What is an IP Virtual Private Network (VPN)?

VPN (Virtual Private Network) refers to a variety of networking schemes that allows businesses to use public Internet lines to create a virtual network between their sites and users.
A VPN is a network of computers connected to each other virtually and using another network, such as the Internet, to carry the data. Privacy exists because, even though the data might be carried over a public network, only those machines which are allowed to connect to the VPN can see the other machines on the VPN.
In order to gain access to the private network, a user must be authenticated using a unique identification and a password. An authentication token is often used to gain access to a private network through a personal identification number (PIN) that a user must enter.
As it uses the Internet a VPN is a cost-effective method for building a private network and cheaper than a traditional WAN. VPNs are easy to install and manage and it’s straightforward process to add and change users.
If an organisation is seeking Quality of Service then other solutions are usually better than VPN.
Security and protocols
Encrypted tunnelling: utilizes SSL (Secure Socket Layer) encryption to authenticate users and send information between the remote client[s] and server[s]. SSL and Transport Layer Security (TLS) use a certification process (certificates are cryptographic keys that are stored on both the server) to secure communications. Both protocols use a ‘handshake’ method of authentication that involves a negotiation between the client and server machines.
IP Security (IPsec): encrypts IP packets like SSL, but can also encrypt UDP (user datagram protocol) traffic which is one layer deeper in the network. UDP is used in some key applications like streaming media and IP telephony. IPSec is often referred to as a “security overlay” because of its use as a security layer for other protocols.
Point-to-point Protocol (PTPP): Microsoft’s VPN protocol, a tunnelling protocol used to connect a remote client to a private server over the Internet. PPTP is one of the most widely used protocols because of the straightforward configuration and maintenance.
Trusted VPNs: use the third party services of a network provider that handles all traffic and guarantees the security. Network types can include multi-protocol label switching (MPLS), layer-2 forwarding (L2F) or layer 2 tunnelling protocol (L2TP).
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