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Remote Access

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Security+ Study Guide

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[edit section] Remote Access

One of the most ever-present and ancient uses of the Internet and networking has been to provide remote access to networks or network resources. Since the early 1980’s, different remote access protocols have existed to allow users to remotely “dial in” to a network of choice; while some of these protocols have come and gone, many of them remain widely in use even today in dial-up WAN access and business VPN networks. The Security+ examination will test you on your ability to identify the security features, benefits, and costs of several types of remote access protocols and services.

[edit section] RAS

RAS, or Remote Access Service, is a rarely-used, unsecure, and outdated Microsoft offering in the area of remote access technology. You should know for the exam that RAS provides dial-up access and once was the protocol of choice for connecting to the Internet.

[edit section] PPP

RAS was eventually replaced by PPP, the most common dial-up networking protocol today. PPP, or point-to-point protocol, utilizes a direct connection from a client to WAN over TCP/IP. This is advantageous for dial-up networking services as most people today wish to be able to use the Internet, which of course requires TCP/IP networking. When you think dial-up access, think PPP.


[edit section] Secure Connections

The next group of technologies is considered “secure” in that the technologies set up an encrypted, sometimes “tunneled,” and difficult-to-intercept connection. These are the technologies typically employed in VPN (Virtual Private Network) applications and corporate remote networks.


[edit section] PPTP

Point-to-point tunneling protocol, or PPTP, is a tunneling protocol that can encapsulate connection-oriented PPP packets (which are simple remote access packets) into connectionless IP packets. In doing so, the data remains within the “IP capsule,” which prevents sniffing and other outside manipulation. PPTP is a client-server system that requires a PPTP client, a PPTP server, and a special network access server to provide normal PPP service. PPTP is commonly used to set up “Virtual Private Networks,” which are like LAN’s that are spread across the Internet so that multiple remote clients can connect to one logical network.


[edit section] L2TP

Like PPTP, L2TP (Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol) utilizes a tunneling protocol, but unlike PPTP, L2TP utilizes IPSec (IP Security) to encrypt data all the way from the client to the server. Because of this, L2TP data is difficult to intercept. L2TP can accommodate protocols other than IP to send datagrams and is therefore more versatile; it is also common in VPN applications.

Implementation of L2TP, a popular tunneling protocol

[edit section] SSL

SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer, is a technology employed to allow for transport-layer security via public-key encryption. What you should know about this for the exam is that SSL is typically employed over HTTP, FTP, and other Application-layer protocols to provide security. HTTPS (HTTP over SSL) is particularly used by web merchants, credit card validation companies, and banks to ensure data security (think: lock icon)


[edit section] Kerberos

Kerberos is a *Nix (Unix-like) technology that is also being implemented in Microsoft technology to allow for client-server authentication over a network based on a shared key system. Kerberos is a public-key encryption technology and therefore is considered quite modern.

[edit section] Quick Review

1. You wish to implement VPN access so that an attorney can connect to the firm’s network remotely. Which remote access protocol might you use?

a. LDAP

b. PPTP

c. PPP

d. SSL

e. IPSec


2. A user complains that he cannot access a website because he does not have “some protocol” enabled. What is this protocol most likely to be?

a. FTP

b. HTTP over SSL

c. FTP over SSL

d. PPTP

e. VPN


3. Your manager wants to make sure that when he dials in to a faraway corporate network, his connection is very secure and reliable. Which of the following is the most secure and reliable RAS?

a. RAS

b. PPP

c. PPTP

d. L2TP

e. HTTP

[edit section] Answers

1. Of the choices, only PPTP can be used to implement VPN. Note that IPSec is a feature of IP and not a remote access protocol in its own right, though it is used by L2TP. The answer is B.


2. Websites are typically accessed through the HTTP protocol, so it is likely that the website is SSL-enabled and that he does not have that technology enabled on his client PC. The answer is B.


3. L2TP is most secure as it features both tunneling and encryption, which none of the other protocols listed can provide. The answer is D.

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