Business VPNs: How companies and employees need to adjust to remote access VPNs
In the immediate aftermath of the lockdown restrictions seen the world over, a huge number of companies had to change suddenly to working from home. The quick switch, in conjunction with a rising number of digital nomads even before the pandemic, has meant that businesses have had to stay secure using networks and internet connections outside of their protected sphere. Given the sensitivity of all company-specific data that may be transferred and transmitted whilst out of the office, businesses have had to introduce security practices to ensure the sanctity of their data. One such way they could do so is through the use of a corporate VPN.
What is a business VPN and why do businesses need them?
With so much sensitive data transmitted over an internet connection, it is imperative to protect it. Without the relevant protection in place, it is easy for hackers, cyber criminals and other prying eyes to intercept that data. Doing so could let them in on company secrets or view private customer data. When firms work remotely, employees will all be accessing company data over an internet connection that needs to be secured. Without being secure, data breaches can occur – damaging company reputations and impacting business operations. This is where a business VPN can come in handy.
What is a business VPN?
Knowing what a business VPN is, or simply what a VPN is, is key to ensuring you get the best one for your company. In short, a business VPN is a piece of security software. Once a VPN is established, it makes it far harder for hackers to infiltrate internet connections to ascertain confidential information.
How do VPNs protect remote employees’ network connections?
All VPNs work, largely, in the same way. A VPN establishes a secure network and a safe way to transmit data in a couple of ways. Firstly, it disguises your IP address by setting up a secure connection over an encrypted virtual tunnel. It makes users far more difficult to locate and therefore far harder to track their internet connection. Additionally, by encrypting data, if a hacker were to infiltrate a network, they would not be able to read the information they intercepted.
How do VPNs ensure the security of the business?
As briefly alluded to, VPNs ensure the security of a business as it means that all data that is transferred over an internet connection is encrypted – making it almost impossible to read by anyone other than for whom it was intended. Additionally, by masking each user’s location they are far harder to trace.
Many VPNs also provide other key features that increase their ability to protect a remote worker’s internet connection – thus increasing the security of a business at the same time.
What to look for in a VPN for business
While the technology for VPNs is broadly the same regardless of whether an individual or business uses it, what a VPN package as a whole needs to offer is slightly different if a company wants to use it. Many VPN packages, for example, do not allow many users at once under one subscription. Additionally, however, it has to be idiot-proof in terms of usage – everyone needs to be able to use it effectively across the business. Plus, it needs the ability to be used across multiple types of devices and internet connections. Finally, it needs to meet a company’s compliance requirements that will vary depending on industry and sector.
Types of business VPNs
There are a number of different types of VPN that can be more suited for a business VPN than others depending on the business’s needs. They are remote access, site to site and client based.
Remote access VPNs mean that remote workers can connect their devices to a remote server that is located elsewhere – even in another country. Doing so provides them with an added level of privacy and protection. Such VPNs are ones that are often used by individuals too, making a remote access VPN a suitable small business VPN option.
Site to site
Site to site VPNs allow connections to be made to many local area networks or LANs. As a result, teams can share information and data. This allows for collaboration even if they are not in the same location. All data is kept secure despite online communication. It is possible to use these types of VPN all over the world with several teams at once. It is therefore a possibility for medium and even large companies to use – depending on the applications they want to use.
Client based VPNs make it possible for users to establish a secure connection through a client-specific application. As a result, it looks and feels like the company itself is running the VPN and consequent security. Doing so means that each device needs to have the client based VPN software installed to be used. It will require a username and password. Once established, a connection is encrypted so that when data is transferred it is safe. Due to the need to install such software on many devices, this solution is often better aimed at those who need a small business VPN.
Differences between business VPN and VPNs for personal use
As mentioned above, VPNs do differ when used on a personal level and when used within a business. While the technology, at a basic level is the same, when used in practice they diverge.
For starters, the biggest difference is the number of people using the same VPN software. A business will likely have more than one user. That has implications on the size of account a business VPN needs to have, but also its capacity. Some VPN providers’ software will not be able to cope with several users under one account. Often, this will be down to the number of smaller sub accounts that are required for each user.
Business VPNs also need to be managed by a person. Doing so means that a corporate VPN must be set up for each remote worker correctly. This may mean having one person assign accounts to each individual user, but it is still necessary.
Businesses will often have their own servers too which a VPN needs to be able to interact with optimally. Some VPNs may only allow use of their own servers which can easily be overloaded at times of peak usage. Additionally, what the VPN connections are being used for varies greatly from personal to business. Personal usage will often be internet browsing or video streaming. Business VPNs need to work seamlessly with a company’s systems and applications.
As an employee, why do I need to use the company’s VPN and is it safe for me to do so?
Using a company VPN is important to ensure a company’s data protection policy is followed. Data breaches are a weak spot for companies and using a VPN package is one of the easiest ways to stop them occurring. Many companies do have the right to monitor what their worker’s internet usage is when using a company VPN. It is a good idea, then, not to use your business’s VPN for personal usage and instead have your own subscription elsewhere.
A business’s VPN is not there to protect your identity like a personal one is. As a result, any activity that goes against company policy could put you at risk. To protect yourself, make sure you know when you have established a VPN through your business account and when you have not.
Best business VPNs in the market
There are many different types of business VPN on the market. The ones that suit you specifically will depend on the size of your business and what your business does. You need to ensure that your chosen VPN provider also has military grade encryption and fast connections so that your remote workers’ productivity is not slowed down in any way.
Business VPNs – key takeaways
Business VPNs are more and more commonplace for an increasing remote workforce across the globe. Using them is a vital way that businesses can arm themselves against data breaches that are far more likely with employees working in a number of locations – all with different types of networks.