SSL VPNs use the same encryption protocol that helps keep websites secure by transforming messages into an unreadable combination of numbers and letters. This means unauthorized devices can’t intercept the data sent to or from the network.
Unlike other types of VPNs, SSL VPNs don’t require additional software installations or complicated configuration. All you need is a modern browser.
What is an SSL VPN?
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a popular form of internet security that keeps data safe by transforming messages into an unreadable combination of numbers and letters. This encryption protocol also confirms the authenticity of websites and the validity of their certificates, a key feature for any website that wants to be trustworthy in the eyes of its visitors.
A VPN is a network connection that securely connects two devices over the Internet to exchange information privately and reliably. There are many VPNs, but the most common is an SSL VPN. SSL VPNs are typically used by businesses to provide secure remote access to network resources for employees, partners, and clients.
The specific details on the types of SSL VPN vary depending on the provider, but most have similar features. They use the SSL or TLS (Transport Layer Security) protocol in standard web browsers to establish a secure connection between a user’s device and a VPN server. This connection is encrypted end-to-end, protecting the data from eavesdropping.
SSL VPNs are also less expensive and easier to implement than other types. They don’t require additional installation software and can work with various devices, including mobile ones. They also provide better network access control by allowing users to connect to only the websites and services they need for their roles.
How do SSL VPNs work?
SSL VPNs encrypt data sent between the user’s device and the company’s network, creating an authenticated pathway that enables secure remote access. SSL VPNs utilize the SSL or — more recently, its successor, Transport Layer Security (TLS) — a protocol that’s implemented in standard web browsers to do so.
When users connect to an SSL VPN, they first access a web portal that verifies their credentials and establishes a secure connection. This connection is established through an SSL handshake, exchanging cryptographic keys and verifying the server’s certificate. Then, the SSL VPN tunnels the user’s device to specific applications on the network and encrypts any data transmitted between the two.
This is similar to how IPsec VPNs work, but with one major difference: SSL only secures the connection between a device and the web portal, while IPSec secures a device to networks. As a result, SSL-based solutions are more commonly used for client-to-network connections than IPSec-based ones.
Another advantage of SSL-based solutions is that they do not require specialized client software on endpoint devices. Unlike other tunneling security protocols such as Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP) and IP Security (IPSec), SSL VPNs require only a modern web browser to establish an SSL connection, which saves time and resources during deployment. In addition, these solutions can also scale to meet the needs of users in large enterprises.
What are the benefits of SSL VPNs?
SSL VPNs offer several benefits. They are easy to implement and don’t require specialized client software other than a modern browser. This makes them less costly than traditional IPSec VPNs. They also provide a higher level of device and client platform compatibility than other protocols and configurations for remote networks and firewalls.
In addition, SSL VPNs use TLS (transport layer security), a protocol for secure communications that can provide end-to-end encryption to protect data. This helps to prevent data breaches and ensure privacy. Additionally, SSL VPNs can work over UDP (User Datagram Protocol), which helps reduce latency when working with time-sensitive applications like voice and video.
Furthermore, SSL VPNs can operate inside web browsers, meaning they are less likely to be affected by malware such as man-in-the-middle attacks. However, they do not offer protection against attacks that target the operating system or other applications on a device.
Finally, SSL VPNs can scale dynamically, making them an excellent solution for organizations needing remote access to various devices. SSL VPNs can support enterprise-issued laptops, desktops and mobile devices and ensure the internet sessions of Bring Your Device (BYOD) systems. Moreover, they can also be deployed to users from multiple locations without requiring additional hardware or software.
What are the drawbacks of SSL VPNs?
As the world becomes increasingly digital, business communication occurs over the Internet. This applies to email, messaging apps and other cloud-based services that allow remote work. This communication comes with risks for the organization and its network host, so secure connections are important.
SSL VPNs can create these connections with minimal effort and no additional software installation on the end-user device, which makes them easy to deploy. They can also provide:
- Highly precise access rules.
- Building tunnels to specific applications rather than the enterprise network.
- Limiting risk.
However, a few drawbacks to SSL VPNs should be kept in mind. For example, since they operate at the transport layer, SSL VPNs can be more vulnerable to attacks that involve man-in-the-middle and adware that targets browsers. Furthermore, they only protect while the connection is open — the secure tunnel ends once you close your browser.