Extra Credit 4: Virtual Private Network (VPN)

VPNs are becoming more and more common as people want to increase their privacy and security while roaming around on public networks. Large enterprises have been using VPNs to add another layer of protection to their internal network resources like file servers and enterprise applications.


As IoT devices become more common, controlling them from mobile devices like tablets and cellphones is becoming a necessity. A downside to this is allowing these devices to be accessed through public networks. It’s devices like baby cams and routers that were compromised and caused the massive internet disruption in May 2016, for example.

There is even a website called Shodan that is a search engine for Internet-connected devices! A firewall and VPN can ensure home and office devices do not show up on lists like these.

What a VPN does is securely connect a remote device over the internet to the local network, as if the device was at home or in the office.  This way, sensitive or valuable resources like baby cams, lighting, thermostats, and more can be more securely controlled. They are not exposed to the hackers and malware attacking IoT devices today, turning them into listening posts, spycams, or even zombies in a botnet army attacking the internet.

Setup of a VPN can be complicated (the topic for another article), but can be well worth the effort when it comes to securely accessing home or office networks remotely.