Choose the best VPN for your business needs and work from wherever you are.
In today’s inter-connected world, companies of all sizes rely on VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) to ensure secure, dependable access to business assets for employees in various locations. Whether the VPN is seamlessly connecting multiple offices together or is providing the growing telecommute workforce with a connection to the office tools they need, VPNs act as portals to the company’s vital resources. Essentially, the VPN is an encrypted tunnel between two or more points.
VPNs are much cheaper than providing telecommunication connection options for remote office workers and offers the same access levels for employees, but selecting a VPN still requires a little knowledge of exactly how the “encrypted tunnel” will be used.
Here’s what you need to know to select and implement the right VPN for your needs:
Point-to-Point VPNs for Multi-Locational Offices
A point-to-point VPN is used to connect remote branch offices to a centralized location. In some complex cases, point-to-point VPNs can be configured in a dynamic mesh to provide better redundancy for the network traffic. Generally, point-to-point functions as a secure portal for traffic between networks.
Point-to-point VPNs are typically based on IPsec (Internet Protocol Security), which handles authentication and encryption of network packets as they travel through insecure Internet. There is an IPsec protocol – or standard – that dictates how protocol should be encrypted and what algorithm to use. The protocol is specifically designed for the VPN, so it’s the ideal choice for the VPNs. While there are other tunnel-based protocols in existence, IPsec supports authentication, checking packets and has lots of extra features specific to point-to-point VPN access.
Cryptographic algorithms for the VPN tunnel assure integrity and confidentiality – and obviously, stronger algorithms are more secure and should be used whenever possible. Network traffic filtering and restrictions ensure that the VPN traffic has limited access to the internal network. When you have two networks connected with a VPN, everything is unrestricted, and everyone in Network A can potentially access everything in Network B. That’s why filters need to be implemented to control access and security.
Along the same lines, all traffic traveling through the VPN should be logged and available for security analysis. No traffic should be able to bypass set firewalls and restrictions.
Remote Access VPNs for Telecommuters
Remote Access VPNs are typically used to provide telecommuters with full access to internal corporate applications. This is usually accomplished with VPN client software installed on a user laptop or on home workstations. The work-from-home or traveling employee can easily connect to email, shared drives, CRMs and other company assets and applications.
There are three primary remote VPN solutions for secure remote access to work applications:
- IPsec based Remote Access – IPsec was specifically designed to handle all aspects of network packet integrity and is considered the most secure type of VPN since it acts as an encrypter. It has the same protocol as point-to-point, with an installed software client on your PC that is used to connect to the remote resource.
- SSL VPN – Every company has this option since every browser has an SSL. With SSL VPN, you don’t need to install anything on your PC, and the VPN establishes a connection to the corporate website through the server. These are often referred to as clientless VPNs since they do not require a client application installation. While they are gaining traction in the marketplace, SSL VPNs do have a few limitations that should be considered, such as their lack of support for multimedia streaming.
- PPTP VPN – This is one of the oldest VPN solutions developed my Microsoft, and is available to be configured on any Microsoft Windows server and Windows client computers. However, the aging PPTP is often considered less secure in contrast to the IPsec VPN. While it may be less secure and less flexible than other options, every Windows client has it built in, so it could be a good solution for small companies who need access to servers using a simple configuration.
The decision of which VPN solution to implement depends on the business’ needs and technical requirements. With so many VPN technologies and vendor solutions to choose from, all options should be considered carefully before a final choice is made.
Need help deciding on a VPN solution? Talk the VIMRO experts for custom-tailored advice that’s best for your business!