While most of the world is focused on the pandemic, cybersecurity has never been more crucial. Countless data breaches in 2020 have put millions of credit card numbers, personal emails, and other sensitive information at risk. The cost of data breaches to businesses and consumers continues to rise, with recent statistics indicating that businesses have to spend an average of $16 million per year on cybersecurity – more than double the average cost of a data breach in 2019.
One of the best ways for businesses to stay ahead of the security curve is to maintain a steady stream of income through online marketplaces and e-commerce. Enterprises and digital businesses looking to navigate the complexity of securing their internet presence can do so through private networks, known as VPNs (Virtual Private Networks).
A VPN connects your computer or mobile device to a secure private network, allowing you to surf the web privately and securely. The service safeguards all data that travels between your device and the VPN server — even if that data travels over public networks such as the internet or a Wi-Fi connection at a coffee shop. This ensures that nobody — not your security guard, not your internet service provider, and not even hackers disguised as website engineers — can snoop on your private communications or see your sensitive information such as credit card numbers.
Though there are numerous benefits to using a VPN, it can be tricky to set one up. This post will guide you through the process of enabling a VPN client in Azure.
What Is Azure Active Directory?
Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) is the digital identity and access management solution from Microsoft. It brings together all of the security and identity features that Microsoft has rolled into one platform for businesses and enterprises.
Azure AD supports single sign-on for all of your online accounts — including Windows, Office, and Gmail — while providing the security of multifactor authentication.
Microsoft has built Azure AD on top of their Windows Server infrastructure, meaning that it is highly scalable and offers extreme reliability. When you compare it to other cloud-based solutions, you will discover that it is much more cost-effective and offers a richer feature set.
Sign Up For An Azure AD Free Trial
To get started, you will need to sign up for an Azure AD free trial. The free trial gives you access to all of Azure AD’s features for 14 days, ensuring that you can explore the platform without any limits. After you have tried out the service for free, you can upgrade to a paid plan that offers all of the same features plus adds domain privacy and group policy management to the bundle.
Create A Virtual Network For Your Azure AD Accounts
After you have created a free trial account, you will need to create a virtual network for your Azure AD accounts. A virtual network is a private network that allows you to create a connection between your own devices without needing to set up physical servers in your data center.
The advantage of a virtual network is that you can create as many networks as you need, and you can control how private the network is by adjusting the permissions. You can also use a commercial VPN service to create a secure connection to the internet through a VPN server that is entirely hosted in the Azure cloud.
Creating a virtual network is fairly straightforward. Click the + button in the Azure portal, select VPN + (Virtual Private Network) from the quick actions, and enter a name for the VPN in the Save section. Then, select the Public protocol (also known as Client VPN) from the Type of VPN drop-down menu, and click Create.
Configure Your Azure AD Account For VPN Use
Once you have created a virtual network for your Azure AD accounts, you will need to configure your accounts to work with the private network. To do this, you will need to open up the VPN panel in the Azure portal, select the VPN (Virtual Private Network) you just created, and click Connect.
Next, you will need to enter the Network policy of your choice. A network policy is a set of rules that will govern how your company will behave while connected to the VPN. You can use a Network policy to enable Password protected access (also known as PW encryption) or to set a Minimum password length to 8 characters for user authentication.
You can use the Network policy section of the VPN panel in the Azure portal to create, connect, and delete policies for your company’s VPN. Just remember that network policies are device and connection agnostic, so you will need to make sure that all of your devices (PCs, laptops, and mobile phones) are configured correctly to use the VPN.
Set Up Your VPN Client
After you have connected your Azure AD accounts to a VPN, you will need to set up your VPN client. A VPN client is the software that you run on your computer or mobile device to connect to a VPN.
There are numerous reasons why you might want to use a VPN. For example, if you are looking to create a remote office or a secure connection between two offices, you might want to consider using a VPN to connect to an Azure AD-connected private network. Just remember that your VPN client needs to support VPN protocols such as OpenVPN, L2TP, PPTP, and SSTP.
Enable Download VPN Client
Now that you have a VPN client set up and working, you can enable the download option. A download option allows you to download files from remote servers and store them locally on your device. In some cases, the server you are connected to may not have the file you are looking for, but rather than wait for it to download, you can download it directly to your device.
Enabling the download VPN client is easy. Select the My VPN option in the Azure portal, and then click Download from the menu that appears. The VPN client will then ask you for permission to Allow downloads for this application.]
Secure Surfing With A VPN
At this point, you have a VPN client configured, and you can begin to use the service to secure your internet traffic. To do this, you will need to connect to a VPN server that is geographically closest to you. You can do this through the Network tab in the Azure portal, selecting VPN + (Virtual Private Network) from the Available Networks list, and then clicking Connect.
As soon as you connect to the VPN server, you will see a green bar across the top of your screen, indicating that you are now connected to a secure private network. All of the traffic that you send through the VPN will be encrypted, ensuring that nobody — including your security guard, your internet service provider, and hackers — can see what websites and services you are accessing.
Though there are numerous benefits to using a VPN, you should not feel that you have to choose this option to protect your data. Cybersecurity has become a top priority in light of the pandemic, and VPNs offer a cost-effective and easy way to ensure your data is always protected.