What Is SSL VPN? The Beginners Guide to a Secure Network

Most of our work is done online, whether you’re working from home or for a corporation. The internet is the new operating platform. By keeping your online activity private, you are taking important steps in protecting your identity and online footprint.

When it comes to keeping your online activity private, a VPN is the most important tool you can use. A VPN doesn’t just protect you at home – it keeps your connection secure while using public wifi networks as well.

There are different types of private networks, but we’re more interested in SSL VPN. The Secure Socket Layer VPN is an effective way to establish a secure connection. 

So, what is SSL VPN? Let’s see what it’s all about.

What Is SSL VPN?


Before we dive into ‌SSL VPN, let’s first talk about VPN. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, which refers to a platform that allows you to connect to the internet via a secure connection. The VPN serves as a secure bridge between your network and the internet.

SSL VPN stands for Secure Socket Layer VPN. It provides the user with an encrypted connection to client-server applications, internal network utilities, and institution networks without any added software.

SSL VPN uses a Secure Socket Layer or Transport Layer Protocol to encrypt data transmission across the network. This form of encryption is very convenient and eliminates the need to install any hardware or software.

How Does SSL VPN Work?

The operation of the SSL VPN is based mainly on the SSL certificate of the desired website. The public website has a digital ID card or certification that indicates it is authentic. 

The SSL protocol identifies the digital ID and receives permission to encrypt the data flow from your browser to the public website.

There are different types of SSL VPNs. Some are web-based and don’t require any third-party client. These forms can be accessed through the web and with a secure login. 

On the other hand, some SSL VPNs need a client application to operate. The main difference between these VPNs is the amount of accessibility. VPNs that require a client application have a wider range of options and are more secure. 

Some SSL VPNs require you to download an application before access is granted. In this case, you must install and log into the application software before establishing an encrypted tunnel. Using an application-based VPN gives you more options and remote access to multiple networks.

If you’re considering non-client-oriented VPNs, they provide security, but are limited in options.

Types of Secure Socket Layer VPN

Secure Socket Layer VPN

Now that we’ve discussed what SSL VPNs are and how they work, let’s look at the different types of SSL VPNs.

SSL Portal VPN

As the name suggests, this SSL VPN allows access through a portal. The portal is a gateway provided by the VPN services and is accessible with login credentials. This VPN is accessed through the website and requires a username and password.

The organization determines the number of services and applications available to the user. Furthermore, the portal VPN only allows one connection to a website per login. You will be given a username and password to access the SSL portal VPN.

SSL Tunnel VPN

While the SSL portal VPN is accessible through the internet, the Tunnel VPN is not directly available. Large organizations often use this VPN to provide a more secure connection. The SSL tunnel VPN gives access to several network services certified by SSL, while the portal VPN gives access to one.

Due to the additional functions and complexity, ‌SSL tunnel VPN often requires other applications to function, such as JavaScript. Using the SSL tunnel VPN is more complex, and it will need a bit of explanation.

To summarize the two types of SSL VPN: the portal VPN is less complex and gives you access to a single secure connection to one website. You can also access the VPN through your browser with a secure login.

On the other hand, the SSL tunnel VPN gives individual users access to multiple network services. It requires a browser and possibly other applications for its effectiveness. The SSL tunnel VPN is more cumbersome to use, and it requires some orientation.

Comparing SSL VPN vs. IPsec VPN

IPsec VPN is an earlier form of VPN technology that used Internet Protocol Security in its operation. IPsec is a complex private network that uses hardware and software components in its operation.

IPsec uses the network layer of the Open System Interconnection model to imitate the properties of the computer terminals connected to the local area network (LAN). IPsec needs both hardware and software to operate, which makes it a complex but secure form of protection. The operation is often monitored physically by network engineers.

IPsec VPN is one of the safest VPN options because it provides hardware and software protection; two-step verification. This makes it harder for hackers and other cybercriminals to access the network.

While it is very secure to use the IPsec VPN, it also has downsides. You need special software and hardware to enjoy this type of VPN, which can be very expensive, complex to install, and difficult to maintain. 

The cost of running this VPN is high, and it also requires user orientation.

On the other hand, SSL VPN is more convenient to use. It doesn’t require hardware installations or downloading software applications. SSL VPNs are readily accessible through the internet, and most browsers already have ‌SSL certification. The SSL certification is a digital ID showing that the browser supports the VPN.

The browsers supported by SSL already contain the “client software” required for the VPN to work. This software is absent in IPsec VPN and needs to be downloaded separately. 

You likely have the client software installed if you’re using a recent smartphone or device with one of the standard web browsers.

Furthermore, SSL VPNs allow organizations to allocate limited access to corporate networks. Some organizations may want to limit access to specific applications, and SSL VPN makes it possible. You can tunnel access and restrict the number of individuals privy to that application.

SSL VPNs operate via a browser, which is a potential security risk. There are several security threats on every browser. They could be in ads, click baits, pop-ups, and more. These threats are usually malware and viruses that corrupt, steal, or share your personal information.

SSL VPN users must be careful of these threats when browsing and should also have trusted antiviruses and malware.


Keeping yourself protected when surfing the web is extremely important. You wouldn’t just hand over your personal information to a criminal over the phone, so why leave yourself exposed while online? A VPN is the most important tool to keep you protected.

So, what is an SSL VPN? SSL VPNs are browser-based software that provides a secure network. This VPN can be for a single network or tunneled to limit access to multiple networks. There is a lot to learn about VPNs, so make sure to research what options work best for you.

Dale Williams

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