Everything You Need to Know About VPN Connections
Updated: Oct 27, 2021
Having a virtual private network or VPN has become more commonplace, and even necessary, during the last year. This trend is likely to increase as the landscape of work changes. But it’s not just the remote work environment that makes VPNs a necessary part of business. Using a VPN gives your business an added layer of security.
But before we get into the ways a VPN can help any business, let’s answer the question many people have, even those who have used VPNs for years, and that is “what is a VPN connection, exactly?”
What Is a VPN Connection?
You may have heard the acronym VPN and wondered what it means. VPNs have been traditionally used to securely connect with offsite employees and remote or satellite branches to the office or main network.
The letters stand for a virtual private network, and what it does is establish a secure, encrypted Internet connection that allows people to work and transfer information securely over the Internet. It bores a hole through the cloud to create a secure tunnel between two or more computers and allows them to communicate or access each other as if they were on a local network. This allows information to travel safely and prevents cybercriminals and hackers to access it.
Why Does a Business Need a VPN?
Businesses use email for internal and external communications daily and their employees use the Internet for various activities such as researching business-related information. A security breach or leak of sensitive business data transmitted across the Internet could cost you a great deal of money as well as stain your reputation. VPNs help ensure safer Internet communications and minimize ID theft and data breaches.
Deploying a reliable VPN that allows your offsite employees access to the information they need to do their jobs while also protecting your business is becoming increasingly critical in the changing work environment. The benefits of a reliable VPN service are listed below.
Even if a business doesn’t have remote employees who need to access business information from various offsite locations or don’t need site-to-site tunneling, there are many ways a VPN can bolster security.
Most businesses have resources in the cloud, either data or a cloud-integrated business solution. If this is the case, a VPN can help keep business data and cloud resources secure and protected. The VPN creates a secure connection between the devices employees are using and the resources they need to access over the Internet. In addition, it lets remote employees do their jobs effectively, even when they are traveling or using a free or open WiFi connection.
Improved Access Management
Improved access management is a critical reason businesses need a VPN service. They can be a part of the authentication system used to determine who can access to which network. This ensures that employees or people outside the business verified to access the business’ data. It blocks unauthorized access to the business network to protect it from cybercriminals, hackers, and others who might try to do harm.
In addition, businesses can set access levels for their employees by using a VPN service. This limits access to the business network so that sensitive information is protected. Lack of such protection is an open invitation not only to hackers to get ahold of your business information and other sensitive data, but it also opens the door to employee theft.
Autonomy on the Web
When accessing business information or data from remote locations a VPN allows you to access the data you need even in places that may have access limitations. If a business has remote employees, they may be unable to access vital business information or details in some countries or territories because of international censorship.
A reliable and trusted VPN service can help in these situations. It lets offsite employees access business data in sensitive areas, ensuring that they can do their jobs effectively.
Transfers Data Safely
In order to operate, businesses often need to transfer information, data, and trade secrets safely and securely. When transmitted through a VPN, important business data or information is limited to a specific group of authorized users. This helps keep sensitive information out of the wrong hands.
How to Setup a VPN for Your Business
Large businesses with IT departments generally set up their own VPNs with cloud-based technology offered by vendors or they buy their own servers. However, for smaller businesses, or even large ones without their own IT department, often the best route is to contact a VPN provider. Flagler Technologies provides VPN services, along with other managed IT services providers in Florida and nationwide.
Below are the steps for finding a VPN provider.
Evaluate Business Needs
Assess your business needs to determine what type of VPN you need. Consider the following:
What type of devices (computers, smartphones) and how many will need to install a VPN?
What computer operating system is being used?
Does your business need VPN services for employees in more than one location?
What type of protocol will best serve your business? Read more below to find out different protocols.
Will your business need faster internet connection? A VPN could slow down online activities.
The answers to these questions will help you choose a VPN provider who can handle your business’ needs.
What VPN Protocol Do You Want?
VPN protocols can be confusing for those who are new to VPNs. There are several different options, and the one that is right for your business can affect your choice of vendor. These are the rules that control the data flow between the VPN server and your business devices. They determine characteristics like connection speed and encryption level for your data.
There are many VPN protocols and each comes with plusses and minuses. Not all VPN provides offer all the protocols, so look for a VPN provider that has the protocol that works for your business. To give you an idea of what is available, below are some common protocols to consider:
OpenVPN: This popular open-source protocol offers the flexibility to configure it to fulfill your requirements.
SSTP: Developed by Microsoft, the Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol works the best with Windows. No surprise there. While it is considered equal to OpenVPN, it isn’t open-source, which many consider a negative.
PPTP: One of the original protocols, Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol was developed for use with dial-up. Although widely available, the security it offers is weak.
L2TP/IPSec: A successor to PPTP, Layer Two Tunneling Protocol and the Internet Protocol Security network protocol suite are used together. It has been widely adopted for its reliability and strength, however, it’s not as fast as other protocols.
IKEv2/IPSec: The combination of the Internet Key Exchange v 2 and the IPSec protocol suite offers strong security. The VPN connection is stable when you change back and forth from mobile and WiFi networks. This makes it preferred for smartphones and other mobile devices.
WireGuard: A newer protocol, WireGuard offers strong security and a speedy Internet connection.
Installation of VPN Software
These first two steps were basically prep for choosing a VPN service provider. The next step is to find a provider who offers VPN plans for businesses, like Flagler Technologies.
Once you’ve found your VPN provider, download the software they provide, known as a client, onto your business’ devices. The software sets up encryption that protects your business’ online activities. It gives your business access to the provider's servers.
Testing and Troubleshooting
After you’ve defined and set up the security parameters for your business, test the VPN on a few devices. The VPN software could conflict with the software you’re using, so testing and troubleshooting before a complete rollout are essential to ensure there aren’t any problems.
If issues do crop up there are several things you can check to find the problem. Make sure you are using the newest version of any type of software installed on the computer, and update to the newest version if necessary. Also, trying different VPN protocols may solve the problem. You can always call your VPN provider for help or more suggestions.
Rollout to the Team
Once you have taken care of setup issues, your team can install VPN software on their devices. After rollout, tweak your VPN as needed. Determine a default VPN server that your devices can automatically connect to. In general, the nearest server is the fastest.
Call Flagler Technologies today to implement a VPN solution that meets your needs. Call 561-229-1601.