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A virtual private network is a private network that uses the internet to provide a secure and encrypted connections.

Benefits of a virtual private network

  1. A VPN helps to keep online services which may include online transactions, emailing and online shopping safe.
  2. It gives you the ability to add additional layers of security and privacy.
  3. Information can be accessed remotely and from any location using a virtual private network.
  4. With a VPN, one can easily browse through the internet without being traced. You are able to hide some information like network and IP details.
  5. You can use a VPN to get access and retrieve information from other geographical locations.
  6. It helps in hiding your private information like the IP address.


  1. Remote access VPN

Businesses users and employees use it to access services and resources remotely. It provides a secure and private connection remotely.

  • Site-to-Site VPN

This type of VPN provides a secure internet connection for offices or companies within different geographical locations.


  1. Point to Point tunneling protocol

Uses the point to point protocol to encrypt data between connection. PPTP connects to the target network by creating a virtual network for each remote client.

2. OpenVPN

Uses a security protocol based on TLS and SSL to create a Site-to Site connection.  It is more suitable for long distance connections.

3. Layer 2 tunneling protocol

Works hand in hand with another virtual private network protocol. It creates a tunnel. The other VPN protocol like IPsec encrypts data and provides a secure connection between the tunnel.

4. Secure socket layer and Transport layer Security

SSL connections have https at the beginning of their URL instead of http. SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) and TLS (Transport Layer Security) create a VPN connection where the web browser acts as the client in order that the user can verify that he/she is talking to a trusted server via their browser.

5. Internet protocol security

IPsec enables a system to select the required security protocols and secret keys to be used for the services requested. It uses the Authentication header and encapsulated security payload to provide data confidentiality and integrity.


A virtual private network uses different techniques to keep you secure. This includes

  1. Encryption

Encryption is the process of sending data from one computer to another computer by encoding it in a way that only the other computer will be able to understand. 

Types of computer encryption

i. Symmetric key encryption where each computer has a secret key to be able to encrypt any information that it intends to communicate to another computer.

Examples Triple Data Encryption algorithm (Triple DES), Advanced encryption standard, Blowfish, Twofish.

ii.    Public key encryption. Uses a private and public key. To communicate securely, your computer uses a private key and the other computer uses a public key to be able to communicate with each other securely.

Example River-Shamir-Adleman (RSA)

2. Firewalls

A firewall acts as a barrier between your private network and the internet. Some functions of the firewall are:

– It can be configured and set to restrict the number of open ports.

– It is used to determine what ports are passed through and the protocols allowed through.

3. Internet Protocol Security protocol (IP SEC)

IPsec provides a basic authentication, data integrity and encryption services to protect unauthorised viewing and modification of data.

4. Authentication, authorization and accounting servers.

Authentication – This is the process of identifying an individual. The user provides a username and password which is unique.

Authorization – The process of allowing or denying a user access to a network. This includes the amount of data and services the user is permitted to access. 

Accounting – This is the process of keeping track of the activities, the duration of time, services utilized and the amount of data the user has accessed.


Although a VPN provides a means of accessing a secure, private and internal network over insecure public networks such as the internet, organizations and all users should be careful to implement policies and measures to operate in a secure environment when using a VPN.

  1. Install anti-virus software on remote clients and network servers to prevent the virus spread of the virus if it is infected.
  2. Provide training to network/security administrators and remote user to ensure they follow the right security policies when using a virtual private network.
  3. Install and properly configure firewalls to block unauthorized access.
  4. Encourage the use of strong authentication mechanisms when users are connecting to different networks.
  5. Provide logging and auditing functions to record network connections.
  6. Set security policies and distribute them to responsible parties to control and govern the use of the VPN.
  7. Unnecessary access to internal networks should be restricted and controlled.


By kcsfa

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