What Is A Business VPN?

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published
June 11, 2024
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A business VPN is a virtual private network specifically designed for businesses. It creates an encrypted channel that remote employees and branch offices can use to securely connect to an internal network and access the data and resources they need to perform their duties. 

Traditionally, businesses have used perimeter security models to secure their corporate networks, but these networks were restricted to physical structures and locations. They cannot guarantee secure connections for employees working remotely. This is the reason for the growing appeal of business VPNs. 

An example that highlights the importance and practicality of a business VPN is that of a sales team that works on the road and requires access to sensitive client information to close deals. A business VPN ensures that all data transmitted between your sales team and your company's servers is encrypted. No one can intercept and misuse the information. 

Business VPNs vs Personal VPNs

Many people are familiar with personal or commercial VPNs. Those VPNs are designed for personal or home use. While there are some similarities in how those and business VPNs work, there are important differences between them.

Generally speaking, personal VPNs are used to protect privacy, hide geographical locations, and access restricted content. Business VPNs have different use cases, mainly used to manage network access for remote employees and protect the data they transmit over the open internet.

Business VPNs are also great for protecting your sensitive data, stopping malicious attacks, and removing geographical restrictions when your employees travel abroad for work.

How VPN encryption works for business

VPNs have several encryption and security mechanisms that work together to create a fortress around your business data. However, encryption is at the heart of how a VPN works. Encryption works by scrambling your data, making it unreadable to prying eyes. Think of it as sending a secret message that only the intended recipient can decode.

For businesses, using strong encryption protocols is a must. One of the most common protocols is AES-256 (Advanced Encryption Standard with 256-bit keys). This level of encryption is incredibly robust.

But encryption is just one part of the equation. VPNs also utilize various security mechanisms to ensure that your connection remains safe. For instance, the handshake process when you first connect to a VPN is crucial. 

The handshake process is where your device and the VPN server agree on encryption keys and methods. Protocols like IKEv2/IPSec (Internet Key Exchange version 2/Internet Protocol Security) are often used. They provide a secure and stable connection, even if you switch networks, say from Wi-Fi to mobile data.

Another critical aspect is the kill switch feature. This is like having an emergency brake for your internet connection. If the VPN connection drops for any reason, the kill switch automatically blocks all internet traffic, ensuring no data leaks out. It's like a safety net, ensuring that your sensitive information is never exposed.

Another critical VPN feature is split tunneling, which allows you to route some of your traffic through the VPN while letting the rest access the internet directly. For example, you might want your email and financial data to go through the VPN for added security while streaming services can use your regular internet connection to save bandwidth.

Benefits of a business VPN

Enhanced security

Personal VPNs are great for personal privacy and security, but they often fall short when it comes to meeting the security standards of modern businesses. 

For starters, they offer generic security features that aren’t tailored to specific business needs. They do encrypt data in transit, but they lack the advanced configurations required for enterprise-level oversight and regulatory compliance.

Contrast this with a business VPN solution that comes with features that cater specifically to the needs of businesses. One of these is the ability to integrate with your existing identity provider to streamline user authentication. Others are single sign-on (SSO) support and multifactor authentication (MFA) that add extra layers of security to prevent unauthorized access.

Another must-have feature of a business VPN is end-to-end encryption. So are VPN solutions that use the WireGuard protocol, which is a modern and secure VPN technology that ensures that even if someone intercepts your data, it remains unintelligible to them.

Access control lists (ACLs) are another business VPN feature that enhances security. The feature gives you granular control over who can access what within your network. You can define exactly which users have access to specific devices. This helps in mitigating risks associated with unauthorized access and ensures compliance with industry regulations.

Remote access for employees

Aside from providing them with a secure connection for accessing sensitive and the resources and tools they need, a business VPN makes managing remote teams simpler.

Let's say you run a customer support team that operates around the clock. With employees in different time zones, ensuring they have secure access to the customer database is crucial. 

A business VPN ensures that no matter where your support agents log in from, they are always connected through a secure, reliable channel. This not only protects customer data but also boosts trust in your support team’s interactions.

Many industries have strict regulations on data protection. Using a business VPN helps you tick those compliance boxes. For example, if you're in finance or healthcare, accessing sensitive information remotely can be a legal minefield. But with a VPN, all data transmissions are encrypted, helping you meet industry standards and avoid potential fines.

A business VPN also makes it easy to push updates to remote employees and branch offices. IT can seamlessly update systems irrespective of employees' locations. Whether they’re attending a conference in another city or working from a co-working space, updates can be pushed through securely without needing the employee to take any extra steps.

Improved privacy

Using a business VPN can significantly enhance your company's privacy and protect against corporate espionage. When employees are connected to a business VPN, their online activities are encrypted. This means that even if someone tries to intercept their data, they can't read it.

