Virtual Private Networks

Virtual private networks (VPN) provide an encrypted connection between a user's distributed sites over a public network (e.g., the Internet). By contrast, a private network uses dedicated circuits and possibly encryption. This page describes IP-based VPN technology over the Internet, though an organization might deploy VPN's on its internal nets ( intranets) to encrypt sensitive information. We also have some performance numbers. The basic idea is to provide an encrypted IP tunnel through the Internet that permits distributed sites to communicate securely. The encrypted tunnel provides a secure path for network applications and requires no changes to the application.

Design Issues

Software solutions

The software solutions might be better termed "software approximations." The classic solution is to provide privacy on an application-by-application basis using crypto APIs. Secure remote access is provided by encrypted telnet services like SRP or SSH. SSH also permits tunneling other services (like X) over the encrypted connection. For dial-in connections, Blaze's Encrypting Session Manager (ESM) provides encryption after the session has been established. Encrypted voice communication over the Internet is provided by Nautilus or PGPfone. Transport layer encryption for TCP is provided by SSL, also see the IETF's Transport Layer Security (TLS) drafts. More integrated software solutions can be provided by Kerberos or OSF's DCE or by using a Point to Point Tunnelling Protocol (PPTP or Microsoft's PPTP implementation and a FAQ) and vulnerabilities. L2TP combines the best of PPTP and Cisco's L2F protocol.

Blaze's swIPe, or vpnd, and CIPE provide encrypted transport services, also see Gong's enclave paper. The on-going development of IP security options for IPv4 and IPv6 along with ISAKMP and GKMP may soon provide the necessary software tools for constructing your own virtual private network, and there are some implementations available for testing, also see paper on MS-DOS implementaton. Also, see the recent Internet draft, or the VPN framework, or the S/WAN initiative and Linux freeswan or or OpenVPN NIST's cerberus.

Commercial solutions

InternetWeek's vpn page
DataComm's tests 7/98
LANtimes review of VPN's (10/98)
Network Computing VPN review (9/98) and IPsec VPNs 9/99
Cisco's IOS security architecture and Cisco's PIX info
DSN's NetFortress or here
Brivida's Pirma One
DEC's altavista tunnel and a comparison
VPlus Networks
InfoExpress VTCP/Secure
IBM's SecureWay
compatible systems
shiva vpn
redcreek VPN hardware for NT
Xerox Ethernet tunnel
Bay/New Oak NOC 4000 or here
Microsoft's Windows 2000 VPN
Shiva infocrypt
NEC's PrivateNet
NetLOCK or here and a review
aventail and their white papers
IRE's SafeNet or
Radguard's CiPro and a review
Cylink's SecureDomain
DataFellows F-Secure VPN
Win* solutions: Secure Client or Ashley Laurent VPCOM or SKIP
NSC/StorageTek BorderGuard
Checkpoint's Firewall-1 vpn
Some firewall vendors and (soon) router vendors provide VPN services, e.g., see Cisco's encrypting routers
vpnlabs info
Timestep's IPsec whitepaper
more VPN info and links/FAQ
vpn references and links

Test and evaluation

The Network Research Group at ORNL has been doing evaluations of various VPN solutions, including STEL, SSH, Kerberos, DCE, ESM, and IPv4/v6 with Cisco ISAKMP daemon. We have also done preliminary testing on Cisco PIX unit, DEC's AltaVista client tunnel, and DSN's NetFortress. Here are some preliminary performance data of encrypted tunneling throughput and latency.

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Other security related links can be found here.
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