Fri Apr 13 2018

What is VPN and how does it protect you online?

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What is VPN?

Virtual Private Network

A virtual private network or VPN acts like a tunnel, used to exchange data securely and anonymously across the Internet as if you were connected directly to a private network. Internet data packets are passed across the VPN, therefore get the benefit from the functionality, security, and management of a private network. When you connect through a VPN, all your traffic becomes encrypted and your Internet Protocol address gets replaced with the address of the VPN server. Basically, nobody will manage to track your online traffic. When you using VPN  you can easily overcome geo-restrictions, enjoy true online anonymity and liberally.

How does VPN protect you in online?

VPNs cannot make online connections completely anonymous, but they can usually increase privacy and security. To prevent disclosure of private information, VPNs typically allow only authenticated remote access using tunneling protocols and encryption techniques.

The VPN security provides confidentiality, sender authentication, and message integrity.

Confidentiality - if the network traffic is sniffed at the packet level, an attacker would see only encrypted data.

Sender authentication - prevention of unauthorized users from accessing the VPN.

Message integrity - to detect any instances of tampering with transmitted messages.


Many security protocols have been developed for VPN, each offering different levels of security and features. They are -

IP security (IPSec)

IPSec used to secure Internet communications and can operate in two modes. Transport mode only encrypts the data packet message itself, and Tunneling mode encrypt the entire data packet. This protocol can also be used in tandem with other protocols to increase their combined level of security.

Secure Shell (SSH) VPN

SSH creates both the VPN tunnel and the encryption. This allows users to transfer data by routing the traffic from remote file servers through an encrypted channel. The data itself isn't encrypted but the channel its moving through it. SSH connections are created by the SSH client, which forwards traffic from a local port one on the remote server. All data between the two ends of the tunnel flow through specified ports.

Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP)

PPTP is a ubiquitous VPN protocol used since the mid-1990s and can be installed on a huge variety of OS which has been around since the days of Windows 95. But,  PPTP doesn't create encryption, it simply tunnels and encapsulates the data packet. Instead, a secondary protocol such as GRE or TCP has to be used as well to handle the encryption. PPTP has been eclipsed by new methods, the protocol remains a strong one.

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Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS)

SSL and TLS are used in the security of online retailers and service providers. These protocols operate using a handshake method. These parameters are the two systems which exchange encryption keys, authenticate the session, and create the secure connection.

Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP)

The L2TP has the best features to create a highly secure VPN client. But, L2TP isn't capable of encryption. It generates the tunnel while the IPSec protocol handles encryption, channel security, and data integrity checks to ensure all of the packets have arrived and check that the channel hasn't been compromised.

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