What is a VPN Concentrator?
Designed to complement VPN apps, a VPN Concentrator is a networking device (similar to a router in shape and size) that enhances secure connections between users connected through VPN. VPN concentrators are exclusively designed to deliver communication data & messages to each end of the VPN nodes.
It can create a connection either between a single user with a LAN connection or LAN to LAN. Just like a VPN, it has a highly secured connection through a tunnel which is also encrypted. All data is encapsulated, transmitted, received and deciphered on the other end. It is capable of handling multiple VPN connections remotely as well.
Currently there are a large number of manufacturers that sell VPN concentrators for very attractive prices, where as they cost around $25,000 – $35,000 back in 2001. Today you can buy from a hue list of manufacturers including Cisco, Meraki, Netgear, Visio, Shoretel, Fortigate, Juniper, Sonicwall etc.
Why You Need A VPN Concentrator?
A VPN Concentrator is most useful for businesses with multiple users’ accessing their networks. The VPN concentrator allows employees, customers and other stakeholders to easily connect to an enterprise server or database with highest security. Usually these network connections are made over LAN to LAN, a good example of VPN concentrator is the connection between an organization’s branch offices with its headquarters.
VPN Concentrators are usually configured to carry out the following functions:
- Create encrypted tunnels
- Negotiate tunnel parameters
- Provide users with highly secured authentication
- Proactively encrypts and decrypts data
- Manages data transmitted across its tunnel
- Handles data transfers inbound and outbound as a router
VPN Concentrator providers like Cisco generally have their own protocols to setup & configure routers. Beginners who are not experts with VPN should consider following illustrated guides to setup a VPN Concentrator.
Why Use a VPN Concentrator for Home Networks?
Many users’ believe that VPN Concentrators are an enterprise only device, but it can be a great addition for home user security. When users connect to websites or accesses virtual cloud networks like Amazon Web Services, they leave a door open for hackers that may use the IP address the user was on and infiltrate his cloud privacy.
Netizens who stream movie online, download torrents, use cloud storage and other insecure services should consider VPN Concentrator protection. In addition to the above VPN concentrators are a great way to access corporate servers & databases securely from home. Even if the office network is protected with a VPN Concentrator, home networks will still be unsafe and present a major vulnerability for hackers to exploit.
The only downside to using VPN concentrators at home is that they are very expensive to buy. The Cisco 3020 for instance is an older model but still costs a massive $1,200.
VPN Concentrator or Firewall? Which is best?
Now that we know what a VPN concentrator is, let’s have a look at what firewalls accomplish for online users.
As Palo Alto Networks describe them, a firewall is a network traffic controller that can be hardware (routers&VPN concentrators) or software based (Windows built-in Firewall, VPN app firewalls, Internet security software). A firewall inspects data packets flowing in and out of your devices, accepting or rejecting data packets. The criteria of accepting or rejecting data packets is based on trusted & untrusted zone lists that a firewall maintains but can also be manually configured by the user.
Firewalls implement what are known as “access controls”deploying a positive control model.The positive control model establishes that only traffic that is acceptable by the firewall policy is allowed to pass through to the user’s network; traffic that doesn’t comply is denied access.
When comparing the two, it is probably best to mention now that VPN concentrators come equipped with their own built in Next Generation Firewall technology.You can always choose a stand-alonefirewall but a VPN concentrator comes built in with advanced NGFW features built in.
Choosing between a VPN Concentrator for home, a firewall software or VPN service with firewall features is highly dependent on the type of user. A person who only uses the internet for browsing can simply do with a firewall. Alternatively, home users that communicate, watch TV & movies, and download torrents can do with a VPN service. Businesses however should consider a VPN concentrator, for both home & branch offices, for its vast advanced security benefits.
In a Nutshell
As hackers discover new vulnerabilities and back doors to breach both business & home users with ease, netizens need new ways to secure themselves. VPN concentrators are a great way to enhance online privacy &enrich data security procedures, but mostly for businesses. Although home users and small businesses can consider VPN concentrators there is always the option to use a premium VPN service or a single firewall depending on their usage.
Learn more about premium VPN services in case VPN concentrators are not your cup of tea. Hope you enjoyed our article like, share and comment in the section below. Alternatively, add us on Twitter @VPNBest to stay connected.