An Introduction to Virtual Private Networks – Part 1

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Some of our other posts have examined what you, the business owner, should do in case you have been impacted by a cyber attack or a security breach.  In summary, some of these steps involve the following:

  1. Immediately securing the lines of defense at your business;
  2. What to check for in your IT infrastructure after your business has been impacted;
  3. Whom to notify in the case that a cyber-attack has actually indeed happened;
  4. The kind of letter that should be written to the impacted parties (a model letter was provided and reviewed in detail).

In this post, we continue to examine another tool that you can use to help fortify the lines of defense at your business.

There’s something called a “Virtual Private Network”, or “VPN” for short.  Essentially, with this kind of technology you are masking your network lines of communication.

For example, if your remote employee logs in to access resources which are located at your place of business, that particular connection will appear to be “invisible” to the rest of the world.

This is the first post of a series of posts about VPNs… With this one being an overview into the Virtual Private Network.

An Overview into the Virtual Private Network

A Virtual Private Network is essentially a dedicated network in and of itself.

It is highly specialized, with the main intention of securing the flow of communication between the sending and the receiving parties.

In the example above, the former would be the corporate server and the latter would be the remote employee attempting to log in.

In a bit of a technical explanation, the Virtual Private Network takes the data packets (or small bits and bytes) in which the plain text message (i.e. your login credentials of a remote employee) resides in, and encrypts it.

This plain text message cannot just be sent by itself. It needs to have a vehicle in which to travel across the network medium, which is the data packet, and then further encrypts it on an as needed basis.

This encryption tool is actually just another data packet.

This means that the data packet which contains the plain text message (i.e. the login credentials) is further wrapped inside by another data packet, in order to provide that extra layer of protection.

This process is technically known as “encapsulation.”

Once this process has been accomplished, the Virtual Private Network then establishes a dedicated network connection. It can also even establish a dedicated network channel, in which the encapsulated data packet can be sent in.

This type of connection makes use of the public network infrastructure and related systems. Even with that, this special type of network connection established and used by the Virtual Private Network cannot be seen by others.

These types of connections cannot be picked up by network sniffers.

On that note, we’ll stop there. There was a wee bit of tech jargon in there.

One of our upcoming posts will examine in detail the mechanics into this special kind of network connection. This is known specifically as “IP tunneling.”

If you have any questions or comments with regard to VPNs or your specific VPN, feel free to contact us.

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