An SSL VPN (Secure Sockets Layer virtual private network) is a form of VPN that can be used with a standard Web browser. In contrast to the traditional Internet Protocol Security (IPsec) VPN, an SSL VPN does not require the installation of specialized client software on the end user's computer. It's used to give remote users with access to Web applications, client/server applications and internal network connections.
A virtual private network (VPN) provides a secure communications mechanism for data and other information transmitted between two endpoints. An SSL VPN consists of one or more VPN devices to which the user connects by using his Web browser. The traffic between the Web browser and the SSL VPN device is encrypted with the SSL protocol or its successor, the Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol.
An SSL VPN offers versatility, ease of use and granular control for a range of users on a variety of computers, accessing resources from many locations. There are two major types of SSL VPNs:
- SSL Portal VPN: This type of SSL VPN allows for a single SSL connection to a Web site so the end user can securely access multiple network services. The site is called a portal because it is one door (a single page) that leads to many other resources. The remote user accesses the SSL VPN gateway using any modern Web browser, identifies himself or herself to the gateway using an authentication method supported by the gateway and is then presented with a Web page that acts as the portal to the other services.