Written by Elliot Puddle -
As our lives migrate from physical to digital mediums, the places we store our most delicate information changes. Internet browsing, work engagements and private conversations are not always as private as we wish them to be. A virtual private network (or VPN for short) will provide the means to stay engaged with the online world while minimizing the risks. While there are many VPNs on the market, there are also different types. It’s important to have some understanding of how they work and which one is best suited for your needs.
VPNs work by using network packets and a procedure called tunnelling. In simple terms, information from a computer is compressed and sent through a connection to the end point of the network. Tunnelling allows for the transfer of information in forms that would ordinarily not be possible.
Because of these tunnelling protocols, virtual private networks can be created, linking two or more computers together. Once a VPN is established, information can be easily transferred between connected users securely as well as offering increased privacy.
There are currently two types of VPNs in widespread use. The first of these are remote access VPNs. These are used by individuals wishing to connect to a network in a different location. A common example of this are corporate workers who are away from the office or working from home. This allows them to access the private intranet of their given company.
Site-to-site VPNs work by creating a virtual network than multiple parties can connect to from different geographical locations. These kinds of VPNs work best for companies or businesses that have separate work offices, allowing for a singular network without the need for being in the same location.
Technically speaking, mobile VPNs also come under the remote access category, and allow for connection with a network from a separate location. Traditionally, when a device connects to a network it’s linked to the physical IP address. This means moving from one location to another will drop you from the network while it acquires a new physical IP for your connection. However mobile VPNs do not use physical IPs in the same way. Simply put, they create the illusion of connection so that you may resume access when you have an actual connection without being dropped from the network.
Due to the different uses and specifications of VPNs, it’s important to know which archetype fits your needs. Knowing the difference between site-to-site and remote access will help you, but realistically it is only the first step in finding the right VPN. Next time we will go over the usage of personal and corporate VPNs and how they can be best utilized.