IPsec and VPNs: The Sad/Glad State of Affairs

    Date13 Feb 2001
    CategoryCryptography
    2927
    Posted ByAnthony Pell
    VPN technology combines two concepts. The first is virtual networks, in which geographically or topographically distributed users and computers interact and are managed as a single (flat) network. The second is private networks, in which we protect the data from eavesdropping . . . VPN technology combines two concepts. The first is virtual networks, in which geographically or topographically distributed users and computers interact and are managed as a single (flat) network. The second is private networks, in which we protect the data from eavesdropping and, perhaps, can trust the identity (ownership, location, administration) of each user and each node on the network.

    An "Internet goal" is to be able to use VPN technology, not only within a corporate environment, but to extend the use Internet-wide. This would provide for protection of data between enterprises and individuals that had never before established any kind of a relationship. IPsec standards provide for that. There are other vendor- developed standards that try to handle part of the problem set, but IPsec tries to handle the whole, while doing so in a non-vendor-specific way. IPsec is a "product of the IETF, the Internet Engineering Task Force (http://www.ietf.org/). IPsec covers the encryption of network connections for confidentiality and more. It also takes care of the automatic sharing of electronic credentials in order to establish the identity of each end of a network connection, as well as the automatic negotiation necessary for deciding on encryption algorithms to use and the like.

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