What is Tunneling?
In the computer networking sense, tunneling is a process of sending data – typically private communications – from one network to another through a public network such as the Internet.
It is also known as port forwarding.
How does tunneling work?
Data is divided up into smaller fractions of information, called “packets,” which flow through this digital tunnel.
As the fractions of data travel through the tunnel, they become encrypted and are caught up in a process referred to as encapsulation.
The pieces of data are, in a sense, disguised as public information, which allows for the information to be sent across the Internet.
Once the information has reached its destination, it’s de-capsulated.
Where is it used?
Some forms of tunneling allow a remote client to gain access or transfer data to a private network through the creation of a virtual private network, or VPN.
Some of the advantages to this system include enhanced security, lower hardware costs, and low overheard.
VPN tunnels provide remote clients with access to your network.
Remote users may be able to use VPN to access printers or file sharing at their place of employment.
For instance, an employee who is working out of town can gain access to files stored at corporate headquarters by using tunneling techniques.
Is tunneling safe?
Yes and no.
While tunneling is often used as a security protocol, the process does include some dangerous potentials for cybercriminals.
No system is free from the threat of being hacked or broken by those with evil intentions.
In a sense, hackers could use tunneling to get around an existing firewall.
Another danger is when a remote client connects to the Internet and a corporate network.
There are ways a malicious user could use the VPN client’s link to the corporate network to view some of that private data.
With access to private information, the potential for identity theft or even corporate espionage rises.
In some cases, the interactivity between various networks leaves systems vulnerable to viruses, worms, trojans or even spyware.