David Papp Blog

Beginners Guide To Understanding VPNs

Look at any article that covers security tips and one tip that’ll spring up is the use of VPNs. A Virtual Private Network – VPN for short – is private networks that are hooked to public networks but can only be accessed by specific individuals.

These have been touted as great security measures as public wi-fi at cafés or in malls is not safe. These are open to attacks and hackers can extract a lot of information from people who use that. VPNs are safer alternatives for businesses and individuals who need to be around in public and want to surf without the threat of their privacy or security becoming compromised.

But one thing people don’t know about is that there are various types of VPNs. While each one is secure and solid, each one has their own quirks to them.

Knowing what these are can be helpful in determining which company you should consider to purchase a VPN from. Not only that but you’ll get a better idea of how these all work.

How VPNs Work

Before diving into the types of VPNs, it pays to know how they work on a general scale. When looking into VPNs, it’s important that you’re familiar with one technique that explains VPN’s function.


Tunnelling is the act of encapsulating data. Whenever we’re talking about VPN functionality, what’s happening is that any data that’s sent is sent through this way. What this means is that information from our computer is being encrypted and is travelling across the communication network.

This technique is called tunnelling as VPNs are essentially creating a tunnel within our computer network.

Types Of VPNs

Another thing to keep in mind about VPNs is that while they make these tunnels, there is of course an end point to it. Leading up to that point, the information can’t be used until it “leaves the tunnel”.

The key here is that in order for the tunnel to be completed, it needs to be connected to something else of course. It’s here where we get different types of VPNs. There’s only two of them, but knowing their main characteristics is important.

Client-Based VPNs

The first type is client-based VPNs. This is where a user is connected to a remote network through an app. This app is what’ll take care of initiating communication and establishing the VPN.

In order for anyone to get into this connection, someone will need to launch the app and log in like you would in any site. The act of logging in is what will cause the tunnel to be created, encrypting any data between your computer and the remote network.

In terms of what systems can implement this, many people find that Windows and Mac systems to work along with Android phones. That being said, each one has different standards when it comes to encryption.

For example, all Window and Apple devices have Layer 2 Tunnelling Protocol – otherwise called L2TP.

What you need to know about all this is that this is a simple mechanism so people can connect computers or mobile devices to a network with little worry that their information is going to be taken.

This is a great option to go for if your company handles sensitive information and many of your workers work remotely with said information.

Network-Based VPNs

The second is network-based VPNs which is a way for people to connect to various networks via the internet. This is the go-to VPN for companies who have different head offices scattered across the globe and want to share information in a secure manner.

While this is a basic type, there are various types of network-based VPNs to suit businesses needs. One of which I want to cover is IPsec tunnels.

These are the simple VPNs out of them all and we are more familiar with them. Most network firewalls and routers have these.

The methods behind this is similar to client-based VPNs. They’ll create a tunnel so traffic can be exchanged between the networks. But that’s where the similarities end.

For network-based VPNs, you can encapsulate the tunnel so traffic is only coming from a single device. This means this network is highly flexible compared to the other.

Furthermore, your endpoints need to be clearly defined. That being said, you can vary the degree of authentication through use of passwords and certificates. For example, if information lacks specific certificates, it wouldn’t be able to get sent until it did. That or the user input the incorrect password.

As you can tell from this type, you have way more control over the flow of information and the quality of it too than others. With this in mind, this is more suitable for larger business than for public consumption.

Protect Communications With VPNs

If you’re someone who wants more protection while working abroad or travelling, getting a VPN is going to help. These tools will protect you while you are using public wi-fi and will do a lot more than that.

VPNs can block geographical grounds, slip past any censorship and will allow you to exchange information in a secure manner.

When you combine the power of a VPN with an anti-malware solution, then you should have nothing to worry about while surfing online.