As more and more companies become global, one of the challenges that have faced them is the need to maintain computer communications throughout all of their decentralized operations. Originally, this was accomplished by renting dedicated phone lines; a very expensive option.
More recently, the Internet has enabled companies to extend their in-house local area computer networks around the globe. With virtual private networks, each business location for the company can have their own local area network, which in turn connects to the home office, through the virtual private network, with relatively high security and reliability and minimum cost.
The secret to making virtual private networks function is the tunneling protocols that encapsulate the information which is sent through the Internet. This ensures security and ease of communication between the remote location and the company’s mainframe computer. The great challenge is in maintaining communications security through a medium that is intended for ease of information access; that is, the Internet.
“Tunneling” refers to the way that the information is encrypted and packaged to travel from one location to another. One of the key features of tunneling protocols is that they are designed to eliminate the possibility of that date being “entered” either to add or remove data, while in route. This ensures the high security necessary for a virtual private network to function.
The increase in availability of virtual private networks has become a boon to medium to small companies working in multiple locations. Whereas before only major corporations could afford integrating their computer systems in remote locations, now even small companies can benefit from the increased communication efficiency of allowing their remote locations access to their mainframes.
While virtual private networks are in use by many companies, this is still an emerging technology. New standards, equipment and software are constantly being developed and released into the waiting marketplace.