Businesses and individuals are increasingly concerned with privacy when surfing the Internet. Companies in particular must take measures to ensure their work-related documents are kept private when sending them over the Web. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a low-cost, reliable way to provide companies and individuals security for their electronic communications.
A VPN uses encryption to create a private network that sends traffic over an otherwise public network (like the Internet). This allows a user to log securely into a computer at work or home. The Secure Shell (SSH) is a free (for non-commercial use only) product that can transfer files and perform remote logins. The data is encrypted ensuring that no one else on the Internet can listen in on the conversation.
The most secure VPNs use digital certificates to establish a secure connection. This allows only authorized users to access the network. Even without certificates, a VPN that uses the latest encryption standards like AES, DES, 3DES, or Internet Protocol Security (IPSEC) provide strong security, often for less money because these are freely available encryption routines.
There are several good sources of information on VPNs available:
- The Virtual Private Network Consortium: a trade association for VPN vendors
- A video talking about routers that incorporate security.
- Juniper Networks secure access routers (mostly for business users)
- Cisco makes several secure networking products, again aimed at the business user.
The popularity of Web browsers makes an SSL VPN a viable option for business that want to share Web applications. Since many users are familiar with using a browser, this may make introducing VPNs easier.