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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Quick Tech Tip: Point-to-point tunneling protocol - PPTP

Overview of Point-to-point Protocol:

The Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP) provides a standard method for transporting multi-protocol datagrams over point-to-point links. PPP was originally emerged as an encapsulation protocol for transporting IP traffic between two peers.PPP is comprised of the following main components:
* Encapsulation: A method for encapsulating multi-protocol datagrams.
* Link Control Protocol: The LCP is used to automatically agree upon the encapsulation format options, handle varying limits on sizes of packets, detect a looped-back link and other common misconfiguration errors, and terminate the link.
* Network Control Protocol: An extensible Link Control Protocol (LCP) for establishing, configuring, and testing and managing the data-link connections.
* Configuration: Easy and self configuration mechanisms using Link Control Protocol. This mechanism is also used by other control protocols such as Network Control Protocols (NCPs).

Introduction TO PPTP :

PPTP packages data within PPP packets, then encapsulates the PPP packets within IP packets (datagrams) for transmission through an Internet-based VPN tunnel. PPTP supports data encryption and compression of these packets.
The PPTP protocol is designed to perform the following tasks:
* Query the status of Comm Servers
* Provide In-Band management
* Allocate channels and place outgoing calls
* Notify NT Server on incoming calls
* Transmit and Receive User Data with flow control in both directions
* Notify NT Server on disconnected calls.

PPTP-based Internet remote access VPNs are by far the most common form of PPTP VPN. In this environment, VPN tunnels are created via the following two-step process:
1. The PPTP client connects to their ISP using PPP dial-up networking.
2. Via the broker device (described earlier), PPTP creates a TCP control connection between the VPN client and VPN server to establish a tunnel.

Once the VPN tunnel is established, PPTP supports two types of information flow:
* control messages for managing and eventually tearing down the VPN connection. Control messages pass directly between VPN client and server.
* data packets that pass through the tunnel, to or from the VPN client.

PPTP also supports VPN connectivity via a LAN.
PPTP supports authentication, encryption, and packet filtering.

Though PPTP remains a popular choice for VPNs, one drawback of PPTP is its failure to choose a single standard for authentication and encryption. Two products that both fully comply with the PPTP specification may be totally incompatible with each other if they encrypt data differently.

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