In simple terms, VPNs are privately used networks over a public network of internet connections. A VPN connection masks the IP address of the user and makes it untraceable. VPN or Virtual Private Network helps users connect to the internet, privately and securely. Over the VPN, the internet connection is encrypted through VPN tunnel and the data sent over the connection is private and secured.
A Virtual Private Network provides several benefits. Over the VPN, any kind of financial transaction is safe and secure. While, all the communication like sending emails, chatting, browsing of website is private and encrypted.
Types of VPN
VPNs are primarily divided in two categories:
1. Remote Access VPN: Remote access VPN allows connecting to the internet remotely. For example, an individual can connect to a private and secure network when they are traveling, away from home location. In this type of VPN, the user can bypass regional restrictions and can access blocked sites as well.
2. Site-to-Site VPN: This is a site or location specific VPN which allows connecting the internet connection network of one location to another location. This type of network is commonly used in corporate companies, which are geographically spread out. The Site-to-Site VPN is further bifurcated as extranet based VPN and intranet-based VPN. In Site-to-Site VPN, router to router communication takes place, wherein, routers act as VPN Client and Server.
Types of VPN protocols
1) PPTP: PPTP or Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol is a protocol that creates a tunnel over the network and helps compress the data packets before sending. This is one of the oldest protocols present in the internet world and it is compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux.
2) L2TP/IPSec: Used as a replacement to PPTP, L2TP or Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol is a highly secure protocol that often works with another protocol called IPSec for encryption. When two L2TP connections establish connection then IPSec secures the data through encryption.
3) OpenVPN: OpenVPN is a custom security protocol used in PPTP or Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol and Site-to-Site internet connections.
4) SSTP: SSTP or Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol uses different protocols for authentication and encryption. Usually, SSTP uses SSL/TLS certificates of 2048-bit for authentication and 256-bit SSL certificate for encryption.
5) IKEv2: IKEv2 or Internet Key Exchange version 2 is a VPN protocol applied for tunneling that facilitates a secure internet session through key exchange.
6) Secure Shell (SSH): SSH or Secure Shell based internet connections are used for data transfer through an encrypted tunnel. SSH creates connection via SSH client and from the local port, and the data is transferred to the remote server. Meanwhile, the data tunnel is completely protected through encryption.
VPN became operational during 1996 and since then, the type and models of using VPNs have come a long way. As much as VPNs have facilitated millions of safe and secure internet connections, they have also empowered large companies and multinational to operate seamlessly, across geographies.
VPNs have become primary business tools to conduct secure business. More specifically, in the global financial sector, the role of VPNs has important connotations attached. From providing secure access to company networks to allow highly encrypted and secure sessions to a group of individuals – VPNs have transformed as per the changing internet requirements over the past decade.
As the ecosystem pertaining to VPN technologies continues to expand, many features are also being introduced for ensuring increased safety and versatility to the network. In the past few years, serious issues of cyber security have posed multiple challenges for internet networks across the world. Owing to which, VPNs and the related protocols are being worked on – and for detecting and addressing violations and vulnerabilities, the evolution of VPNs is in process.