MobiVPN: Towards a Reliable and Efficient Mobile Virtual Private Network

Publication Work Type: 
Publishing City: 
Tempe, AZ, USA
Thesis Type: 
PhD Dissertation
Arizona State University
Publication Abstract: 

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is the traditional approach for an end-to-end secure connection between two endpoints. Most existing VPN solutions are intended for wired networks with reliable connections. In a mobile environment, network connections are less reliable and devices experience intermittent network disconnections due to either switching from one network to another or experiencing a gap in coverage during roaming. These disruptive events affects traditional VPN performance, resulting in possible termination of applications, data loss, and reduced productivity. Mobile VPNs bridge the gap between what users and applications expect from a wired network and the realities of mobile computing. 

In this dissertation, MobiVPN, which was built by modifying the widely-used OpenVPN so that the requirements of a mobile VPN were met, was designed and developed. The aim in MobiVPN was for it to be a reliable and efficient VPN for mobile environments. In order to achieve these objectives, MobiVPN introduces the following features:
   1) Fast and lightweight VPN session resumption, where MobiVPN is able decrease the time it takes to resume a VPN tunnel after a mobility event by an average of 97.19% compared to that of OpenVPN.
   2) Persistence of TCP sessions of the tunneled applications allowing them to survive VPN tunnel disruptions due to a gap in network coverage no matter how long the coverage gap is. MobiVPN also has mechanisms to suspend and resume TCP flows during and after a network disconnection with a packet buffering option to maintain the TCP sending rate. MobiVPN was able to provide fast resumption of TCP flows after reconnection with improved TCP performance when multiple disconnections occur with an average of 30.08% increase in throughput in the experiments where buffering was used, and an average of 20.93% of increased throughput for flows that were not buffered.
   3) A fine-grained, flow-based adaptive compression which allows MobiVPN to treat each tunneled flow independently so that compression can be turned on for compressible flows, and turned off for incompressible ones. The experiments showed that the flow-based adaptive compression outperformed OpenVPN's compression options in terms of effective throughput, data reduction, and lesser compression operations.