousands of articles present arguing in the favor of network security, but most people only realize after getting hit by a hacker. To keep hackers away from your organization’s network it’s ideal to take useful measures which include researching the latest market trends, available products, and choosing the right VPN product or trusted vendor. If you’ll ask any VPN firewall selling vendor, they all will persuade to take their product and how it is better than the other. Being a little proactive and researching the market will get you the best product which is best suitable for your enterprise’s needs.

How VPN is beneficial for you?

A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is an incredibly proficient tool for anyone using internet. A VPN involves a tunnel that your encrypted data moves in keeping your information protected and oblivious whenever you come online.

These days, the interest of enterprises has increased in using VPN services which brings no surprise as the current trend of increased surveillance, you must know about the Investigatory Powers Act in the UK, or the legislation passed in the US earlier this year.

OpenVPN Vs. PPTP – What is the Difference?

If you want to learn what keeps the PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol) different from Open VPN, you’ve to know their background and history.

Let’s first begin with PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol) which is, of course, one of the oldest VPN protocols around. The protocol was made with the help of Microsoft (which funded it) back in the ’90s. Well, that’s quite a reputation!

This VPN protocol has drastically become popular among various businesses – small and large – and other enterprises to protect their internal communications.

On the contrary, Open VPN, is more of an open-source project. It may not have a big brand name behind it, but it still set the metrics for VPN protocols recent days. That’s specifically because of its design, which enables it to constantly improve.

 Now, when the history class has finished, let’s just look at the both pros and cons of these VPN protocols. PPTP – Can we still rely on it today?

Here are some interesting points on the advantage:

Handling the protocol is a no brainer. It’s super easy to establish and use.

PPTP provides native support on almost all the platforms and devices.

And, that’s the point where the benefits start decreasing. In fact, this VPN protocol has more cons than pros:

PPTP only supports 128-bit encryption which is not a trustable solution for your information. Also, there are even rumors about the NSA decoding communications using this VPN protocols.

Hackers can easily block the ports used by this protocol. So, you will become vulnerable if you’re using this VPN protocol to avoid firewalls.

The performance is not always smooth. Oftentimes, the performance of the protocols suffers especially if the amount of shared online data is too high.

As you can now understand, PPTP is somewhat outdated VPN protocol on which you can’t depend to secure your data. You don’t have to take our words for it – Microsoft themselves have suggested that users must shift to another VPN protocol if they can.

OpenVPN – The future VPN

Open VPN was developed with keeping long-term tech changes in mind. It has a design that can easily adapt as required.

Though, it is filled with so many features:

Open VPN can operate any port with the help of TCP or UDP. This provides users more command over the quality of their Internet connections and bandwidth, as they can modify them as per their online needs.

Moreover, that port flexibility ensures that no firewall become obstacle in your path of communication.

Open VPN provides support for best-to-best encryptions. For example, it enabled us to array Buffered VPN with 256-bit Blowfish Encryption – one of the most trustable alternatives out there. One of the only negative point you can observe is the fact that Open VPN doesn’t have local support on every devices resulting the dependency on a third-party app instead.

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