What Does OpenVPN Mean?

OpenVPN is an open-source virtual private network (VPN) protocol that utilizes SSL/TLS encryption to create secure and encrypted tunnels for data transmission. It operates across various operating systems like Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS. 

How OpenVPN Enables Secure Connection 

OpenVPN uses OpenSSL, a cryptography software library that incorporates the Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocols, which in turn secure communications. With a pre-shared key and a certificate, the OpenVPN client and server authenticate each other.  To protect data packets traveling through the tunnel, OpenVPN employs 256-bit encryption. This encryption provides the messages sent between the sender and receiver with confidentiality and tamper-proof. For instance, when a remote user wishes to access diagnostics information from a smart meter, they connect an OpenVPN client to the smart meter gateway, creating a secure tunnel between the two devices. 

Data Transport Choices: TCP or UDP 

On the transport layer, OpenVPN there is a possibility to choose between Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and User Datagram Protocol (UDP) for data transmission between the client and server. TCP prioritizes accuracy over speed, numbering data packets and confirming their correct arrival order. Though this approach may slow down the process, it prevents errors, making it suitable for most use cases where accuracy is paramount. On the other hand, UDP prioritizes speed over accuracy. It doesn't number data packets or check for errors, making it more suitable for use cases where latency is more critical than potential inaccuracies. For instance, video streaming benefits from the speed-oriented approach of UDP, while device interactions benefit from the reliability of TCP. 

OpenVPN vs. Private APN 

OpenVPN and Private APN (Access Point Name) are used for secure communication in different contexts: 

Feature 

OpenVPN 

Private APN 

Technology 

Open-source VPN protocol 

Cellular network feature 

Use Case 

Secure internet connections 

Secure IoT and M2M communications 

Connectivity 

Utilizes the internet as the transport medium 

Operates within a cellular network infrastructure 

Encryption 

Provides strong encryption for data 

Offers encryption for data over cellular network 

Network Isolation 

Connects remote devices to a private network 

Creates a private network within the operator's infrastructure 

Flexibility 

Can work with various internet connections 

Primarily used in cellular-based applications 

Configuration 

Highly configurable and customizable 

Requires configuration with the cellular operator 

Setup Complexity 

Can require more setup and configuration 

Usually simpler to set up and manage 

Use Scenarios 

Remote access, VPN services, secure browsing 

IoT and M2M applications, secure device communication 

Network Scope 

Operates over public and private networks 

Limited to the operator's cellular network