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March 24, 1998

Virtual Private Networks - Data Security over Internet Lines

Sebastopol, CA--Historically, only large companies could afford secure networks, which they created from expensive leased lines. Everyone else had to make do with the relatively unsecure Internet. Nowadays, even huge corporations have to go outside their private nets, because so many people telecommute or log in while they're on the road. Network administrators as well as managers must balance security concerns with employees' demand for easy accessibility to data-grappling with the question: "how do you provide a low-cost, secure electronic network for your organization?"

One solution is a virtual private network (VPN): a collection of technologies that creates secure connections or "tunnels" over regular Internet lines-connections that can be easily used by anybody logging in from anywhere. Key advantages offered by a VPN include universal connectivity, security, and low cost. Until now, a key disadvantage was the lack of documentation available to network administrators considering implementing a VPN.

O'Reilly's newest release, Virtual Private Networks describes how to plan and build a VPN. It covers general concerns like costs, configuration, and how a VPN fits in with other networking technologies like firewalls, as well as providing detailed descriptions of how to install and use VPN technologies that are available for Windows NT and UNIX, such as PPTP and L2TP, the Altavista Tunnel, and the Cisco PIX Firewall.

Virtual Private Networks author Mike Erwin warns: "Just like in the real world, security is one of life's little things that needs to be addressed and re-addressed, and tested and probed, and re-done; constantly underfoot. Without firewalls, a VPN could exist, with some paranoia, but without encryption it most certainly could not. Cipher routines are what solve the fundamental problem of secure communication over an insecure channel in a hostile environment."

"In many companies in the near future, modem banks and remote access servers may become a thing of the past." says author Charlie Scott. "Many ISPs are offering VPN capabilities as a service, and it's important for network administrators to understand the issues involved." Virtual Private Networks gives network administrators all the information they need to decide whether to implement a VPN and step-by-step instructions on how to do it.

About the Authors

Charlie Scott is the senior vice president of OuterNet Connection Strategies, Inc., an Internet service provider and outsource company based in Austin, Texas. Charlie has also co-authored a half-dozen Internet-related books on topics ranging from electronic commerce to CGI programming.

Paul Wolfe has done everything from drive M1A1 tanks in Desert Storm to sling computer chips for Motorola. He has written four books in the last two years covering such topics as Windows NT web servers, Internet commerce, VRML, and Virtual Private Networks.

Mike Erwin is the president and chief executive officer of OuterNet Connection Strategies, Inc. Mike is the co-author of several other works, including the CGI Bible, Building Web Commerce Sites, and the 60 Minute Guide to VRML. Mike's technology related interests involve encryption algorithms, super computing, Distributed Operating Systems, universe game simulations, and building secondary securities markets on the Net.

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Virtual Private Networks
By Charlie Scott, Paul Wolfe & Mike Erwin
1st Edition March 1998 (US)
200 pages, 1-56592-319-7, $29.95 (US)

About O'Reilly

O'Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O'Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying "faint signals" from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. An active participant in the technology community, the company has a long history of advocacy, meme-making, and evangelism.

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