Protecting your VPN Service

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Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are collections of computers in a network that can be accessed over the public internet. In fact, VPNs can be used to securely allow authorised people to connect to private local area networks (LANs) that would otherwise only be accessible inside company offices via a cabled LAN connection.

When choosing what VPN service to purchase, it is important to consider the reasons you are looking at a VPN in the first place.

Business Accessibility. Companies need employees to access their local area network when travelling or going abroad on business. Usually a company will provide access to their own VPN, but on other occasions one must be purchased separately.

Business Networking. Businesses with multiple networks in different locations will need to use VPNs to securely connect from one server to another. This is the case when web sites and relational databases are located on servers based thousands of miles away from each other or even on different continents entirely.

Salespeople & Executive Access. Employees and consultants will need to securely access the company network without making the corporate data insecure. A VPN is one of the best ways to do this.

Digital Nomads & Foreign Travellers. Many websites now restrict access only to users from the originating country (like BBC’s iPlayer restricting access to users only within the UK). By using a VPN, the originating country can appear to be the same as the required country because the user is accessing the site through, in this case, a UK VPN server first.

This marks their true location.

Changing VPN Servers

Depending on the VPN provider and VPN package selected, the service will include a number of VPN servers that can be accessed. These often include some servers based in the USA, UK, parts of the EU, as well as some Asia-based servers. The reason for this is to create a mix of possible IP addresses, which can indicate a location, and provide flexibility.

Most VPN providers will let you access a single VPN server in one country. They usually will allow a specific number of changes to different servers per month (like one located in a different country). Some more generous VPN providers will allow unlimited changes in any given month.

Access Protocols

There are at least four popular protocols that can be used to access a VPN. It will be up to the VPN provider to determine how many different protocols they support on their VPN system.

OpenVPN, otherwise known as SSL/TLS, is the most well known protocol, and is used in web browsers for secure connections.

PPTP is also used, but there are some known vulnerabilities to this protocol which need to be carefully considered.

L2PT is another protocol that is growing its user base presently.

For business users, they mostly use IPSec or SSL to secure their communications.

Data Logging

Some VPNs log originating IP addresses which in the event of a lawsuit can be revealed in court proceedings. Other VPNs rotate IP addresses for each user or use the same IP address for a number of users, making it impossible to identify the specific user. Also, depending on the jurisdiction, some VPN service  providers do not keep user access logs at all, making it impossible to know who downloaded what on their servers.

Bandwidth & Speeds

While a user may have access to very fast corporate internet connection, when running all data through an encryption protocol and a separate VPN network, the ultimate internet speed experienced will partly depend on the connectivity of the network for the VPN. The provider may also impose speed limits and bandwidth limits too.

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are collections of computers in a network that can be accessed over the public internet. In fact, VPNs can be used to securely allow authorised people to connect to private local area networks (LANs) that would otherwise only be accessible inside company offices via a cabled LAN connection.

When choosing what VPN service to purchase, it is important to consider the reasons you are looking at a VPN in the first place.

Business Accessibility. Companies need employees to access their local area network when travelling or going abroad on business. Usually a company will provide access to their own VPN, but on other occasions one must be purchased separately.

Business Networking. Businesses with multiple networks in different locations will need to use VPNs to securely connect from one server to another. This is the case when web sites and relational databases are located on servers based thousands of miles away from each other or even on different continents entirely.

Salespeople & Executive Access. Employees and consultants will need to securely access the company network without making the corporate data insecure. A VPN is one of the best ways to do this.

Digital Nomads & Foreign Travellers. Many websites now restrict access only to users from the originating country (like BBC’s iPlayer restricting access to users only within the UK). By using a VPN, the originating country can appear to be the same as the required country because the user is accessing the site through, in this case, a UK VPN server first. This marks their true location.

Changing VPN Servers

Depending on the VPN provider and VPN package selected, the service will include a number of VPN servers that can be accessed. These often include some servers based in the USA, UK, parts of the EU, as well as some Asia-based servers. The reason for this is to create a mix of possible IP addresses, which can indicate a location, and provide flexibility.

Most VPN providers will let you access a single VPN server in one country. They usually will allow a specific number of changes to different servers per month (like one located in a different country). Some more generous VPN providers will allow unlimited changes in any given month.

Access Protocols

There are at least four popular protocols that can be used to access a VPN. It will be up to the VPN provider to determine how many different protocols they support on their VPN system.

OpenVPN, otherwise known as SSL/TLS, is the most well known protocol, and is used in web browsers for secure connections.

PPTP is also used, but there are some known vulnerabilities to this protocol which need to be carefully considered.

L2PT is another protocol that is growing its user base presently.

For business users, they mostly use IPSec or SSL to secure their communications.

Data Logging

Some VPNs log originating IP addresses which in the event of a lawsuit can be revealed in court proceedings. Other VPNs rotate IP addresses for each user or use the same IP address for a number of users, making it impossible to identify the specific user. Also, depending on the jurisdiction, some VPN service  providers do not keep user access logs at all, making it impossible to know who downloaded what on their servers.

Bandwidth & Speeds

While a user may have access to very fast corporate internet connection, when running all data through an encryption protocol and a separate VPN network, the ultimate internet speed experienced will partly depend on the connectivity of the network for the VPN. The provider may also impose speed limits and bandwidth limits too.

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