VPN Network: What You Need to Know

A VPN network or Virtual Private Network is defined as a network technology that helps create a more secure network connection on a public networking such as the web or a network that is owned by your internet service provider. Institutions such as companies, schools, and even government agencies use this technology in order to allow remote users to connect safely to a private network.

Just like a Wide Area Network or WAN, VPNs enable you to connect to several sites over a remote distance. More often than not, VPNs are used to spread information and news to an extensive user base worldwide. Schools and universities use VPNs in order to connect to satellite campuses or sister schools and exchange information easily and securely across the country or worldwide.

VPN Network: What You Need to Know

For you to be able to access a private network, you need to be able to get authenticated or authorized by using a unique username and a personal password. Authentication tokens are frequently used to gain secure access to the network by a personal identification number (PIN) that users should enter. This PIN is unique that it actually changes according to the desired frequency of the administrator; usually, it changes every minute or so.

What are the Protocols of Private Networking?

VPNs are used according to several protocols that enable secure communication of information through a public network infrastructure. These protocols vary in a way according to how this information is securely kept.

VPN Network: What You Need to Know
  • IP Security (IPSec) is primarily used to secure exchange of information over the web. You can either use transport mode or tunneling in order to encrypt information traffic in a private network. The difference between these two is that transport mode translates the information within the data packet; tunneling, on the other hand, translates the entirety of the data packet. IPSec is otherwise referred to as “security overlay” due to its usage of a security layer for various protocols.
  • The Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and the Transport Layer Security (TLS) makes use of cryptography in order to safely secure communications on the internet. These protocols use the handshake method of authentication which involves conciliation of network parameters between the user and the server. In order to successfully connect, you may have to undergo authentication procedures which basically involve certificates that are found on the server and the client as well.
  • The Point-To-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP), on the other hand, is also a tunneling protocol which is used to connect a client that is on a remote location to the private server using the internet. This protocol is actually one of the most popularly used protocols primarily because its configuration and maintenance is easily understandable and done. Aside from that, it also works with the Windows operating system which is also widely used worldwide.
  • The Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP) is another tunneling protocol used to communicate information between two websites on the internet. It is most frequently used with IPSec in order to secure the transfer of data packets. In comparison to PPTP, a VPN that uses L2TP/IPSec will require you to share keys or use certificates in order to be authenticated to access the network.
VPN Network: What You Need to Know

Advantages and Disadvantages of VPN Technology

The VPN technology is one of the inexpensive ways of creating a private network at home or at the office. You only need to have access to the internet in order to communicate between sites making it a cost- and time- efficient substitute to expensive private lines. Companies only need to pay for the network authentication hardware and the software that will be used in authenticating users, as well as the additional mechanisms like authentication of tokens and other devices. For those companies who need flexibility, the ease, speed, and flexibility that the VPN provides make it an ideal option to use. With this, the company can change the number of sites in the private network in accordance with the changing requirements for authentication. You can read top 10 vpn service ranking and review on bestvpnservicemag.com

Note, however, that there are also a number of potential disadvantage with the usage of VPNs. VPNs actually lack the Quality of Service (QoS) management on the internet; this puts the data at risk for loss and performance issues may arise. As a matter of fact, adverse network conditions which actually occur just outside of the private network cannot be controlled by its administrator. And because of this, several large companies pay for the use of a trusted VPN that will guarantee their network QoS. Another potential disadvantage is also vender interoperability. There are actually instances wherein one VPN technology from one vendor may not be compatible to that of another vendor; thus, you only have to stick to one brand or type of technology. On the brighter side, neither of these two disadvantages have prevented the general acceptance of VPN technology.

Networking Monitoring: On Setting Up VPN in the Workplace

It is actually not a secret that our internet activities can be monitored through various internet protocols. For someone who is highly literate with computer and internet technology, they can easily monitor one’s internet habits just as long as that person is within public network. To protect yourself from these unwelcomed monitoring, you can actually set up virtual private networks (VPN) at home or at your office.

VPN will actually give you the power and control over your visibility; that is, you can choose whether or not you would share your internet habits. This is commonly used and seen in various institutions, like companies and schools, who would want to have a secure communication system between one department to another, or between the main server to the satellite clients. So, how do you set up a VPN?

Steps on How to set up a VPN router

• Log in to the router and look for the VPN tab. You may see it as a stand-alone tab or you can look for it under the “services” tab. There are some routers, however, that list it as a “PPTP” tab.

• Decide on what VPN protocol you would want to use for your private network. For this set of instructions, however, we will be using the point-to-point tunneling protocol, otherwise known as the PPTP. With PPTP, a virtual tunnel is made from point to point in order to keep outsiders from seeing what’s going on inside your network; thereby, making it more secure.

