VPN Essentials

What is a VPN?

A VPN makes the private network, such as your corporate network,  accessible through public infrastructure (aka internet).  A VPN can allow users to exchange data efficiently across shared or public networks, as though they are directly linked to the private network.

The P stands for Private – which means that users are ‘private’ – they are identified by cryptographic certificates, a username-password combo, or both.

What is the typical use of a VPN?

Legit Uses – To hide your identity from hackers, identity theft etc.

Not-so-Legit Uses

  • Torrenting – People who download movies etc. on torrent and do not want to be identified.
  • Accesing Geo-Restricted Content (most popularly, Netflix).

Encrypted Tunnel

Commercial VPNs  provide an encrypted tunnel for traffic. That traffic is routed through a server in a remote location of the user’s choosing. This re-routing is what masks the IP address and online activity of the user.

Company IP Address Blocks

Companies have private blocks and public blocks of I.P. Addresses. Public  I.P.s are hard to come by, some most companies today only have private block I.P.s.

What happens to my I.P. Address when I connect through a VPN?

Your vpn client adapter will have a IP assigned from your company network’s address space. You may still show your existing IP address (from your broadband provider) on your regular NIC card. However, that IP address will not be sending out traffic anymore (while you are on the VPN).

Your company will setup your VPN so that you are allowed to be either on your work network or the internet – but not both at the same time. This is generally recognized as a good security policy.

What if I WANT to be on the company network and the internet at the same time?

This is called split tunnel. Here, you can decide what goes gets forced into the company network and what gets sent out to the internet directly.  This is generally considered UNSAFE and RISKY.

VPN over IPsec

VPN over IPsec is an IP based connection methodology to interconnect two different networks, irrespective of networks within cloud/ outside, cloud to on premise network etc., broadly there are two types of VPN routing protocols used 1. Static Routing protocol 2. Dynamic Routing protocol.

Who are some of the leading VPN providers?

There are some free VPN providers as well – but these suffer from slooooow data rates.

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Specializing in high volume web and cloud application architecture, Anuj Varma’s customer base includes Fortune 100 companies (dell.com, British Petroleum, Schlumberger).

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Anuj Varma – who has written posts on Anuj Varma, Technology Architect.

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