What is a VPN?

Article Details
  • Written By: R. Kayne
  • Edited By: L. S. Wynn
  • Last Modified Date: 23 November 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
Carbon dating suggests that Ice Age humans lived alongside a prehistoric rhinoceros known as the "Siberian unicorn."  more...

December 13 ,  2003 :  Saddam Hussein was captured.  more...

A virtual private network (VPN) is a catchall description for a variety of networking schemes that allow businesses to use public Internet lines to create a virtual network. It has no standard model, but in general, it uses public Internet lines in one of several unique fashions to create a virtual private network. The network can operate between branches, regional centers, and field representatives via a set of software and hardware protocols that authenticate users and encrypt traffic.

A few types of VPN security include the following:

  • Encrypted tunneling uses SSL (Secure Socket Layer) encryption to authenticate users and send information between the remote client(s) and server(s).

  • IP Security (IPSec) encrypts IP packets like SSL, but can also encrypt UDP (user datagram protocol) traffic, one layer deeper in the network model. UDP traffic accounts for only a small percentage of network traffic, but is used in some key applications like streaming media, and Voice over IP (VoIP).

  • Point-to-point Protocol (PTPP) is Microsoft's VPN protocol, and is not considered as secure as some others.

Other models include "trusted VPNs," which rely on the third party services of an established network provider. The provider handles all network traffic and guarantees the security of network communications. Trusted network structures might use multi-protocol label switching (MPLS), layer-2 forwarding (L2F), layer 2 tunneling protocol (L2TP), or later versions of these protocols, such as L2TP version 3.


A VPN differs from a WAN (wide area network) in that the latter uses leased network lines, thus restricting all traffic to corporate business only. This is effective but costly, particularly when the network must span large distances.

Some companies use intranets or extranets to facilitate "private" communication. These protocols involve password-protected pages or sites that, ideally, only employees and authorized personnel can access. Connections between remote users and host servers are not always encrypted, however, and intranets and extranets are not technically private networks.

A VPN is expandable, much more cost-effective than a traditional WAN, connects field operators, international offices, affiliated partners or clients, and improves productivity. Assuming care is taken to build a secure the network, it is a highly beneficial step that can be a tremendous asset to any company with networking needs.


You might also Like


Discuss this Article

Post 4

Configuring VPN is not always an easy task with a Mac based operating system because so many applications are Windows based. Are there any recommended VPN solutions for Mac users? I always drive myself crazy trying to set these things up because all the instructions are in "Windows-ese".

Post 1

I'm going to be looking into getting a VPN SSL and to be quite honest my homeshoring company lacks tech advice. What I want to do is have a system which will enable me to bolt on to other companies servers in order for me to access the information so that my personnel can work from home for my clients I have.

Would a VPN SSL be the thing I require and also am I able to lease one or do I need to buy one outright?

Just to put this into perspective:

I need home agents to be able to access the clients systems.

For Data Entry and Customer Service.

Is there anything else I would need and just how secure are these VPN SSL. Would I need additional Firewalls and RSA tokens in place? Or would this be built in and how long does it take to get a VPN SSL Tunnel set up?

Post your comments

Post Anonymously


forgot password?