VPNs have completely transformed how we conduct business. Business partners and remote office employees can now access sensitive business data via the internet anywhere and anytime. No wonder so many companies have made VPN authentication and security a top priority.
Without a doubt, VPNs assure the much needed online protection. This is thanks to a few types of secure tunnels for information to flow through from the user, through the web, and to its intended location.
To ensure total security, your VPN should be backed by a reliable user authentication method to protect its endpoints. Your password and username are not sufficient. These are the most targeted elements by cybercriminals, hence they are prone to keylogging, cracking and hacking. If the password is compromised, your company can face a data breach.
But a strong authentication mechanism ensures full security in today’s mobile workforce. It ensures that you never lose control over who can tap into your network. Authentication solutions work flawlessly with all renowned VPN products.
In conjunction with world-class partners, your VPN authenticator should provide a robust and secure solution. A proper authentication system includes multiple methods, such as one-time passwords, software tokens, and user certificates. It must provide secure access from whichever platform you use to access online information. That is, it gives unmatched support for certificate-bound access on such operating systems as Mac, Linux, and Windows.
Moreover, your authentication mechanism should facilitate straightforward deployment with the system that manages your VPN’s overall security. Keep in mind that a VPN server is configured to use RADIUS — Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service or Windows as the provider of authentication. When using Windows authentication, the credentials that allow access to the VPN connection are verified with the usual authentication methods of the Windows operating system.
If RADIUS authentication is deployed, the credentials of the VPN user have to pass through the RADIUS server for approval. Once RADIUS receives your request you’ll get a message: “Before you access a VPN connection, please enter your authentication information.” Once you provide your password, username, certificates, etc, then you are able to access the internet via the VPN.
What causes an authentication failure?
Authentication failures are connection attempts that end with an error message saying authentication has failed. Such an error is generally caused by two things.
First, your authentication credentials could be wrong. For instance, you might have typed in a wrong password or username. Perhaps you’ve recently changed your password and forgot about it. The second reason could be that you’ve reached the maximum number of simultaneous sessions.
Understanding authentication methods and protocols
Over time, newer and better technologies have been developed and subsequently, the existing VPNs have improved. However, VPN-specific technologies like tunneling protocols haven’t undergone many changes. Most of the trusted VPN providers today are doing a great job at securing business information that is passed or stored in the cloud.
There are various VPN authentication methods through which VPN users are identified. These protocols can grant or deny you access to a network depending on your credentials.
Of all the VPN authentication protocols, Password Authentication Protocol (PAP) is probably the simplest scheme. It requests a username in conjunction with a password. PAP returns a response in plaintext.
As you can imagine, this mechanism is not sufficiently secure, since malicious internet users can compromise your password and username and use them to tap into the Network Access Server (NAS) and subsequently capture your information provided by the NAS.
ID control USB token
Do you know how to control authentication over a VPN? Store your credentials in stronger authentication solutions like the ID control USB token. When your credentials are saved there, you can easily manage your secret keys and reduce the hassle.
The authentication process becomes easier and with less interference. An ID control server efficiently helps the authentication system to distribute and manage the security software known as Secure VPN Authentication.
Handy ID/Message ID
Your authenticator can provide an SMS-based authentication token in a mobile app. As long as you enter the right PIN for HandyID, your device connects to a VPN through a one-time-password.
The HandyID, in conjunction with Secure VPN Authentication, can be used in Single sign-on to ensure the safety of web applications. This is an OTP solution that is time-sensitive and based on counter-response security approaches.
Challenge Handshake Authentication Protocol (CHAP)
CHAP is a form of an encrypted authentication solution that deters the transmission of your real password in the process of connecting to a VPN. Normally, the NAS will send a challenge, consisting of a series of IDs plus an arbitrary challenge string.
To go back to your username, you have to use MD5 one-way hash algorithms, a password, a session ID, and another hash challenge. CHAP is a more advanced PAP authentication variant since it doesn’t use plaintext.
Microsoft Challenge-Handshake Authentication Protocol (MS-CHAP) can often be confused with CHAP. Just like CHAP, your NAS sends you a challenge containing a series of arbitrary strings and session IDs. You are required to provide your username in addition to an MD4-hashed password, an encrypted challenge string, and a session ID.
MD4 hash facilitates an extra layer of protection. It lets the server hold hashed codes rather than clear unencrypted passwords. What’s more, MS-CHAP allows you to change your password during authentication.
If your online business requires Citrix VPN authentication with little interference, you should consider Keystroke ID. This scheme scrutinizes your use of keystroke before you are granted access to a VPN connection.
Keystroke ID utilizes biometrics and monitors how you type credentials on your keyboard. Note that this method can be used together with the ID control USB token or HandyID.
What to do in case of an authentication failure
If your VPN password fails and you receive an error message, what should you do?
First, check your VPN username. Check it in the VPN client section. Next, confirm that you have keyed in the correct password. By default, it should be the same password you used to sign up for a VPN plan. Sometimes you might forget an uppercase or a special character. Remember that a space character is never used anywhere.
If, after confirming the above information, you still cannot connect to VPN, try changing your password to connect again. When using Mac OS and Tunnelblick, you must not add non-ASCII characters to your password.
If the connection problem persists, there is a high likelihood that your account has been suspended. So, you need to verify that your VPN account is still active in the client section. If it’s suspended, renew it and it shall instantly be activated.
The significance of effective VPN authentication
While most VPN authentication systems use the user’s ID and password only, an increasing concern about online security demands multiple authentication factors, like OTP and biometric keystroke ID.
The best mechanisms combine multiple authorization procedures depending on the needs of the VPN user. A strong authentication system is paramount for a sound and layered strategy against data breaches. It also ensures regulatory compliance. An effective solution allows your company to comply with industrial mandates.
As more and more entities continue to use VPN services, a rising number of enterprises prefer to work with VPN clients that provide higher internet speeds and online security.
The failure of VPN systems can lead to significant losses. Hopefully, you understand how to choose the right VPN for your business needs. Beyond selecting the best VPN on the market, you should choose the ones with the strongest authentication protocols.