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Businesses nowadays are looking for a way to give flexibility to their staff. A great way to allow employee to work from home, it gives full access to all the resources that the main office might have, this is achieved by setting up what is called Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN is a private data network that makes use of the public communication infrastructure.
Remote access Solution
Remote access allows users to log onto a network from a distant location. This is achieved with a remote computer connected to the distant network. Remote control is defined as the ability to take control of another computer. Remote access is defined as the ability to get access to a computer or a network from a remote distance. Data link is used to achieve this communication because it transfers data from the network of one machine to the network layer of another machine... The difference between workstations and a remote user that are connected directly to the network is slower data transfer speeds. Remote Access is useful in business because it allows staff to connect local office computers with other networks within the company. It allows sharing of resources as if all the computers are connected to the same LAN. Dial up and Virtual Private Network (VPN) are the two common methods of achieving or making remote access available.
Dial-up remote access allows users to connect to an organization by dialling (using a modem connected to their computer) a phone number belonging to the host office. Dialling this number connects the user to a modem bank at the site to which he/her wanted to connect. This type of access allows users to connect from anywhere- as long as the user had access to a computer and modem (and perhaps some special software installed on the computer as well), and had access to a phone line (Joseph, 2005).
A virtual private network (VPN) allows computer or entire networks to connect to each other over the Internet securely. For example if one office is located in Dublin and needs to connect to the branch office in Cork securely, VPN is used to serve this purpose, VPN as client server architecture. VPN is a client server technology. This means you have one server that provides the service, and then you have a client that try to connect to server to get the service. The common use for VPNs is to provide dial-up access or network extension for remote employees. Instead of making expensive calls and maintaining access servers with modem banks, a remote user can dial up and connect to the Internet locally, then use the VPN to access the main site securely over the Internet. This allows for reduction in phone bills and elimination of expensive and hard to secure modem banks and access servers. One of the key elements of VPNs is encryption. To protect sensitive or non-routable data as it passes over the public Internet, we need to create a virtual private tunnel (Snyder, 2004).
VPN uses tunnelling protocol, tunnelling protocol set up a tunnel between Point A to point B through the entire route the information is going through, then inside the tunnel its encrypt all the information. VPN generate a secure tunnel through which the information travels, typically that information has been encrypted. Individual users need to be identified before giving access to the information and the applications. This is important because if a hacker is sitting at a router and he/her is able to see all the traffics that are going through, the first security they are going to run into is the tunnel that is protecting the encrypted data, if they are sophisticated hackers, they can then penetrate the tunnel, even if they penetrate the tunnel in order to access the data, the data is encrypted.
Below figure demonstrate how VPN protects data from hacker:
The two very important things with VPN connection is the Internet upload speed and wiring, because when a user in Dublin try to edit a document they should be able to put the document out of the server all the way from the Internet over to their computer. Old wiring is very bad for transmitting data, because data needs good and clean wiring to be able to move efficiently. If using old wiring, lots of defect in this old wiring would make VPN software think that a hacker is trying to penetrate tunnel and it will keep dropping the tunnel.
SSL VPN provides end-user ease usage for remote access as well as excellent security. SSL VPN makes URL a remote access for the users. The web browser is the universal thin client and this is the beauty of the SSL VPN. SSL VPN products allow users to establish secure remote-access session from a virtually any Internet-connection web browser. Delivering the ability for people to access e-mail, critical information system, files and other network resources from virtually anywhere is not a trivial task. Despite often appearing to onlookers as simple devices, SSL VPNs employs complex and advanced technology. (Joseph, 2005)
SSL VPN sits between outside users and internal resources and intermediates all communication between the two. The outside users and the internal resources are never in direct contact with each others. Each sees the secure access appliance as the termination point between their communications, because the appliance intermediate and rewrite the contents as it passes through the appliance.
Network layer or IPsec VPNs secure communication between a local area network (LAN). IPsec VPNs are excellent solution for remote or branch offices, fix telecommuter and fix partner site to site connection, where the users has a manage cooperate device, and it coming from a trusted network. But IPsec VPNs are a less desirable solution for mobile users because they require additional overhead for client software deployment and installation and ongoing desk support.
SSL VPNs operated at the application layer and ideal for providing access to selected resources for mobile employs and consultants as well as business partners and customers whom else access the network from untrusted network via on none cooperate device.
SSL VPNs uses secure socket layer (SSL) as method of secure transport, Since the SLL is available as part of all standard web browsers, there is no client software to install configure or deploy. SSL VPNs provides access from any device from anywhere, SSL VPNs don't just handle web applications they enable access to any network resource. SSL VPNs have compelling Total cost of ownership benefits and also provides the additional benefit of control shared information. Using SSL VPNs allows the enterprise to balance need to provide access to remote or mobile users, partners and customers with ensuring that this audience see only what are allow to see. This help to reduce the risk of unmanaged devices or untrusted networks.
Advantages of using SSL VPNs is that they have a very low total cost of ownership because there is no client to deploy, no changes required to internet server and it can provide access from any computer with the web browser that support SSL. (Internet - computer - security, accessed 26-11-2012)
Secure Remote Access
Today the key challenge in secure remote access is how to deliver key application and critical data to the right users across various types of devices and access method. It's not just the traditional laptop anymore it's mobile devices, home pc, and Internet. It's also about roaming across difference networks and having simless connectivity when changing from one network to another. An ideal secure remote access solution also needs to let users collaborate both within and across organisation, including the use of voice, video and other type of collaborative applications. In delivering all of that connectivity requires to maintain a consistence information security policy for your organisation.
Chapter 3 Three Criteria to Consider
Security: IPSec encrypt all outgoing data and decrypt all incoming data to enable the users to use a public network, like the Internet, as a transportation media. IPSec operates on layer 3 of the OSI Model. This layer uses two different techniques, Authentication Header (AH) which provides two-way device authentication, which can be implemented in hardware or software, and in many cases provide user authentication via a standard set of credentials - userID and password and Encapsulation Security Payload (ESP) protocol provides the data encryption. Most Implementation support algorithms such as Data Encryption Standard (DES) (Joseph, 2005)
Connectivity: Workforces are becoming increasingly mobile. In turn, global IT administrators need to enable safe and productive remote access over a broad range of connection media. A secure remote access solution should ensure that remote users remain seamlessly connected when roaming between different networks, both in and out of the office, or transitioning through hibernation or standby. The solution must also automatically select the most optimal network access point and adapt its tunneling protocol to the most efficient method for the user's specific connections and application sets (cisco, accessed 25-11-2012).
Mobility: Mobility factors of many enterprises want VPN of usage to work, not just at the proprietor machine as it deploy by the enterprise, but also by the other machine as well (Cisco, accessed 25-11-2012)
Chapter 4 Popular remote access software solutions
Some of the most popular remote access software solutions that allows users to remotely access and control their computer are: LogMeIn, GoToMyPC, and RealVNC. All of these software solutions have different licences and have different ease of use. One of the things to be consider when considering remote access software is what are you willing to pay and what is having the software is simply work worth to you. For example LogMeIn is a remote connectivity that allow users to control office/home computer from remote location such as work, friends and relatives as long as the user have the access to the internet, by login to logmein.com an create an account. LogMeIn users can choose between Pro version and Free version. The different between Pro version and Free version is that on the Pro version side in addition to remote control it gives access to file transfer, remote printing, file sharing, guest invitation, file sync and a little more security.