A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a type of network that provides secure connections between two (2) separate networks and/or computers. Every computer connected to a VPN can access resources located on other connected computers and devices, such as servers. This form of network connection provides confidentiality, authentication and connectivity for users and devices within the organization network, enhancing the overall security of the network.
Within an organization, a VPN is typically used to allow employees, contractors, and others within the organization to access resources and devices securely, regardless of whether they are located on the same physical network or not. This is in contrast to a traditional network system, where only those within the same physical network can access each other’s resources. The utilization of VPNs is growing rapidly, as organizations become more mobile, remote, and complex, requiring enhanced security and connection capabilities.
Why Should You Get A VPN For Your Business?
Since the launch of the very first iPhone in June of 2007, organizations and individuals have been seeking ways to secure and encrypt their data while on the go. This has especially been the case since the global financial crisis of 2008 and 2009, when individuals and companies were looking for ways to protect their data and maintain secure connections even while traveling or working remotely. Since then, many organizations and startups have taken advantage of new technologies, such as VPNs, to protect and secure the data that flows through their networks. Here are just a few reasons why you might want to get a VPN for your business.
Even prior to the rise of virtual offices and remote work, employees in an organization typically worked in close proximity to one another and were physically located in the same building. As a result, many organizations devised ways to protect their systems and data from outside threats. One of the earliest examples of data security and encryption was the introduction of the Data Encryption Standard (DES) in mid-1970s, which was subsequently adopted by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in 1981. DES is a symmetric key algorithm that can be used to encrypt and decrypt data. It is considered one of the simplest and most basic examples of a cipher.
While DES provided an early form of data security and encryption, it was superseded by advances in computing technology and, more importantly, the subsequent development of the RSA cryptographic algorithm in 1978. The RSA algorithm allows two (2) parties to share a secret key, enabling them to encrypt and decrypt data. Since then, other symmetric key algorithms, such as the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) have been adopted by the United States government and a number of other nations around the world, providing organizations with yet another option for data security and encryption.
Another significant advantage of using a VPN is the ability to quickly and easily connect to a remote server to access resources and devices that are located elsewhere. This can be extremely useful, as organizations become more agile and embrace the idea of “self-service”, where employees and others within the organization can access information and resources without needing to rely on anyone else for assistance. This increased flexibility makes it much easier for everyone to get their jobs done, regardless of their physical location, improving the overall quality of service and reducing administration overhead.
The primary function of a VPN is to allow for confidential and private communications between networks and devices, without the fear of someone eavesdropping or accessing your data. This provides a great deal of privacy and security for users, as their data is more or less confined to the networks they have chosen to connect to, rather than any one company or organization. This has caused many VPNs to incorporate features that provide end-to-end encryption, meaning the data you transmit is completely secure, and no one, not even the service provider, can decrypt it.
Increased Resistance To Network Interference
One of the primary ways that security providers penetrate and monitor the networks of their clients is through the use of network sniffers. These are pieces of software, hardware, or a combination of the two that are used to monitor network traffic and identify possible signs of compromise. Since many network sniffers have the ability to decrypt SSL, SSH, and other types of traffic, they pose a significant threat to the security of your organization. A VPN provides resistance to these types of network intrusions, as all data transferred between the connected devices is encrypted, rendering it unreadable to anyone except the two (2) parties exchanging the data.
If you’re concerned about exposing your organization to network sniffers and other threats, a VPN can greatly enhance your security by eliminating the possibility of surveillance. The two (2) layer encryption process implemented by most VPNs provides an additional layer of security, as it is extremely difficult for unauthorized entities to decrypt the data, even if they possess the original encryption keys.
Given the numerous advantages of a VPN, it’s not difficult to understand why organizations, large and small, seek to implement these technologies within their networks. But, since not all VPNs are created equal, it’s important to learn the basics first, before you begin your quest to secure your organization.
VPN vs. Firewall vs. DMZ
There are three (3) major technologies that, when combined, form what is often referred to as a “VPN”. These technologies provide a means of securing data and maintaining remote connections:
- The Firewall (Network Security)
- The DMZ (Demilitarized Zone)
- The VPN (Virtual Private Network)
A firewall is a combination of hardware, software, and training that allows for the prevention of unauthorized access to resources on a private network. The firewall is typically placed in between two (2) physical networks, or groups of networks, to protect the organization’s internal network from threats located outside of it. It is a critical component of any network security scheme, as it provides the first line of defense against attacks and intrusions.
The firewall’s primary purpose is to protect the organization’s most important data and resources from outside threats and malicious parties. It does this by allowing only certain types of network traffic to enter the internal network, while blocking others. This is typically done using a hardware firewall, which is built into a dedicated device and has the ability to be programmed via software, such as a firewall rule. The advantage of a dedicated firewall is that it can be operated remotely, via a VPN or other types of secure connections, from a central location. This makes it much easier to manage and configure, compared to a virtual firewall, which is implemented on an everyday desktop or laptop computer.
The disadvantage of a dedicated firewall is that it cannot be accessed directly from remote locations, as it requires a physical connection to the network. This makes it more difficult to implement and use, especially if you are using an everyday computer for the task, rather than a dedicated and professional device. Another disadvantage of a dedicated firewall is that it cannot block all network traffic, as it needs to allow some data to pass through, in order to function properly. Blocking all network traffic would render the firewall completely useless.
A DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) is a type of network that is placed in between two (2) or more physical networks, or groups of networks, to provide a safe zone for employees and others who access the network. A DMZ network is similar to a private network, in that it provides secure connections between two (2) or more separate networks as well as the ability to encrypt data transferred between the connected devices. However, since a DMZ network is not considered part of the internal network, it does not need to be protected by a firewall. This gives DMZ networks additional advantages, as they do not require any hardware or software to be installed on user devices, for secure connections to be established. Simply being on the same physical network requires neither authentication nor encryption.
A VPN is a type of network that provides secure connections between two (2) or more separate networks. It does this by providing a safe zone for employees and others who are accessing the network. This is typically done by incorporating features, such as end-to-end encryption, that prevents eavesdropping and manipulation of data transferred between the connected devices. In addition, since a VPN network is considered part of the internal network, it requires authorization and encryption for users to access the data. Finally, a VPN can be used to route all network traffic through an encrypted channel, which makes it less likely that a third party will intercept the data while in transit.