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Chapter 24. Making Remote Network Connec... > Using Virtual Private Network Connec...

Using Virtual Private Network Connections

In the remote connections you’ve seen so far, the security exists mostly at the connection point. That is, you set up usernames with strong passwords, and no one can access your dial-up or Remote Desktop connection without entering the correct logon data. This works well, but it doesn’t do much for the actual data that’s passed between the host and client. A malicious hacker might not be able to access your system directly, but he certainly can use a packet sniffer or similar technology to access your incoming and outgoing data. Because that data isn’t encrypted, the hacker can easily read the contents of the packets.

What do you do, then, if you want to transfer secure data such as financial information or personnel files, but you love the simplicity of a dial-up connection? The answer is a tried-and-true technology called virtual private networking (VPN), which offers secure access to a private network over a public connection, such as the Internet or a phone line. VPN is secure because it uses a technique called tunneling, which establishes a connection between two computers—a VPN server and a VPN client—using a specific port (such as port 1723). Control-connection packets are sent back and forth to maintain the connection between the two computers (to, in a sense, keep the tunnel open).


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