• Decide and specify the users that are allowed to join your network through the use of usernames and passwords for authentication. Check the manual of your router for syntax; note that the command language used by routers may vary depending on the manufacturer. However, the most common format being used is usernamepassword*.

• Set the IP addresses that are available in the internal network for users.

• After saving the VPN settings on your router, configure your server.

Instructions on How to Set Up and Configure Windows Server

• Click the “Start” tab on your computer and then go to “Settings and Network Connections”.

• Select “Create New Connection”, and then proceed by clicking the “Next” button.

• Select the last option in the Network Connection Type box which is the “Setup Advanced Connection” tab.

• Click on the “Accept Incoming Connections” button in the Advanced Connection box. Click the “Next” button for the two more succeeding boxes.

Networking Monitoring: On Setting Up VPN in the Workplace

• Click on the “Allow Virtual Private Connections” button and the click “Next”.

• Choose an existing user or create a new user; this will allow your computer’s operating system to have a username and a password to use for the VPN.

• As soon as you have finished selecting the users that you wish to provide access to, click on the “Next” tab and “Finish”.

Networking Monitoring: On Setting Up VPN in the Workplace

• In the Network Connections Folder, right click the “Incoming Connections” tab, and then choose “Properties”.

• Choose the “Networking” tab and select “TCP/IP protocol”. And then, click on “Properties” and click “Specify IP Address”. This section will allow you to choose the addresses of the users you wish to connect or to join to your VPN. In order for you to do this properly, you have to know specifically where your router applies Dynamic Host Control Protocol (DHC) settings; this is actually the series of numbers that your router will assign to your new users. Most of these numbers start at the bottom and reaches up to about 100. For standard home routers, it would give you a range of numbers from 192.168.11 to 192.168.99 as your DHCP. Under the “Specify IP Address” tab, you may choose between those numbers to assign to your new users. Note that you can actually assign more numbers or even less depending on the number of users you wish to have access to information on your VPN anytime.

• In the same window, you actually also have an option of allowing the computer to assign its very own IP address. However, note that choosing this option may not be necessary at all since you have assigned different IP addresses for your new users.

Networking Monitoring: On Setting Up VPN in the Workplace

• Assuming that your router is also the firewall for your hardware, log in to your router. Look for the “Advanced Options” tab; depending on the manufacturer, some routers may have this tab as the “Port Forwarding” or “Gaming” tab. As soon as you find it, you need to forward the Port 1723 and Port 500 to the main computer that stores the VPN server. These ports must be forwarded to the IP address of the server computer that you have just configured. However, if you are not so sure of what the IP address is, you can go the computer and click the “Start” button, then “Run”. Type in “CMD” in the black window, then “IPCONFIG all”; this command will actually give you the IP address of your VPN’s server computer.

• Click on “Save” in the router configuration. Restart your router. The server will now allow connections without having to change the firewall. However, if you are currently using an external firewall, you might want to disable them first unless you are on a public internal network. If there is a need to use this firewall, you may check its user manual if there are any exceptions on the ports that are listed from the abovementioned instructions.

Guidelines on Setting up the Client

• On your desktop, right click “Network Connections” tab.

• Select the “Create a New Connection” option.

• Click on the “Connect to the Network at My Workplace” tab, and then click “Next”.

• Select the “VPN” option and then click “Next”.

• You can actually name your VPN connection if you want to. Note that this will not affect how the VPN works as this is only made for your own preference. Click the “Next” tab.

• Select the “Do Not Dial the Initial Connection” and then click “Next”.

• Type in the external IP address of the VPN server; if you don’t now the address, you may consult your IT department for this.

• Click on the “My Use Only” or “Everybody on This Computer” according to your preference, and then click “Next”.

• You may choose to create a shortcut for this connection into your desktop. Then, click the “Finish” tab.

Network Monitoring: Types of VPNs

Virtual private network software is commonly used by institutions, such as schools or companies, to make it easy for them to monitor one’s activities on their network or to allow for a secure usage; especially that internal and external transactions usually involve the use of the internet. This type of network technology can actually be installed in various why. One method is through the appliance of hardware VPN, and another is through software for already existing equipment

Various companies and organizations worldwide make us of the virtual private network technology in order to connect their remote clients and users on their local area networks. This gives their clients authorization to access their resources in a more secure way from a remote with the help of the internet.

Software VPN

The software VPN technology is primarily made available in various types. One type of software VPN is a program added to the main server of the network. The other software, on the other hand, is an upgrade to the existing network equipment. The manufacturer of this equipment may provide you with functionality for network usage, such as routers, in order to upgrade the software.

What are the Benefits of the Software VPN technology?

