The concept of technological security is reaching headlines on a daily basis. Some days it is news of a large security hack or security breach, and other days it is advertisements from companies promising to help you remain free from security hacks.
The increased need for security is seen on both commercial levels and personal levels – whether you are managing your company’s database from another country, or simply want to browse the internet securely at a local coffee shop.
Two solutions that are commonly referenced are VPNs and SSH Tunnels. This article will go through what a VPN is, what an SSH Tunnel is, the uses for each, and the pros and cons for each.
What is a VPN? VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. A VPN extends a private network across a public network and enables users to send and receive data across public networks as if they were directly connected to a private network. This gives users privacy and anonymity, and masks users’ IP addresses. The VPN essentially creates a tunnel between your location and a remote VPN server on a different location, that could be thousands of miles away. This will make it seem as if you are in another place, masking your identity and location. It makes users online actions virtually untraceable. This will protect your personal data, hide your IP address, let you bypass content blocks and website restrictions.
Uses: Hide IP Address Masking the user’s identity Masking the user’s location Creating Privacy Anonymous browsing
The Pros: If privacy and anonymity is important, a VPN will suit your needs. Your browsing habits will remain anonymous and your identity masked. One of the biggest drivers recently of VPN usage has been the increasing demand for content with geographical access restrictions. For example, many video streaming sites are only viewable in certain countries. A VPN allows your IP address to appear as if it is from that country, enabling you to access the content from anywhere.
Many times, VPNs are used, because the user thinks that the VPN will grant them security. However, VPNs aren’t actually secure – they are targeted more towards anonymous browsing or masking a location from its destination. The owner of the VPN and your service provider still have full access to your data – so if anyone ever hacked either of those two parties, your data is compromised.
There are some VPNs that also encrypt the data as a feature, but VPNs are not intrinsically secure.
SSH Tunnel Security:
What is an SSH Tunnel? An SSH Tunnel is a method of transporting data over an encrypted SSH connection. It is a connectivity tool that allows secure access over an insecure location. Visually and literally, an SSH Tunnel creates an encrypted tunnel between the user and the network they are connecting to, preventing any hackers or spoofers from accessing the tunnel. Encrypted traffic is encapsulated and is sent through an encrypted channel, making the connection encrypted and secure.
SSH Tunnel - Uses: Securely browse the internet Bypassing firewalls Secure data transfer Remotely and securely manage servers Remotely and securely maintain databases
SSH Tunneling - The Pros: SSH is a highly recognized security standard used by millions for secure data transfer. SSH provides strong authentication, secure access, data integrity, and some of the best encryptions available. SSH tunnels are lightweight. There are no lengthy or complicated command lines. It has a small footprint, and is a minimally invasive, easy to use solution.
SSH Tunneling - The Cons: When SSH was initially developed in 1995, it used state-of-the-art encryption algorithms. Since then, computer advancements and computing powers have deprecated these original algorithms. In 2006, new algorithms came out in a revised version of the protocol, SSH2. When using an SSH Tunnel, verify before use that the algorithms are the new, updated algorithms and not 15+ year, outdated and unsafe algorithms.