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What is the difference between a VPN and remote control?

Mike Chapple reviews VPNs, remote controls, and how the two security technologies can be used in tandem.

What is the difference between a VPN and remote control?
Virtual private networks (VPNs) use encryption to provide a means to securely connect to a remote network over the Internet. Effectively, they provide "virtual" access to the physical network as if you were physically located in the office. The use of encryption on the connection protects your communications from prying eyes as they travel over the Internet. Many organizations use VPNs to provide travelling and work-at-home employees with secure access to the enterprise network.

Remote access systems, such as Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection, Virtual Network Computing (VNC) and similar

products, allow you to connect to a computer over the network and manipulate it with your mouse and keyboard as if you were sitting at the computer. When you connect to the remote system, you will be prompted to enter your username and password before gaining access.

Many enterprises use these two technologies in tandem for security reasons. Users who wish to make remote access connections to use computers on the corporate network must first connect to the VPN and then establish the remote access connection. This strategy prevents unknown Internet users from directly attempting unauthorized remote access connections, providing an added layer of security.

This was first published in June 2009

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