The following article aims to provide a brief introduction to the concept of mobile VPN, how it works and its potential applications in business and the public sector.
A Virtual Private Network or VPN is a mechanism which allows users to securely connect to local networks from remote locations across public networks using encrypted parcels of data and authentication at each end point.
The term mobile VPN, or mVPN, refers to systems in which users of portable devices such as mobile phones, tablets and laptops connect securely to fixed local networks from remote locations, across the internet, by connecting initially to wireless networks or mobile phone carrier networks. The key challenges for mobile VPNs relate to the fact that the user and their device will, by definition, be mobile. They will need to be accessing their VPN connection from differing networks, often roaming between networks as they are on the move and occasionally experiencing moments offline between these networks (or as they put their device to sleep). The aim of a mobile VPN is to allow the device to be authenticated when connecting from this variety of networks and to maintain the VPN Reseller session as the user and their device roam.
The problem this poses, however, is manifold. Firstly, the IP address of the client device will vary depending on where they are accessing the network from, making authentication harder. The device may be assigned a dynamic IP address anyway (which will therefore change every time they connect), regardless of its location, but in addition the device's IP address will change each time it connects from a different mobile or wireless network (Wi-Fi hotspot). What's more, when the user is roaming across networks, the identity of the device end point will be changing each time they do switch from one to another. Secondly, the moments when the device is offline when the it is in a location without an available network, is switching from one to another or is idle can result in the suspension of the VPN session.