Virtual Private Networks protect a user's internet activity on public WIFI, get past content blocks and circumvent regional restrictions.
But what is a business vpn? These work the same way; they provide a tunnel between an organization's internal resources and the employees accessing them.
We look at what exactly a VPN is, how organizations use them to keep their networks secure and how to go about choosing the right one for your business.
VPNs were first used in the mid-1990s, first by businesses, and then individuals began to use them on their at-home computer devices.
End-to-end encryption is used by the VPN to prevent unwanted access or visibility of the organisation's network. While a traditional VPN only masks your IP address and helps to keep you anonymous, a business VPN allows the organisation admin functionality and they can control who has access to the network.
There are two types of VPN that businesses use, these are remote access VPN and site-to-site VPN. The remote access model is used by the remote workforce and employees traveling to locations other than the main office.
This type of VPN creates a tunnel between the network and the individual user that is private, even when they are connected to public WIFI. The network traffic is encrypted meaning that potential hackers cannot understand it.
A site-to-site VPN model works a little differently, rather than connecting an individual to the corporate network, the site-to-site connects to multiple networks. This could be a branch network and a head office network for example.
Businesses often prefer to use a private internet connection rather than multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) circuits with the help of a site-to-site VPN.
What is business VPN used for?
These are some of the top uses of VPNs for organisations:
Allowing hybrid and remote working
By using a VPN, there is greater flexibility for the workforce. They can securely access the shared company network and keep data and files protected.
Controlling access to the network
For the organisation's IT operations and security teams, they can control access and ensure confidential information is only accessible to those that need to see it. Users need to verify their authorisation before access to the files is granted.
Preventing cyber attacks on the network
Using a VPN is necessary for preventing cyberattacks such as ransomware attacks. For some organisations, this is essential for meeting compliance requirements and helps to protect the company's reputation.
Protect financial transactions
All businesses make financial transactions and having a VPN in place encrypts the connection and ensures that these financial transactions cannot be tracked by unauthorized individuals.
Employees who travel to different regions may find that content is geo-blocked in that location. A VPN can help them to bypass this and access the work-related websites that they need.
Allow employees to work in public spaces
VPNs keep data secure when the employees connect to public WIFI, such as free WIFI att an airport or at a cafe.
There are some limitations to using a business VPN
Can slow things down
For employees, accessing the systems and applications they need through a VPN can slot them down. This is particularly an issue for those with low bandwidth connections and may not be the best solution for when speed is essential for business operations.
Can be side-stepped
There are still ways the employees can get around a VPN if they wanted to, impacting the privacy and security of the data you are trying to protect. For example, the employee could send data to a personal email address and use it on their personal devices.
They might be intending to be malicious, but they are still putting the company at risk of data breaches and cybercrime.
VPNs can lose connectivity from time to time, this isn't the same as being disconnected from the internet and your true network information is no longer hidden. Dropped connections can be very disruptive to business operations and depending on the cause can take time to resolve.In the meantime, employee productivity is affected.
What should a business look for in a VPN before choosing it?
You should research whether the VPN vendor you want to go with has had any security incidents. If so, look at the severity of these security incidents and what remediation activity took place.
Reviewing how they responded to previous security incidents can help to build a picture of the response you will see if a future incident was to occur.