Using VPN To Access All Local Services Without The Need To Open Up Unnecessary Inbound Ports

Before knowing much about VPN, I usually opened up many inbound ports for my computer firewall and the firewall that resided within the router so remote services such as APF (Apple Time Machine) would function correctly.  Obviously, these remote services (e.g., APF, FTP, CIFS, etc…) are also accessible within local area network, therefore one does not need to have to be outside a local area network to use these remote services.  For an example, one can just sit next to the APF server (i.e., APF which hosts on a network attached storage) and locally backup one’s Mac to the Time Machine service.  When using such services locally, one has to use local IP addresses, because one  is within a local area network (e.g., home network, office network, etc…).

The idea is to open up less ports to protect everything within a local area network better.  So, when one travels abroad, one cannot use local IP addresses to access one’s remote services (e.g., APF, FTP, CIFS, etc…), and one has to open up ports for these remote services so remote access would be possible.  Since one has to open up inbound ports for remote connections, one’s local area network might become more vulnerable.  The more open ports there are, the more exploits that hackers can use to test or attack against the services that rely on the open ports.

Luckily, we have VPN.  VPN stands for Virtual Private Network.  Big companies love to deploy VPN for their employees.  If you have ever met one of those employees from one of those big companies, you might see this person logins into a VPN network through a laptop when this person is away from the company.  Since big companies are using VPN, VPN must be for the elites only right?  Wrong!  Just about anyone can use VPN to protect oneself, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to do so.  If you watch other videos of mine within my YouTube channel, you will see how easy it’s to set up VPN server/service on Windows 8.  Anyhow, the whole idea is to open up less ports for a network so everything within a network can be somewhat more secure.

Using VPN, one can access local area network as if one never leaves local area network all along.  For an example, one can sit at a Starbucks and yet connect to remote services(e.g., APF, CIFS, FTP, SSH, etc…) with local IP addresses.  How is this possible?  Like I said, using VPN, one never leaves local area network!  This is why VPN is definitely a better option than just opening up whatever inbound ports there are for different remote services.  With VPN, all one has to do is to open up one port which VPN relies on.  Through the connection of VPN, one then can just access all services within a local area network as if one has never leave a local area network all along.  In case you don’t know, VPN encrypts data automatically.  This is just another reason why I think VPN is definitely a better solution for remote access.

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Flash Drive Look-Alike iTwin Allows You To Access Remote Files Securely And Easy As Plug’n’Play

iTwin showed up at CES this month, and this product is pretty exciting.  I think iTwin is perfect for non-geek users.  Instead of having to mess around with networking, iTwin is all about Plug’n’Play.  iTwin resembles a small, thin flash drive.  The trick is when you split it into two parts, one part goes into the computer you want to have access to, the other part goes into the computer that you’re going to use.  Even better, the connection between two computers using iTwin encrypts with AES-256 encryption algorithm.  iTwin claims you can share unlimited files between two computers, and uploading and downloading files with unlimited sizes.  It doesn’t matter if you’re in Italy, and the computer you want to access is in USA, because iTwin is capable of connecting you anywhere.  You can also listen to music, stream movies, and so on using iTwin.  Basically, when using iTwin you’ve complete control of both computers.  iTwin claims you don’t even have to configure firewall to work with it, because iTwin will be able to work just fine behind firewall.  I think iTwin will not work behind a firewall if you’re actively preventing outgoing connection on port 443 (HTPS).

I can see iTwin is perfect for non-geek users.  Without any networking knowledge, and all non-geek users ever need is an Internet connection on both computers in order for iTwin to sync them together.  Since iTwin is using the Internet as the data transfer medium, your files can be transferred as fast as the speed of the Internet connection.  This makes a lot of sense for people who have super fast Internet connection!  Also, I surmise iTwin may even capable of allowing you to see all computers within Windows 7’s HomeGroup.  This means you have even more storage capacity on the go.  iTwin is supporting Windows, but later this year it will also support Mac.

I think iTwin is great for non-geek users, but in the hand of geek users, iTwin can be very lethal.  Well, for the good guys, these people are harmless.  For the bad guys, it’s a different story.  Imagine an anonymous user who walks into your office, finds an obscure computer within the network, sticks iTwin into this very computer and walks away to avoid the wary eyes.  As long the half part of iTwin is connecting to such a computer in your network, the perpetrator can hack the network with ease.  It’s totally understandable nowadays many work places disallow the usage of flash drives, because virus and malicious software can do great harm to their networks.  iTwin isn’t a malicious hardware/software, but it’s can be used for evil purposes.  I guess it all comes down to the users, because the tools are just that!

In summary, iTwin is awesome for whoever wants to access files on a remote computer.  Unfortunately, the bad guys can use iTwin for evil purposes.  iTwin costs around $99 before sale tax.  I think the price is fair for the people who want to access remote files securely for iTwin encrypts its connection with AES-256.  What you think about iTwin?  Click on the link below to check out the video on this device.

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=17592415&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show
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iTwin: Unlimited Capacity USB Remote File Access Device from iTwinCast on Vimeo.

Honest confession:  I have never used iTwin ever before in my life.  Reviewing this product is only based on what iTwin claims it can do.  Therefore, you may want to take this blog post/product review with a grain of salt.  Have you yourself ever used iTwin before?  Got something good or bad to say about it?  You can write your own review about iTwin in the comment section below this post.