What Is a VPN?

A VPN provides security for internet users.

VPN is an abbreviation for a “virtual private network.” A VPN is a very popular method for providing security to users while on the internet. A VPN works by creating and extending a private network in a public network such that users connected to the public network surf the internet as if they were connected to a private network which offers more privacy online.

What this means is that a user is capable of creating a virtual space or a room within a specific network that would allow the user access to private internal systems. In more general terms, a VPN provides a user with the ability to have absolute privacy while online that would enable access to otherwise limited content. For example, in some countries, certain services such as Netflix are not allowed. By using a VPN, a user can mask his/her location and be able to access the restricted content.

Does a VPN Provide Absolute Privacy?

This question may be answered by understanding how VPNs work. A VPN provides total security to all the users connected to the VPN. As such, the traffic and information passing through the network is completely safe, and no one can view the traffic. Consequently, a lot of people use VPNs. Aside from the privacy and security against hackers, some users use VPNs to hide their online activity from internet service providers (ISP), the government, and to customize their locations so that they appear in different countries.

However, caution is advised to users. Before connecting to a VPN, care should be taken to ensure that a system is not already compromised by malware. As such, a user must take measures that will protect the device against such software. One way of ensuring that malware is removed is by using an antivirus.

Classification of VPNs

There are several ways that VPNs are classified, and they include:

• The protocol utilised for tunneling traffic.
• The security levels used.
• The point of termination of the tunnel.
• The connection topology utilised, for instance, network-to-network and site-to-site.
• The Open Systems Interconnection layer presented to the connecting network.
• Classification is also done based on the count of simultaneous connections.

Security Structures

While a user may never be totally anonymous while online, a VPN surely provides a number of mechanisms that greatly increase online security and privacy. The security provided by a VPN includes:

• Confidentiality such that a hacker who manages to access the network traffic would only get encrypted information.
• Sender authentication which ensures that only authorized users access the VPN.
• The integrity of the messages sent over the network thus ensuring that the message is not tampered with.

The secure protocols provided in a VPN include Internet Protocol Security (IPsec), Transport Layer Security (SSL/TLS), Datagram Transport Layer Security (DTLS), Microsoft Point-to-Point Encryption (MPPE), Microsoft Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP), Multi Path Virtual Private Network (MPVPN), and Secure Shell (SSH) VPN.

Before secure VPN tunnels are created, the tunnel endpoints are authenticated. This authentication may be in the form of two-factor authentication, using passwords, passwords, or any other method used for cryptography.

More in Society