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What is a VPN Appliance and how does it Work?

Updated on: 25 January 2019 SECURITY

You know what a VPN is – a private internet network implementing encrypted tunneling protocols that allow you to use the internet anonymously. Now, let’s take a step forward.

A VPN appliance is basically a network device which uses very strong security features to ensure your protection and privacy online. It’s a router that provides you with the following:

  • Load balancing – a technique that distributes network workloads uniformly to increase efficiency and productivity of a given network. All the resources of the system are optimized with reliability and swiftness in mind. 
  • Moreover, the load balancing provides failover, a back-up emergency function that redirects the resources from a server to another once the first one crashes.
  • Authorization – system admin rights to make use of all the resources available on the network. By default, an operating system won’t give maximum privileges to any user at any time unless specifically instructed to do so. This function gives the end-user complete control of the system and private network.
  • Authentication – a handy process of verification to check if the identity of the user. This technology decreases the chance of any foreign third-parties accessing your system by comparing the credential inputs with records kept in a database.
  • Encryption – security method that encodes information using a cipher that can only be deciphered by another entity with access to a decryption key. At the moment, encryption is the single most powerful end-to-end protection mechanism in the world, even more so when talking about network traffic.

1. How does a VPN appliance work?

The VPN appliance uses public telecommunication infrastructure and all the resources available on the internet to provide remote locations with secure access to proprietary data.

Moreover, they can work on many different platforms and offer central management as well. Because they are compatible with essential network applications, clients, and legacy platforms, the use of VPN appliance has become especially significant in the present.

These network devices are installed with one purpose in mind – the increase performance and efficiency, but also to keep a strict low-maintenance operation. That is to say, to achieve double the results with half the efforts spent, something only an autonomous machine can succeed in doing.

These VPN appliances are scalable, and they provide end users with specific features that some market segments will require by default, thus eliminating the need to install additional applications.

It’s also known as an SSL (Secure Socket Layer) VPN Appliance, and for good reason as well. They are mainly used to protect and encrypt private communication and data transmissions. The end goal – utmost confidentiality of its end-users, and perfect integrity of the transmitted data.

Servers, laptops, desktops, mobile devices, an SSL VPN appliance works on many platforms, but recently, they are specifically focused on giving users secure remote access for client devices only. This doesn’t include gateways, servers or other infrastructure devices.

2. Reasons for using a VPN appliance

One of the main reasons most people use SSL-encrypted VPN appliances is to protect their confidential data from prying eyes. No third parties should be allowed to spy on your activities, eavesdrop on your private communication or, even worse, to steal any sensitive data.

Especially when the client is working on an external network and their traffic is being redirected through the Internet where there are plenty of unsecured and weak access points, the risk of eavesdropping rises significantly.

Another essential reason would be that a VPN appliance prevents the external manipulation of communications or the alteration of data. Hackers will usually end up fucking up your data or making a mess of it, should they come forward with a man-in-the-middle attack. Most importantly, these data alterations will often go undetected unless you know beforehand something’s up.

These SSL VPN products have been present on the market for some time now, but dedicated products are rarely ever made, if at all. The major corporations and producers have begun implementing the SSL VPN functions into the NGFS (Next-generation firewalls) or the UTM (unified threat management) systems.

3. Do you have to sell your kidneys to get a VPN appliance?

Maybe half a kidney, but the costs are pretty straightforward though. You don’t have to spread your attention to ten different places and acquire multiple devices, fiddle through the settings for hours to finally make it all work.

There’s an initial charge for the SSL VPN server or gateway where you have to pay a license for the number of users that will operate on it. Later on, if the number of users exceeds the license limit, then you’ll have to purchase another license. Or you can also replace the server with a more complex version that allows for more operational power.

If we’re talking about big corporations and organizations with a lot of work-power, the SSL VPN appliance licenses will need to be authenticated for each individual user on the network. For more security and to ensure better data protection, the multifactor authentication is encouraged.

End users will also require good support in choosing a good web browser, navigating dialog boxes or executing some specific clients, and maintaining the dedicated client application.

4. Cyber-security to the max with SSL-encrypted VPN appliance

These products work based on the infrastructure of a browser, accessing the client’s functions and features, with a dedicated app similar to smartphone and tablet clients. You normally won’t have to change the settings or make new configurations. The default settings are perfectly suited to provide the highest level of security available.

They offer end-to-end users good encryption and only the best security that ensures all communication and confidential data stay private no matter what. Invasive attempts and malware-directed attacks are doomed to fail in the face of an SSL VPN appliance.

They stop any third party from accessing your sensitive data, and more than that, they make up a closed system that’s incredibly hard to break. Looking at all the features and optional methods it provides like firewall protection and load balancing, you wouldn’t believe how cheap it is to set up.

Good protection for a very accessible price. What more could you want?

Written by: Bogdan Patru

Author, creative writer, and tech-geek. Bogdan has followed his passion for the digital world ever since he got his hands of his first pc. After years of accumulating knowledge and experience, the good Samaritan in him whispered him one day about the virtue of sharing that knowledge with those who needed it. It was 2014 when that idea would grow into a life-defining passion. One that keeps driving him to this day.