Network connectivity in Windows can take many different forms. In this video, you’ll learn about VPN connectivity, dialup networks, wireless and wired networks, and more.
There are many ways to network with Microsoft Windows. And the way that you set up most of these networks is from the control panel. Choose the Network and Sharing Center and select to set up a new connection or a network. And when you do that, you’ll get a step-by-step wizard that steps you through exactly the process to get that network configuration going. You’ll find many different network configurations for direct networking, VPN, dial-up and others as well.
A virtual private network, or VPN, is a very common way to communicate securely from your device to another. One very common scenario is to have your device that might be out at a coffee shop, and you want to communicate to your corporate network devices. But you don’t want anybody to be able to look at this information as it’s traversing this link.
You would commonly take advantage of this by using a VPN concentrator at your corporate office. You would configure software in Windows to be able to create this private, encrypted tunnel between your laptop and this VPN concentrator. That means that nobody in between would be able to understand any of the information sent back and forth because all of this data is encrypted.
On the VPN concentrator side, it’s going to look at your encrypted data. It will decrypt that information and send it internally to your private corporate network. To get back to your computer, the process is reversed. The information goes to the VPN concentrator. It encrypts all of the data, sends it securely to your laptop, and the software on your laptop then decrypts the information and makes it available to your operating system.
This VPN software is something that’s included with Windows. You don’t need to load any additional software to include this capability. It’s common to have people integrate also a smart card for multi-factor authentication.
Multi-factor means that you’re using multiple methods to be able to authenticate onto this network. It might be something you know like a username and password. It might be something you have like a token generator. And it might be something you are like a fingerprint reader on your laptop.
To start the VPN configuration, you simply click the network icon at the bottom of the screen. You provide your credentials. And it creates the VPN tunnel for secure communication between you and your corporate office.
We don’t always have access to a high speed wireless network. Sometimes we need to plug into a traditional phone line and be able to communicate over that connection. These dial-up connections are using a modem and their software within Windows that’s able to talk back and forth to that modem and transfer information. You need to provide authentication details for the dial-up connection and the phone number. And there’s a Connect and Disconnect option on the network status, where you can have your system dial the phone line, connect to the remote device, and then disconnect when the session is over.
A very common network connection of Windows would be to a wireless network. These are 802.11 wireless that use an SSID as the network name. SSID stands for Service Set Identification, and that’s where we see the list of networks that we would connect to.
We would, of course, choose a security type because you always want to send information over a wireless network in encrypted form. You never want to send information in the clear over a wireless network. You would choose an encryption type. Generally, these days we use AES, but older systems may only be able to use TKIP.
And then you choose the security key. You’re almost always going to choose either WPA2-Personal or WPA2-Enterprise. WPA2-Personal is going to use a pre-shared key, which means everybody uses the same key to connect to the wireless network.
If you’re at work, you’re probably using WPA2-Enterprise. This uses a protocol called 802.1X. And it uses a third-party authentication server so that you would use your normal work authentication to be able to connect to the wireless network.
One common network connection of Windows is plugging directly into an ethernet network. This is usually your fastest network. And your computer is going to decide where to send data based on what that fastest connection will be.
There’s also an option within the configuration to set an alternate configuration. That way if you move from one network to another, you can have Windows decide which one of these configuration should be used on which network.
For ultimate mobility you may want to connect to a mobile provider’s network over what we call a Wireless Wide Area Network. With a Wireless WAN the mobile technology is built into your computer with one of these adapter cards. And all you have to do is simply connect to the wireless network wherever you happen to be. This will often use third-party software to be able to connect. But once you’ve made the initial connection, you can now use your computer and connect to the internet over this wireless mobile network.