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VPN Help

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
I'm pretty good with computers (lol).

But when it comes to using Proxies or a VPN, I have no idea.

Can someone help me learn what a VPN and Proxy is and how I can use them?

I don't have money to spend, and this would just be off and on simple stuff. Not any heavy, pro stuff.
Edited by kennyparker1337 - 2/10/13 at 5:57am
post #2 of 5
A VPN is a theoretically secure, private link to another network. Fundamentally, these are most commonly used in two ways: one, to link offices together so that they can easily share resources. This is what is referred to as a "site to site" VPN, commonly using IPSEC. Thanks to the VPN, users at linked sites can utilize printers, shared drives, etc. that are at the other site. Let's say Site A uses 192.168.1.0/24 and Site B uses 192.168.2.0/24. If the sites are linked together with a site to site VPN, users at Site B can access the 192.168.1.100 file server at Site A simply by browsing to that IP, which is the same way that users at Site A access it.

Here's the second way. Individual users can use a different flavor of VPN that may utilize PPTP or L2TP. These are not bi-directional in the truest sense unlike site to site VPNs. A site to site VPN allows both parties to "see" the other end of the connection; IE, Site A can "see" Site B's resources and vice versa. L2TP and PPTP allow the initiator to "see" the resources on the target network, but users on the target network cannot "see" the initiator of the VPN. Therefore, L2TP and PPTP are typically used for laptop users who need to "dial in" to their corporate network to access shared folders or even programs. L2TP and PPTP connections are turned on and off at will while site to site connections are typically left on all the time.

Proxies are basically relays for web traffic. Rather than contacting the destination server directly, you query the proxy which then queries the destination server. They can be used to bypass content filtering and access data not intended to be viewed outside of a certain area. In extremely basic terms, this works because the content filtering is looking to block www.badwebsite.com but it may not be configured to block www.iamasciptkiddyproxymeallnightbaby.com. Because you're accessing the content "through" the proxy, the content filtering will not work. In theory.

For accessing "geographically restricted" content, you may not have permission to view www.meloveyoulongtime.com.cn from the US, but you can access www.ahsoproxyman.com.cn, which can then be used to access the intended destination.
    
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post #3 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oedipus View Post

A VPN is a theoretically secure, private link to another network. Fundamentally, these are most commonly used in two ways: one, to link offices together so that they can easily share resources. This is what is referred to as a "site to site" VPN, commonly using IPSEC. Thanks to the VPN, users at linked sites can utilize printers, shared drives, etc. that are at the other site. Let's say Site A uses 192.168.1.0/24 and Site B uses 192.168.2.0/24. If the sites are linked together with a site to site VPN, users at Site B can access the 192.168.1.100 file server at Site A simply by browsing to that IP, which is the same way that users at Site A access it.

Here's the second way. Individual users can use a different flavor of VPN that may utilize PPTP or L2TP. These are not bi-directional in the truest sense unlike site to site VPNs. A site to site VPN allows both parties to "see" the other end of the connection; IE, Site A can "see" Site B's resources and vice versa. L2TP and PPTP allow the initiator to "see" the resources on the target network, but users on the target network cannot "see" the initiator of the VPN. Therefore, L2TP and PPTP are typically used for laptop users who need to "dial in" to their corporate network to access shared folders or even programs. L2TP and PPTP connections are turned on and off at will while site to site connections are typically left on all the time.

Proxies are basically relays for web traffic. Rather than contacting the destination server directly, you query the proxy which then queries the destination server. They can be used to bypass content filtering and access data not intended to be viewed outside of a certain area. In extremely basic terms, this works because the content filtering is looking to block www.badwebsite.com but it may not be configured to block www.iamasciptkiddyproxymeallnightbaby.com. Because you're accessing the content "through" the proxy, the content filtering will not work. In theory.

For accessing "geographically restricted" content, you may not have permission to view www.meloveyoulongtime.com.cn from the US, but you can access www.ahsoproxyman.com.cn, which can then be used to access the intended destination.

That's a very good explanation.

@OP - Does that sufficiently answer your question, or do you want to know how to setup a VPN or Proxy. Both can be done for free, though the process is different and dependent on what you want from said VPN/Proxy.
    
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post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 
This helped me understand what a VPN is. Thank you. +REP

I guess the reason I never understood VPN is because I never had a use for it.

I pretty much knew what proxies were already but thanks for clarifying it.


The other main aspect I was looking for was how to actually use a proxy and/or (one-way; L2TP / PPTP) VPN.
Just learned that L2TP is superior to PPTP.

I know Firefox has a proxy option, but unsure how you would use VPN.

Also on the proxy, I don't know how to determine what is safe to use.

I realize this can be done by Google searching, but so can anything else. Also, getting help from my main tech website seemed better than random Google sites.

Edited by kennyparker1337 - 2/10/13 at 8:05pm
post #5 of 5
Never use PPTP for anything, glad you discovered that.

My preference is for IPSec or OpenVPN depending on the circumstance.

VPN connections are not configured from the browser and almost always need additional software to negotiate the connection.
    
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