Even when working remotely from a coffee shop using public Wi-Fi, other people can't eavesdrop and see what websites they are visiting. The employee’s browsing activity remains hidden. This not only protects sensitive company information but also the employee’s privacy.

Furthermore, a business VPN masks your IP address. This is crucial because your IP address can reveal your location and track your online movements. With the VPN, your IP address appears as if it's coming from a different location, usually where your company server is based. So, even if someone wanted to track your activities, they would hit a dead end.

Another example is when you are accessing your company's internal tools and resources. Without a VPN, these connections might be vulnerable. But by using a business VPN, you sure that all the data you send and receive is secure. 

Cost savings on infrastructure

Using a business VPN can help save on infrastructure costs. You won’t have to invest in expensive physical servers or spend a fortune on dedicated private lines. With a VPN, your data travels securely over the internet, so you don’t need to worry about setting up and maintaining costly hardware.

Rather than installing servers in every office location, your business can use cloud-based servers. These are often cheaper and more scalable. Maintenance and upgrades are handled by your VPN provider, saving your IT team time and resources.

Consider your remote workers, too. If your employees need to access company resources from home or while traveling, a VPN eliminates the need for pricey VPN hardware or additional security measures. Your team can securely connect to your network from anywhere, using their existing devices. This reduces costs associated with remote work setups and provides flexibility.

Also, consider the savings in network management. By using a VPN, you can streamline your network traffic and reduce the need for complex setups. For instance, with a centralized VPN solution, the IT department can manage and monitor the network from a single location. This avoids the expenses tied to managing multiple, disparate networks.

These savings might seem small individually, but they add up. The reduced need for physical infrastructure, cheaper cloud solutions, simplified network management, and enhanced remote work capabilities all contribute to lower overall costs. 

Types of business VPNs

Remote Access business VPN

A Remote Access VPN is like having a secure, direct line to your office. It keeps data safe and makes working remotely just as efficient as being in the office. It gives team members working remotely a secure tunnel to the company's network, so they can connect to our internal servers without exposing their data or physical location.

It's not just about security. There's also the convenience factor. Finance teams, for example, often deal with sensitive information like payroll and budgets. By using a Remote Access VPN, they can securely access financial software and files from anywhere, ensuring data integrity and confidentiality. 

When team members are traveling, they can securely access their email, retrieve important documents stored on the company’s intranet, and even join meetings over your secure VoIP systems. It’s peace of mind knowing that all this data is tunneled through an encrypted connection, away from prying eyes. 

Site-to-site business VPN

Site-to-site VPNs allow you to securely link multiple offices, ensuring that data travels safely from one site to another. If you have multiple offices spread out across different locations, you will want them all connected securely without relying solely on the open internet. That’s where a Site-to-Site VPN comes in handy.

The way a site-to-site VPN works is instead of each office connecting directly to the internet, you set up VPN gatewayss at both locations. These gateways act like secure tunnels. When someone in one site sends data to another site, it first gets encrypted, then travels through this secure tunnel and is decrypted once it arrives.

One huge advantage of a Site-to-Site VPN is the security it provides. Since the data is encrypted, even if someone tries to intercept it, they’d just see gibberish. It’s also cost-effective in the long run. Instead of paying for multiple secure connections, you’re leveraging your existing internet connections more securely.

Client-to-Site business VPN

With a client-to-site VPN, your device acts as the "client". It connects to the company's network, the "site". This connection is encrypted. So, all the data you send and receive is secure. It's like having a private tunnel to the office network. 

With the client-to-site VPN, you can remotely access sensitive files stored on our company's server without worrying about security breaches. You just open your VPN client app, log in, and just like that, you are virtually in the office.

Setting up a client-to-site VPN is usually straightforward. You download the VPN client software, install it, and then log in using your credentials.

In terms of security, client-to-site VPNs use strong encryption protocols like AES-256. This means your internet traffic is almost impossible to decrypt by unauthorized parties. And even though it's super secure, a client-to-site VPN also offers flexibility. You can connect from almost any device.

Intranet and Extranet business VPN

Many companies use VPNs for both intranet and extranet purposes. An Intranet VPN connects your internal teams. All your departments can securely access shared resources. Think about it as a secure tunnel just for employees.

Then there's the extranet VPN, which is a bit different. It allows you to share resources with your business partners while keeping everything secure. Using the extranet VPN, external vendors, and partners can access specific files and systems without compromising your internal network. It's like giving them a key to a specific room in your office block, rather than the main entrance. 

By using both intranet and extranet VPNs, you can ensure that all internal communications and authorized external interactions remain encrypted and secure. Your sensitive company data stays safe, no matter who needs access or where they are.

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