How VPNs Protect Online Privacy and Security
The Internet facilitates a great deal of business activity around the world by enabling communication and data exchange across network boundaries, effectively creating a global marketplace. However, transmitting sensitive information across the public Internet always carries a risk of exposure, which is why most organizations rely upon virtual private networks (VPNs) to create secure connections.
VPNs create encrypted, point-to-point tunnels between endpoints, allowing users to share data as if they were on a private network. This has become especially important with the rise of remote, hybrid and mobile work models that require giving employees access to company networks, applications and data from any location.
VPNs come in two basic flavors — site-to-site or remote access. Site-to-site VPNs are typically permanent connections that allow geographically dispersed organizations to connect offices in different locations. Remote-access VPNs are temporary connections that allow individual users to connect with the corporate network.
How VPNs Work
In a typical site-to-site deployment, a VPN gateway or appliance is deployed behind the firewall to establish communication sessions and manage access to network resources. In remote-access VPNs, users initiate connections by launching VPN client software on their device and providing credentials such as a username and password.
In both cases, security is achieved through a three-pronged approach: authorization, encryption and authentication. First, anyone attempting to gain access to the network must be positively identified as an authorized user through a digital certificate. The next step is the establishment of an encrypted tunnel across the IP network using various VPN security protocols. Once authorized users are behind the company firewall, authentication protects the company network by only giving each user access to certain applications and data.
Mobile connectivity presents unique challenges for traditional VPN solutions. Mobile devices suffer from data transfer and processing power limitations that can create performance issues. Increasingly, VPN solutions include mobility modules that optimize data for smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices, support Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity, and maintain tunnels while roaming.
Why You Need a VPN
An effective VPN solution is really a business imperative. It allows you to efficiently exchange data with partners and colleagues without the security and privacy risks involved with exposing such data on public IP networks. It provides a cost-effective way to remain connected with branch offices and an increasingly mobile workforce. Today’s VPNs are also scalable, making it easy to accommodate growth without requiring reconfiguration or new components.
An effective VPN solution is really a business imperative.
While VPNs have been around for a while and are generally well understood by IT professionals, they do require a good deal of management expertise. The security protocols that drive tunneling, data transport, encryption and authentication can be quite complex. For organizations lacking in-house expertise, cloud-based or managed VPN services can be good choices. In a cloud-based service, the VPN appliance resides in a service provider’s data center. A managed services approach allows you to keep the appliance on-premises and have it managed by a qualified managed services provider.
Whether you are new to VPN technology, seeking a more robust solution or considering mobile connectivity options, GDS can evaluate your requirements and recommend an approach that makes sense for your staffing capabilities and budget. Contact us to schedule a confidential consultation.
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