Current VPN Technologies
Current VPN technologies have been widely adopted by corporations because they provide solutions to major technical challenges that have emerged as a consequence of how we do business today. In particular, VPN technologies provide a secure and cost effective means of supporting:
They have in fact enabled the emergence of a type of enterprise that until a few years ago was an impractical dream i.e. virtual corporations and networked organizations.
Another driver is the level of attention that corporations are now paying to laptop security issues.
Current VPN technologies enable employees, partners and associates to securely tap into corporate networks using either private or public networks from just about anywhere. Until the advent of VPNs, remote employees could only access corporate networks via either a private leased line or a long-distance phone connection, options that greatly limited mobility and involved substantial cost.
VPN's enable remote workers to securely connect into head office servers from wherever they are in the world and interface with a desktop identical to that used by staff located in a head office. Furthermore, these connections can be made using the same wiring and routers as are regularly used to access the internet. The key to this technology is the use of proprietary network protocols that establish restricted access networks in the form of a virtual tunnel. Examples of network protocols include: PPTP, SOCKS, IPSec and L2TP. In addition to their other responsibilities these protocols also address authentication of users and encryption of traffic across the VPN.
Other attractive features of current VPN technologies relate to the ease of deployment and connection. Remote employees simply install VPN client software onto their laptops and thereafter they can initiate a session whenever connected to the internet. The internet connection maybe wired or wireless, as a VPN can secure wireless connections to local access points.
Whether a VPN will provide a secure connection at a wireless hot spot is another question. Theoretically the concept of a virtual tunnel implies that traffic will not be visible to fellow coffee drinkers, the wireless router or ISPs. In reality that will depend on factors including the strength of encryption and authentication as well as the tunneling protocol deployed. There are significant differences between proprietary implementations of VPN technology. As a result there are incompatibles between different brands and variations in levels of authentication, encryption and security between brands.
Another outcome of how the technology has evolved is that there is no shortage of answers to the question: what is a VPN?. It's a good idea to get agreement on VPN requirements before proceeding down the path of a deployment.
In many respects current vpn technologies are just a form of WAN (Wide Area Network). Functionality such as file sharing, video conferencing and other network services are accessed via VPNs, but that is primarily a result of cost effectiveness rather than functionality added by the VPN.
The greatest weakness of VPN technology is derived from its greatest strength. While enabling the internet to be used as a secure extension of corporate networks, there is a loss of control over the reliability of service delivery to ISPs.
Surf The Internet At Work?
Windows and other software programs store history about the different activities that you have performed on your computer and on the Internet. This information is stored in the system areas of your hard disk and the built-in Windows functions like 'Clear History' offer little protection as they can only partially delete this data. Anyone can take a look at your history and find out what you have been doing on your computer, and this raises serious privacy concerns.
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