SSL VPN: Everything You Need To Know Explained


In today’s heavily connected world, it’s a feat to try and keep your data protected and out of the wrong hands. Although technology has given us much to bask about, it has also opened the door wide for a variety of illicit behaviour. 

In today’s day and age, it’s not enough for companies or personal users to just have virus protection software on their computers. Today’s online activities require much more protection.

(Image Source: CISA)

One of the many useful tools a business can use is a Secure Sockets Layer Virtual Private Network (SSL VPN). This technology is an amalgamation of a range of different technologies placed together which combines the encryption protocol of SSL with the protocol functionality of a VPN

Understanding VPNs

A VPN is a Virtual Private Network that enables you to connect a device whether it be a computer or mobile to a private network. Doing so creates an encrypted connection that conceals your IP address whilst encrypting data. Concealing the IP address and encrypting allows users of an organization to securely brown the web and share sensitive information and data securely, keeping identities safe. 

An SSL VPN is a type of private network that uses a secure socket layer protocol in traditional web browsing to produce an added layer of security to remote access VPN capabilities. An SSL VPN enables devices with connection to the internet to establish a secure remote connection through a web browser whilst using end to end encryption to help protect data transmitted between the device and the SSL VPN server which is used to securely connect to the internet. 

(Image Source: Web Safety Tips)

Many large organisations and companies use SSL VPNs to help remote employees access organisational resources, this has become more prominent over the course of the pandemic as working from home has been the only way employees can continue working. An SSL VPN is vital as it provides end-to-end encryption for client and customer internet sessions. 

They are also a great option as they can easily be implemented without the need for specialised software making them easy to put into place.

One of the best features of an SSL VPN is how it enables users to access restricted network resources on a remote basis through a secure and authenticated pathway. It does this by encrypting all network traffic by mimicking it to make it seem like the employees are accessing the data from a local network. This eliminates the geographical location of the user totally.

One of the main reasons to use an SSL VPN is for the sole purpose of preventing unauthorised parties from accessing and eavesdropping on network communications across the board. This way they are unable to modify or extract data that has been saved. SSL VPNs offer the option of more flexibility and heightened security options for organisations and to acquire one, companies simply have to purchase a stand-alone appliance that functions solely as an SSL VPN server.

Advantages of SSL VPNs

One of the main advantages of an SSL VPN is the fact that it uses Transport Layer Security (TLS) technology which is implemented into modern web browsers. What this means is that there is no need to install any other specific software. In relation to traditional VPNs. SSL VPNs have a much more sophisticated outbound connection security thanks to their encrypted circuits created using TLS. 

SSL VPNs also require less administration overhead and far less technical support compared to traditional VPNs because of how easy they are to use and how reliable they are. They allow users to pick a web browser regardless of the operating systems that their devices are running on which makes them more sought after. 

(Image Source: Cyber Data)

Because SSL VPNs operate the TLS, traffic can be divided into tunnelled circuits which work great for accessing protected resources.

Risks

As with all technologies, there are some security risks associated with SSL VPNs. Although it can offer enhanced security measures, an SSL network can be susceptible to spreading Malware, this includes well-known Spyware, Trojan horses, Worms and Viruses. This is because users are able to access SSL VPN servers remotely. If a remote user is using a device that doesn’t have up to date antivirus software, it can spread malware from the local level to the organisational level all over the network. 

(Image Source: VPN Mentor)

Hackers can also exploit the split tunnel through which the secure data is supposedly meant to travel through. Splitting the tunnel enables users to transmit secured traffic from an SSL VPN to communicate the data and information over unsecured channels. Splitting tunnels lets hackers access and share network traffic across both public and private networks simultaneously. This can give a hacker the chance to execute illicit behaviour through the uncensored channel.

Even though all VPNs are created with a secure and encrypted connection, there is always the possibility of a security breach. Before choosing the type of VPN to go for, you must consider the need for the business in its entirety, using an SSL VPN will allow employees to browse the internet and conduct online business all while being protected. A quarter of internet users are now using VPNs as a form of security and so, choosing the right technology that aligns with your company goals is vital.