A virtual private network is a service that creates an encrypted connection between your device and a server. With a VPN, you can connect securely to an organization’s internal network or the public Internet. In business, a VPN is typically used as part of providing company employees with remote access to office data or applications. A virtual private network is also used to share data and applications with employees in different branches, to create a single information space between several offices.
Regardless of the reason for using a VPN, the ultimate goal is to protect web traffic from unauthorized access. To understand why a VPN is needed, we can look at a simple example. Employees who work remotely connect to the company’s internal network via the public Internet. As a result, the risk of losing confidential information is greatly increased. Traffic is exposed to hacker attacks and other ways to track data. Encrypting transmitted information is an effective way to protect it from prying eyes.
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Types of VPNs
The main types are remote access and network-to-network. In the first case, a connection is created between the remote network and individual users. More often we are talking about the internal network of the company. When creating a remote access VPN, you should focus on two components – the server that provides access to the network, and the VPN client (the software that is installed on the user’s device). If the user needs to connect to the corporate network, they activate the VPN client. This creates an encrypted communication tunnel.
A network-to-network virtual private network is a single space to which users from different offices can connect at the same time. In this scheme, the VPN client is located on each office’s local network, rather than on the individual user’s device. Employees at each office can access the corporate network. However, when they leave the office, the corporate network becomes unavailable.
The difference between a personal VPN and a corporate VPN
The principle of a virtual private network is the same in both cases. The only difference is the purpose of use. The corporate scheme allows employees to connect to the company’s internal network. End-to-end encryption is performed even when using a public Wi-Fi network. Using a personal VPN involves masking the user’s IP address and gaining personal anonymity status. Conventional VPNs lack many of the features that a virtual private network designed for businesses has.
A personal VPN is for private use, a business VPN is for the needs of the enterprise. Therefore, in the latter case, the advanced feature set may include tools to organize individual user access to multiple databases and files. These are static IP addresses, utilities for traffic monitoring, and network segmentation.
The principle of operation
A virtual private network works based on modern cryptographic protocols – it encrypts the traffic between remote employees and the corporate network of the company. This is a cheaper option compared to buying a dedicated communication line from an ISP. Compared to manually adding individual employee IP addresses to a list, using a VPN is much easier. One disadvantage is the difficulty of management if the company has more than one VPN with different access modes for different employees. In this case, an IT professional should manage the system.
The business manager can restrict or block access to information resources for individual employees. These options are useful, for example, if an employee is fired, their device is stolen, or if temporary access needs to be created. Multi-level and selective access control can be organized. Other benefits:
- End-to-end encryption for data transfer.
- Effective protection of confidential information from hackers and competitors.
- Securely sending data over the network.
- Allows employees to securely connect to the corporate network from anywhere in the world.
- Reduces the risk of data loss.
Due to the increasing frequency of cyberattacks, businesses are forced to protect and secure sensitive data. Unprotected Internet connections can lead to leaks of important information, such as bank statements or patient medical records. In this case, a business may be fined for not properly protecting sensitive information. Available VPN features:
- Monitoring and auditing. Ability to record and audit employee actions taken on the network.
- Centralized management of the credentials of all users.
- Authentication and authorization of different levels of access for different employees according to the corporate hierarchy.
When choosing a provider, it is important to clarify such points as the type of encryption (256-bit encryption is preferable) and the presence of two-factor or multi-factor authentication. To connect a VPN, you need to install special software.
Reasons to use a VPN
If an enterprise uses an unsecured connection to establish communication channels with remote employees and customers, the risk of hackers capturing sensitive data increases significantly. Using a VPN can enhance security. A secure connection is established regardless of the user’s location. The employee can connect to the corporate network while on a business trip or travel. Security remains at a high level regardless of the type of device used – cell phones, tablets, laptops, desktop computers. Other reasons to use a VPN:
- Increased security.
- Centralized management, including scaling to the number of end users and control over timely software updates.
- Track the online activity of users who connect to the corporate network.
Data is secure, even when using a public Wi-Fi network. Even if hackers manage to intercept transmitted data, thanks to encryption they will not be able to read it.
Installing a VPN is crucial to the strategies of companies that want to establish a secure connection to resources such as local file storage or cloud-based SaaS applications. A virtual private network can be called an Internet security service.
The ultimate goal of using a VPN is to prevent the disclosure and loss of sensitive company data when transmitted over the Internet. Remote access connections are most at risk when employees connect to company resources over the public Internet.
Virtual private network is widely used by private and public enterprises, and government organizations to protect data from interception. Individuals use VPNs to maintain location privacy and maintain anonymity while on the Internet.