Compared to the hardware VPN technology, software VPN is very cost-efficient as it is way cheaper than its counterpart. Since this software can be installed on existing equipment, less training may be necessary for the company’s IT department since the manufacturer of the said equipment may have maintained a familiar application interface or they may have written it on the router’s manual. Aside from that, software VPN technology may also be a way of maintenance for a hardware topology of a private network.

Hardware VPN Devices

Hardware VPN devices are network equipment that is mainly focused on the purpose of creating a virtual private network. Although they are relatively more expensive than its software counterpart, hardware VPN devices actually promises the best performance especially for big organizations and companies that rely heavily on VPNs for communication.

It is important to note, however, that there are considerations regarding the network topology that should be thought about. This is primarily because hardware VPN is an additional appliance. Aside from it will actually need extra space in the office, it will also require your IT department staff to be trained extensively on the proper usage and troubleshooting of this device.

Network Monitoring: Types of VPNs

What are the Benefits of Using Hardware VPN Devices?

Hardware VPN devices are created solely for the purpose of creating a private network within an organization. Thus, it provides the most efficient and effective VPN capability for the company. The use of hardware VPN makes sure that other network devices can focus on other tasks intended for them rather than providing additional workload for VPN purposes. To cite an example, a router that is used to communicate network traffic at a specific speed; if some of its resources are allocated to maintaining a VPN, it may forward network information more slowly.

Determining whether you are Monitored without Authorization

The advancement of technology today has offered us a wide range of connections and information that some of the libraries and books can’t provide. However, the downside to this is that there is an increased incidence of hacking on the web. With hacking, each and every one of us can be a victim anytime; even government agencies and companies who have the most secure connections were hacked. Note that, it can be done remotely; which is why, it is very important for us to be able to know whether or not our activities on the web are being monitored.

Determining whether your web activities are monitored or not can be difficult, depending on how sophisticated the monitoring method of the person is. For older computers, they run more slowly when they are being monitored; computers nowadays, on the other hand, have enough power to make network monitoring untraceable in terms of performance.

Determining whether you are Monitored without Authorization

How to determine if Your Computer is Being Monitored

  • Check the connection of your keyboard’s cable if there are any devices that are physically logging your computer. Devices such as key-loggers can actually record every typed key on the computer. They can be installed using the keyboard’s connection cable or a wireless adapter. If the cable or adapter isn’t connected directly to the computer, then an interrupting device may be used as a key-logger.
  • There is a program that can scan and identify monitoring protocols on the firewall. Such program can be downloaded from the Berkeley University of California website. As soon as you have finished downloading it, run it and see if there is a positive hit.
  • You may also choose to run a “Deep Scan” using an anti-spyware program Spybot Search & Destroy. This program is focused on searching for spyware and malware programs that may harm your computer. Aside from that, it also disables any changes that are made to your system registry which is used for network monitoring.
  • Consider checking your anti-virus program’s Exclusions or White List section for any program or folder. White-listed programs are actually those who are considered to be potential monitoring programs. Network monitoring software often don’t work on computers unless your anti-virus program authorizes them.
  • Run a full system scan with your anti-virus and anti-malware programs in order to search for any monitoring software on your system. More often than not, monitoring software is usually flagged as malicious. If you don’t have any computer security and protection programs, you may download AVG and Ad Aware programs; these are the highly rated and thus highly commendable anti-virus programs of today. Malwarebytes is also highly recommended as a free anti-malware program that you can install on your computer.
  • Open your computer’s task manager and try to check programs under the “Processes” tab for any suspicious programs that are running. Compare these processes on your computer with another computer that is running using the same operating system as yours; this will help you identify if your computer is running questionable or suspicious programs. If you are using your company’s computer, however, you should use a personal computer in order for you to compare.
  • Check your installed programs by going through the programs list on your Start Menu. Look for remote desktop programs such as VNC, LogMeIn, or GoToMYPC, or those programs you didn’t personally install on your desktop; these programs may be used to hack or monitor your activities.

Warnings

  • It is best for employees to assume that the computers they are using at their office are monitored. It is legally allowed for employers to install any monitoring software on computers that the company own.
  • Note that your computer itself may not be monitored. However, your network activities can be monitored by another. Anyone on your network can use network analyzers to track and intercept your internet activities.
Determining whether you are Monitored without Authorization

Tips

If you do not want your activities over the web to be monitored by anyone, you can actually hide your IP addresses or use virtual private networks. These networks can be activated through configuring your computer. They will allow you to control and have power over who can share information with you and will allow you to surf the web securely. Note, however, that some protocols used for VPNs are not free and often expensive. However, you can now find a number of free virtual private network software on the web.