Like every other website on the planet, SmallNetBuilder uses cookies. Our cookies track login status, but we only allow admins to log in anyway, so those don't apply to you. Any other cookies you pick up during your visit come from advertisers, which we don't control.
If you continue to use the site, you agree to tolerate our use of cookies. Thank you!

Router Charts

Click for Router Charts

Router Ranker

Click for Router Ranker

NAS Charts

Click for NAS Charts

NAS Ranker

Click for NAS Ranker

More Tools

Click for More Tools

Security How To

VPNs For Secure Networking

Even when a laptop is safe in your hands, there is still the problem of what happens to your data in when it hits a network. Unencrypted wireless access points (and even access points using weak encryption) can broadcast your information to anyone and everyone who is listening. It's then a simple process to use a network sniffer such as Ethereal (recently rebranded as WireShark) or OmniPeek Personal to capture traffic that includes unencrypted login and password information (Figure 3).

Figure 3: The packet-sniffing utility Ethereal (Click to enlarge)

Figure 3: The packet-sniffing utility Ethereal (Click to enlarge)

Malicious users can also set up fake access points that can mimic legitimate sites, perpetrating what is commonly known as a 'man-in-the-middle' attack and relieving you of your personal information. It's all enough to drive a person mad.

Fortunately, virtual private networking technology (VPN) allows users to 'tunnel' into a server via an encrypted connection, providing a great deal of communication security even when making use of an insecure connection. VPNs vary in speed and security depending on the implementation. The most common VPN technologies available are IP Security (IPsec), Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP), and Layer 2 Transport Protocol (L2TP).

L2TP and IPsec are commonly combined together (as they operate on layers 2 and 3, respectively), with L2TP providing security on the datalink layer and IPsec providing secure authentication on the network layer, though IPsec may be used by itself. PPTP is another available standard, and is significantly easier to set up than IPsec, though it may be broken if a user selects a poor password.

Figure 4: VPN connected notifications in Windows and Mac OS X

Figure 4: VPN connected notifications in Windows and Mac OS X

Many companies and universities make use of VPNs for their users and certain ISPs and Web hosting providers also offer VPN services to customers. So be sure to look into whether or not your organization or ISP provides VPN access before you depart, as it can save a great deal of heartache along the road.

If you want a cheaper VPN solution, and don't mind a bit of elbow grease and setup time, OpenVPN provides a free way of deploying a VPN on your home network. For an even easier solution, consider setting up your own SSL-based VPN using the "Community" (free) version of SSL Explorer.

More Stuff

Wi-Fi System Tools
Check out our Wi-Fi System Charts, Ranker and Finder!

Support Us!

If you like what we do and want to thank us, just buy something on Amazon. We'll get a small commission on anything you buy. Thanks!

Over In The Forums

I know many electronics producers have "official outlets" for their refurb and old stock products.In the past newegg would carry a number of refurb AS...
Hi guys, guru, network and problem-solving lovers!I am requesting your help and wisdom here I know this question is mostly about topology but my devic...
I thought there was a way to limit the time on certain devices accessing certain thingslike YouTube but I can't find anything atm...i have an Ax88u ru...
Hello there,I've very recently acquired a refurbished DSL-AC68U to get rid of my ISP box.I've made a mistake at first, which is to directly flash the ...
- Improve stability.- Fixed some internet disconnect issues.

Don't Miss These

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3