Hi everyone, my name is Nicolas Cuts. I’m a Switcherry VPN employee. In this article, I will tell you about the advantages of using VPN technologies in your business.
In a public network, which is exactly what the Internet is, all information flows are all publicly available which means they can be potentially hacked by anyone. Moreover, Internet providers monitor the online activities of their clients and record it all in log files – your online activities can easily be checked by law enforcement authorities. This isn’t relevant for ordinary users that only view content that’s legal in their country, but is completely crucial for any sort of business.
For any commercial enterprise, it is vital to protect their sensitive data, to keep it out of the hands of both their competitors and government agencies, since the very possibility of a data leak threatens the existence of the entire company. And this goes for not only strictly commercial enterprises, but also law and notarial offices, hospitals and other places that deal with sensitive personal information. This article will tell you about simple and cheap but reliable ways for a business to protect its data.
Table of contents
- 1 What’s a VPN
- 2 Why businesses need a VPN
- 3 Why VPNs for businesses and personal use are not the same thing
- 4 What to pay attention to when choosing a VPN for your business
- 5 How to use VPNs for business
- 6 Conclusions
What’s a VPN
VPN technology allows you to securely protect the data you send and receive. VPN stands for “Virtual Private Network”. In an open network (usually, the Internet), a sub-network with safe encrypted connections – “tunnels” – is created. A VPN is designed to
- protect data flows from hackers;
- make it impossible for your Internet provider to track your online activities;
- ensure your sensitive data transmissions are secure.
Why businesses need a VPN
A VPN allows you to securely hide confidential information, both from your competitors and the government.
Since all traffic in a VPN is securely encrypted, you can be sure of your utmost confidentiality, data leaks are out of the question.
Data protection. Cyber security
Data transmitted through a VPN is securely protected from getting hacked and intercepted. You can be sure that your company’s confidential data won’t fall in the hands of your competitors, scammers or government agencies. By hiding or changing the IP addresses of your company’s servers, you eliminate the possibility of targeted virus attacks. Using a VPN significantly improves the security of online banking transactions, reducing the likelihood of losing money because of cybercriminals.
One of the most important objectives of using VPN technologies in business is to provide reliable and secure access to the company’s server for remote staff from home offices. The VPN tunnels also allow you to safely and reliably connect your company’s headquarters with its subsidiaries, which can be in another region or even in another country.
Simple management of remote access
VPN technology allows you to easily monitor online access to company servers. For one category of remote users, the network administrator can allow access to all data, for another – only to individual files and folders. This is especially convenient when the company regularly hires freelancers: such temporary employees are given access to specific company servers and after their task is complete – the access rights are revoked.
If anyone can fully appreciate all the benefits of using a VPN, it’s the employees of companies that are constantly on the move, on business trips. A secure VPN connection allows you to anywhere on the planer make safe purchases, process bank transactions, use email and messengers, without fear of getting hacked and losing personal data, including places where connecting to the Internet carries with it a fair share of risk, for example in public Wi-Fi networks.
Using a VPN will also give you access to resources that are blocked in the country you are currently in and let you enjoy streaming content without any restrictions. Wherever you are, you can be sure that no one steals your bank card info, won’t hack your email or social media accounts – a VPN eliminates the very possibility of sensitive data leaks.
Any company can independently create and configure its own VPN on its servers. However, the deployment of your own VPN entails certain difficulties and significant financial expenses, since you need to keep around a team of highly qualified IT specialists, which is completely out of the question for small companies. By using a corporate VPN service, provided by large VPN companies, such as Switcherry VPN, you save a lot of time and money, because for a small fee you get a ready-made business solution that is reliable, easy to install and, if need be, easily expandable.
Why VPNs for businesses and personal use are not the same thing
Despite the fact that VPNs for individual clients and VPNs for business are based on the same technology, they are used for different purposes:
- individuals use VPNs mainly in order to protect their online freedom from any type of encroachment, in other words, to make sure they remain anonymous and are not tracked, also to gain access to restricted Internet resources, etc.;
- entrepreneurs use VPNs to ensure the safety and smooth running of their business, to protect brand secrets from competitors and eliminate the threat of sensitive data leaks, as well as to establish reliable and safe communication lines between the company’s remote offices.
From a technical point of view, VPNs for business and personal use have the following differences:
- an individual client using the cheapest tariff plan or just a free VPN isn’t assigned a personal IP address. или использующему бесплатный VPN не предоставляется постоянный IP-адрес. The same server and the same IP can be used by hundreds and thousands of other customers;
- business VPN offers provide clients with a permanent IP address and a dedicated server;
- VPN for personal use works along the line of “One Account – One Client”;
- business VPN accounts can accommodate any number of users. The company’s personnel manager can easily manage the list of employees, removing fired employees and providing access to newly accepted one.
What to pay attention to when choosing a VPN for your business
First of all, you should figure out what type of VPN will suit your company best. There are 3 types:
- VPNs with direct remote access – similar to the VPNs for individual use. “Tunnels” (secure connections, protected from hacker attacks) are created between the computers of the client and the VPN server. Great for a small company that has only one office (or even has no physical office) and hires freelancers for remote work. Simple to add/remove workers. Company managers can also easily monitor and control the traffic of remote workers.
