Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) have become big news due to the growing public awareness and concerns about data security. VPNs provide encrypted communication channels between two points (which can either be a single user, or a gateway to an entire network) and secure all network traffic between them, stopping the snooping of transmitted data.
If you have more than one office, it can be useful to access resources (like file servers or printers) hosted in remote sites directly. This can allow some parts of a business to be moved to more specialised or cheaper locations while still maintaining the appearance of a single unified organisation.
VPNs can act as a bridge between two independent LANs, securely routing traffic across any network link (including Internet links) between the two sites. Whereas in the past people have had to use expensive, dedicated leased-line connections between sites, the increase in broadband and public network connection speeds means they are becoming a cheaper viable option. Using a VPN ensures that even if traffic between sites is intercepted, the data is encrypted and so almost impossible to read.
With the growing popularity of home-based workers and remote teams, maintaining secure connections between your main office and offsite users is essential to protecting your data. A properly configured VPN provides a way for all of your network users to be able to access internal systems without having to expose them to the public Internet.
VPN connections can also ensure that mobile workers, such as delivery drivers or on-site support teams, have secure access to centralised information systems such as databases and document repositories. Transport-level encryption offered by VPNs prevents data from being intercepted and read, keeping sensitive information private while still allowing access to the people who need it.
Local to remote servers
If you have servers hosted on the public Internet, you may wish to securely access services on those computers without allowing anyone else to access them. Firewalls may be used to limit who can connect to a service, but they offer no protection against people reading data as it’s being transmitted. While most services offer some form of encrypted connection, these are usually application-specific and require custom configuration and management of encryption resources. Correctly configuring and maintaining these requires an expert on each service, which can quickly increase system administration costs.
As a VPN works on a host-based level, you only need to manage a single set of configuration and encryption resources, rather than a set for each service running on a remote server. This simplifies system administration, reducing the time and costs involved, and removes the risk of accidental data exposure. Also, because a VPN connection works at the transport layer, even services that don’t offer any secure connection facilities of their own are automatically protected.
We can set up VPNs for you
We use standards-compliant, open source server software to provide VPN services, as commercial VPN servers are generally unable to provide higher levels of security and can potentially have undiscovered (or unreported) flaws which undermine their effectiveness.
Using open-source VPN server software means that the code can be reviewed for weaknesses, by teams across the globe (thus preventing government-level interference), and makes it practically impossible for back-doors and other exploits to be incorporated. Wherever possible, we use the VPN clients built-in to operating systems rather than third-party software, further reducing the risk of unwanted or unexpected behaviour. This combination provides the highest level of security and support with the minimum cost.
Contact us to see how we can help you implement a VPN solution tailored to your needs