With the increasing number of data breaches, employee negligence, and information leakage, more and more businesses are turning to security protocols such as the VPN (virtual private network) and DMZ (demilitarized zone). A VPN allows for safer and more private access to company-owned devices, while a DMZ gives third parties the ability to remotely connect to servers and sensitive data through firewalls and gateways without breaching privacy.
If you’re looking to deploy a VPN or DMZ for your organization, then this tutorial will help guide you through the process of setting one up on your networks.
What is a VPN and Why Should I Consider It?
A VPN is a type of virtual private network that creates a safe zone for employees and customers to securely connect to your organization’s back end systems. A VPN allows you to extend your security perimeter and prevent external threats from accessing sensitive data and bringing down your network or server.
VPNs are typically used in enterprise environments where businesses need to maintain control over their network and data, regardless of where their users may be located. Due to their inherent security guarantees, VPNs are frequently deployed in conjunction with firewall technologies.
As the cybersecurity industry continues to evolve and new threats emerge, VPNs provide businesses with the ability to keep their data and systems secure. A VPN allows users to feel safe and comfortable sharing their information with companies and businesses they trust, while also protecting the privacy of that data.
The Anatomy of a VPN
A VPN is a combination of hardware, software, and services. The hardware is typically comprised of a VPN server, which is a device that secures and isolates internal networks from hackers, viruses, and the elements of nature such as water damage. The software is usually a VPN client, which is a device that users (such as employees and customers) connect to via remote access protocols like PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol) or L2TP (Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol) to establish a VPN connection. Finally, the services are the different types of data that flow over the VPN connection, which could be limited to voice, video, or data.
When you connect a VPN client to a VPN server using a PPTP connection, for example, the VPN server will act as a gateway to a remote network, allowing you to securely access resources on that network through the server. Data that flows over the VPN connection is secured with encryption techniques, such as the SHA-256 (Secure Hashing Algorithm) and AES (Advanced Encryption Standards) algorithms.
If you’re curious about the different types of VPNs, then check out the OpenVPN website, which has a detailed guide to all of the different types of VPNs.
Features of a Good VPN
When selecting a VPN, you need to keep in mind that not all VPNs are created equal, so to speak. Here are some of the most important features that you need to look for in a VPN before making a purchase decision.
1. Security. You want to make sure that the VPN you’re considering purchasing has been evaluated and certified by a reputable certification body that tests and rates VPNs based on their security features. If you’re not sure where to look, then turn to your network security expert or to the company that certified the VPN you’re considering purchasing.
2. Performance. You also need to make sure that the VPN you’re considering purchasing has been evaluated and certified regarding its performance features. If you’re not sure where to look, then ask the vendor or the certification body for proof of their claims.
3. Compatibility. You need to make sure that the VPN you’re considering purchasing is compatible with the operating systems and applications that you’ll need to use it with. If you’re not sure where to look, then ask the vendor or the certification body for their technical support phone number.
Selecting a DMZ Server
If you’re looking into creating a DMZ (demilitarized zone) on your network, then you’ll need to decide on what type of server you’ll need. A DMZ is essentially a “half machine” that resides on your network, which allows for additional network functionality. A DMZ gives third parties the ability to remotely access company servers and data through firewalls, while maintaining the privacy of that data on your network. You can use a Raspberry Pi or similar device as a DMZ server to provide additional security.
A DMZ differs from a VPN in that it does not require an outside connection to function. When you create a DMZ, you give your IP (Internet Protocol) address to the Internet, effectively making your network available to the rest of the world. While this may be useful for connecting to databases or web applications that you have directly connected to your server (for example, if you were hosting a website), using a DMZ to securely access a company’s own resources raises serious privacy concerns. Employees and third parties should not be able to access company resources without permission.
Choosing a VPN Client
Once you have a VPN server, you can connect to it using a VPN client. Like a server, a VPN client can act as a gateway to a remote network, allowing you to securely access resources on that network through the server.
VPN clients are available for all major operating systems, so you don’t need to worry about compatibility issues with your server.
If you want a user-friendly experience when connecting to the VPN, then look for VPN clients that use strong authentication methods, such as smart cards and one-time passwords (OTP). A VPN client needs to have a good interface and be easy to use, particularly if you’re configuring it for the first time or if you’re switching between multiple computers.
The Role of Firewall Technology
While VPNs provide businesses with the ability to securely connect to their resources from remote locations, they do not replace the need for proper firewalling and security protocols. If a hacker or virus were to gain access to your VPN credentials (such as your username and password) then they would be able to use your connection and steal information or damage your network.
To protect your network against intruders, you should utilize both VPNs and firewalls. You can use a firewall to block outside connections that are not trusted, while a VPN can be configured to only allow trusted IP addresses and computers to connect.
This feature will be especially useful to businesses that do not have a physical presence at every location or to companies that want to keep certain types of data hidden from public view.