- Intranet-based site-to-site VPN – used when you need to establish a secure connection between the remote offices of one In other words, when you need to merge several local networks (LAN) into a single global one (WAN). “Tunnels” that prevent unauthorized entry connect the company’s head office with its subsidiaries. VPN tunnels are created between gateways. VPN routers or special software (“VPN servers”), installed on the company servers act as gateways. At the gateway, the outgoing traffic is encrypted, while the incoming is decrypted, within the local network all data is accessible. The company’s system administrator can easily monitor the actions of regular employees and, for example, provide access to separate sections and files of the company servers and make impossible visits to certain Internet resources.
- Extranet -based site-to-site VPN – used when you need to establish a secure connection between networks that belong to different Companies can freely engage in data exchanges, without having to worry about sensitive data leaks, but the employees of one company do not have access to the other’s network.
To get the maximum data storage and transfer security choose “Zero trust” networks, in which all users have their own level of access and all their actions are monitored and analyzed by the network administrator.
There are many encryption protocols. Some of them are considered “weak”, in other words, relatively easy to decipher. Many VPN providers allow you to choose a specific protocol to create a VPN tunnel. The most popular cryptographic protocols are OpenVPN, IPSec, L2TP, PPTP, SSTP, IKEV2.
- PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol) – the oldest protocol among the ones that are still in use and accordingly is the least safe. Its advantages is that it’s widespread and not demanding when it comes to server computing power. Recommended only for those who require high data transfer speed above all else, including protection from hackers. For example, it’s a good choice if you need a VPN to watch streaming content.
- L2TP (Layer 2 Tunnel Protocol) – a protocol, similar to the previous one. Used in conjunction with IPsec.
- IPsec (Internet Protocol Security) – a powerful cryptographic tool for reliable data protection. When creating VPN tunnels, it is usually used in conjunction with the L2TP protocol and in this case referred to as L2TP/IPsec.
- SSTP (Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol) – developed by Microsoft based on SSL/TLS encryption protocol. (SSL/TLS is used by the famous HTTPS protocol that encrypts the transmitted data.) Since SSTP is a proprietary protocol (all rights belong to Microsoft), it is used on Windows servers.
- OpenVPN – a free SSL/TLS based open source encryption protocol. Very powerful and reliable, but demanding in terms of computation power, which is why the data transfer speed can slow down, especially on low-power servers.
- IKEv2 (Internet Key Exchange version 2) – Developed by Microsoft and Cisco on the base of IPSec. Reliable and safe, but is not very widespread.
VPNs for businesses provided a selected (static) IP, since having a dynamic IP makes it impossible or extremely difficult to give remote employees access to company servers.
High data transfer speed may be crucial when choosing a VPN provider. If it’s too low, networks with a large number of users can experience problems when transferring data, won’t be able to watch videos live, downloading big files will take way too long, it will be almost impossible to hold a video conference between branches of the company and remote employees, etc.
A dedicated server
Only a powerful dedicated physical server connected to a high bandwidth channel is able to satisfy all the needs of a large company. For small enterprises, the best solution will be to rent a virtual dedicated server.
Processing speed is also very important. Reliable cryptographic protocols make high demands on a server’s computational capabilities, so it’s best to choose servers with powerful multi-core processors and lots of RAM. If you’re planning on renting a virtual dedicated server, ask how many virtual servers are located on a single physical one and how system resources are distributed between them.
How to use VPNs for business
Large companies with many branches usually set up their own VPNs. This approach eats up a lot of time and requires significant financial expenses – hiring a team of highly qualified IT specialists. For small and medium-sized companies, an ideal solution will be to purchase a ready-made service package from a reliable VPN provider.
Buy a paid package and install clients on all working stations
A VPN with direct remote access is the best solution for small businesses. Particularly suitable for companies that lack an actual physical office and often hire freelancers. Work-from-home employees install the VPN client on their computers and that establishes a secure connection to the VPN-provider’s server. The company manager easily manages the traffic that passes through the VPN server, providing access to newly hired employees and taking it away from those leaving the company (naturally, each freelancer can turn off the VPN client and just access the Internet directly as usual).
Buy access and configure a secure connection to your router
For companies with small physical offices, the most inexpensive solution will be the creation of an internal network on a VPN router with the subsequent purchase of access to a VPN provider’s server (a VPN router is a router with an operating system that supports VPN tunneling). After creating a VPN tunnel, the company’s employees are forced to go online exclusively through the “tunnel” between the VPN router and the VPN server. The company manager receives complete control over incoming and outgoing traffic.
- Protecting sensitive data is vital for any company and organization
- VPN technology allows you to reliably hide critical information, both from your competitors and government agencies
- VPN technology is based on cryptographic protocols that encrypt network traffic. Some protocols are technically undemanding, almost do not affect data transfer speed, but aren’t secure, others reliably protect data, but require server with considerable computational power and to some extent slow down the transfer speed;
- When choosing a VPN provider, special attention should be paid to the characteristics of the server provided: the processing speed, the number of cores, RAM size, whether or not there’s a high bandwidth channel.
If you have any questions related to data protection and cyber security, contact our company’s specialists. Our managers will help you choose a tariff plan, optimal for the needs of your company.