Virtual private networks (VPNS) allow users to securely connect to another network over the Internet by encrypting connections from their devices. VPNS make Internet connections more secure and provide online privacy and anonymity.
Organizations, governments, and businesses of all sizes use VPNS to secure remote connections to the Internet to prevent data from being intercepted. Individuals also use personal VPNS to protect their location privacy, securely encrypt data, and browse the Web anonymously.
What is a business VPN?
Commercial VPNS are exactly what they sound like: VPN connections used by businesses and other professional organizations to securely connect their remote employees and branches to the applications, data, tools, and resources they need to get their jobs done.
Many organizations use traditional perimeter security models to protect their corporate networks. Commercial VPNS enhance peripheral security practices by providing remote workers and branch office employees with a virtual network through which corporate networks can be accessed from public or private Internet connections anywhere in the world.
With the help of the peripheral security model, a company’s IT team can build business-only security networks within the physical structure and location of the organization to align the computer network security footprint with the company’s real estate footprint. This consistency between physical structures and computer networks has historically enabled network security professionals to simplify the visibility and management of network access.
Employees working in the organization headquarters are directly connected to the corporate network around the company, without the need to connect through the enterprise VPN. However, branch office employees, remote workers, or employees traveling outside the boundaries of a security company need an enterprise VPN for secure network connections wherever they work.
Organizations have historically relied on two types of business VPN connections to keep their employees safe away from headquarters: remote access VPN for remote employees and site-to-site VPN for branch employees.
A remote access VPN is a temporary connection between a user and the headquarters, typically used to access data center applications. This connection can be made using IPsec, but it is also common to use SSL VPN to establish a connection between a user endpoint and a VPN gateway.
A site-to-site VPN is a permanent connection designed to serve as an encrypted link between offices (that is, “sites”). This is usually set to an IPsec network connection between network devices.
Remote Access VPN
Remote access VPNS enable remote users to securely access their organization’s network infrastructure. It also encrypts all traffic sent and received by remote employees from the network infrastructure, enabling remote employees in an organization to securely access and use applications, data, tools, and resources located in the company’s data centers and headquarters.
Remote access VPNS provide secure access by creating tunnels between an organization’s network and “virtual private” remote users, even if the users are connected to the network through a public Internet connection. Although there is a public connection, the network connection is private because network traffic is encrypted and unintelligible to any eavesdropper. Remote access encryption features minimize organization concerns about data tampering or interception when data is transferred outside the corporate network between secure boundaries and remote workers.
However, remote access to VPNS does have its limitations. With the rapid growth of remote labor and cloud-based applications, organizations are finding that remote access to VPNS is neither optimized for the cloud nor secure.
Remote access VPNS are typically deployed in a hub-and-spoke architecture, with users sitting on spokes of varying lengths, depending on how far they are from the center (internal data center). Distance degrades performance and introduces latency issues, but it is still the best architecture for data center applications because the goal is to get to the center. To compensate for network problems with remote access to VPNS, organizations often make compromises that have negative security implications.
Organizations with remote employees need appropriate network security architectures and solutions to optimize access to data centers, the Internet, and applications in public, private, and hybrid clouds.
Unlike remote access VPNS, which connect a single device or user to an organization’s corporate network, site-to-site VPNS are connections between two or more networks, such as a corporate network and a branch office network. Many organizations choose a site-to-site VPN so that they can use Their Internet connections for private traffic rather than private multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) circuits.
Site-to-site VPNS are often used by companies that have multiple offices in different geographical locations and need ongoing access to and use of corporate networks. With a site-to-site VPN, companies can securely connect their corporate networks to remote offices, communicating and sharing resources with them as a single network.
A site-to-site VPN is a service VPN that connects the branch office network to the main office network.
Commercial AND personal VPNS
The main difference between a personal and enterprise VPN is whether users connect their devices to a corporate network or a personal network. If users want to access employer-related applications, resources, or data, they need to connect to a VPN maintained by their employer, usually through a laptop, phone, or other hosted device provided by their employer. They can also connect to corporate networks from their personal laptops or devices, as long as VPN proxies are deployed on those devices to facilitate the connection.
Individuals use personal VPNS for private network connections, enabling them to access applications, resources, and data based on their interests or needs. In many cases, individuals use a personal VPN to protect the privacy of their Internet browsing when connected online with an Internet service provider (ISP) or public Wi-Fi. In some areas, individuals use personal VPNS to access websites or content that may be blocked on the public Internet in their country or region. Personal VPNS are generally less widely used than enterprise VPNS, with about a quarter of Internet users using them to access online content.
Commercial VPN Restrictions
Despite their popularity, both types of business VPN connections (remote access VPN and site-to-site VPN) have security flaws, mainly due to the limitations of the peripheral security model in providing overall protection.
The increase in the remote workforce population combined with the increased adoption of cloud-based infrastructure and applications, including those for cybersecurity, makes boundary-based cybersecurity technologies cumbersome and increasingly inadequate if implemented without other cybersecurity tools. Organizations need to go beyond VPN capabilities to ensure that devices connected to the corporate network from outside the company and data moving between devices and the network remain secure.
Internet speed is the main determinant of VPN speed. The VPN cannot be faster than the Internet connection between the device and the corporate network.
After Internet connection speed, VPN technology itself is the most important factor in determining VPN speed. The VPN technology companies build is primarily concerned with data security and privacy, and — depending on how each company encrypts and validates VPN traffic — if the encryption and validation technology increases data size, sends data through multiple checkpoints, or redirects, then VPN speeds may slow down traffic as it passes through VPN tunnels.
Another factor that affects the speed of a VPN is the amount of data transferred over a VPN connection at one time. For example, if someone participates in a video call (sending large amounts of data back and forth across the network), the VPN may be slower than a company file server for less data-intensive activities, such as accessing and saving text-based documents.
VPN security enables enterprise VPN users to maintain their privacy and protect their data when connecting to the Internet. Organizations use remote access VPNS to secure their remote employees’ VPNS and provide their branches with site-to-site VPNS.
Enterprise network security Solution alternative
There are better enterprise network security solutions than remote access to VPNS for organizations to connect their remote employees to the enterprise network. Organizations can also leverage sD-WAN solutions instead of relying on site-to-site VPNS to protect their branches. With the next generation OF SD-WAN, companies can get speed, lower total cost of ownership (TCO), and rich security and networking services from the cloud.
Cloud Network Security
With the rise of remote labor and cloud-based applications, more and more organizations need cloud network security rather than business VPNS to protect their networks. Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) solutions help organizations embrace the cloud and mobility by providing networking and network security services through a single cloud-based solution.
With the common framework provided by SASE solutions, organizations can get the cloud network security they need and simplify administration, achieve consistent visibility, and maximize the protection of networks between users, devices, and applications, no matter where they are located.