Sharel Cassity is a world-class jazz saxophonist by night, and she is studying to become a RHEL Sysadmin by day. Her dream is to one day get hired by Google, and to form a Google Employees' Jazz Ensemble at Google's California headquarters. Please answer the folloing questions to increase Sharel's knowledge on Virtual Private Networks (please note that Sharel prefers the term "Free Sofware" to "open source"):

  1. What is a VPN?
  2. What is the history of VPNs?
  3. What problem does a VPN solve?
  4. Sharel's Red Hat server hostname is Sharel.RHEL.Server01. How would she implement a VPN on her server? Please show and explain all commands that she would have to run.
  5. What are some Free Software implementations of VPN software?

Certainly! I’d be happy to help Sharel with information on Virtual Private Networks (VPNs).

1. What is a VPN?

A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a technology that creates a secure and encrypted connection over a less secure network, such as the internet. It enables users to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if their computing devices were directly connected to a private network.

2. What is the history of VPNs?

  • 1990s: The concept of VPN originated in the 1990s when the internet started becoming common in households and businesses. Companies needed a way to securely communicate over the internet, which led to the creation of VPN technology.
  • Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP): In 1996, a Microsoft employee developed PPTP, which played a significant role in the proliferation of VPN technology.
  • Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP): Later, in collaboration with Cisco, L2TP was created, which improved upon PPTP.
  • OpenVPN and Advancements: OpenVPN was a significant advancement that came in 2001, providing more security. Over time, various encryption algorithms and protocols were added to improve VPN security and performance.

3. What problem does a VPN solve?

VPNs solve multiple problems related to online privacy and security:

  • Encrypted Connection: Encrypts the internet connection making it secure.
  • Remote Access: Allows accessing a private network remotely, useful for remote work or accessing resources while travelling.
  • Bypassing Geo-restrictions and Censorship: Allows accessing content that may be restricted or censored in some regions.
  • Secure Sharing: Facilitates secure sharing of information over the internet.

4. Implementing a VPN on Sharel's Red Hat Server

Sharel can set up OpenVPN, a Free Software, on her Red Hat server. Here are the steps and commands she should follow:

  1. Install OpenVPN
    sudo yum install openvpn
  2. Navigate to the OpenVPN directory
    cd /etc/openvpn/
  3. Generate server keys and certificates (Sharel might want to use a tool like easy-rsa to do this)
  4. Create and Configure the OpenVPN server configuration file (server.conf)
  5. Start the OpenVPN server
    systemctl start openvpn@server
  6. Enable the OpenVPN server to start on boot
    systemctl enable openvpn@server

Note: This is a high-level overview, and detailed configuration including setting up routing, firewall rules, and client configurations should be considered.

5. Free Software Implementations of VPN software

  • OpenVPN: Highly configurable and secure. It’s a popular choice and widely adopted.
  • WireGuard: A simpler, newer, and faster VPN with state-of-the-art cryptography.
  • strongSwan: Primarily used for IPsec VPNs.
  • Libreswan: A Free Software implementation for securing IP traffic.

Sharel might want to research further and select a VPN software that best suits her needs and expertise level. And all the best to Sharel in forming the Google Employees' Jazz Ensemble! 🎷🎶

This article was updated on October 30, 2023

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