VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a common phrase heard today. With the rapid increase in the amount of the American workforce telecommuting, VPNs are being utilized more and more to ensure continuity as a business moves to remote work. But just what is a VPN Connection?

What is a VPN?

VPNs give you access to your business’ internal network. This is the network you would typically use day to day if you were not telecommuting, and contains all the information you typically need to get your job done. A VPN connection is helpful in two aspects – it helps keep your business secure from cyber threats, and it allows users to access their files, applications, and data as though they were in the office.

Why Use a VPN?

Organizations use VPN because it’s like you never left the office. Using a VPN connection for your business means that any files or other information you may need access to, that is only available on your company’s network, can be easily accessed even when you are at home.

While some employees may use applications that are cloud-based, or internet-based, there are often many team members who have items saved to the business network that they use every day. Anything from a word document to desktop applications can be accessed just as though you were in the office.

How Does My Business Ensure a Secure Connection for VPN?

Licenses are required to allow users to access a VPN. As we mentioned in our telecommuting article, it is important to understand how many end users will need VPN access so that you have a sufficient amount of licenses available. Otherwise, not all employees who need it will be able to access the VPN, leading to frustration and lower productivity.

Once you have the licenses, however, you have control over who you let into your network. Access to the VPN is encrypted, and it is strongly recommended to use company computers only, as well as multi-factor authentication (MFA) as an added layer of protection. As always, ensure that end user passwords for their VPN login are strong.

With this encryption, as well as the added layers of security, it severely lowers the chances of someone external being able to get onto your business network. Accessing information through a VPN is a much stronger solution than having all information physically on an end user’s desktop while working from home, where an external person could easily access their Wi-Fi and then business information. The US of Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has warned of increased attacks, and recommends using an updated VPN with multi-factor authentication, along with other security measures, to protect your organization.

How to Choose the Best VPN Service for your Needs

Questions to Consider Before Choosing a VPN Service

  • How Do Individuals Access the VPN?
    • It is important to have a protocol for end users to follow while logging into the VPN, for both security and ease of use. This prevents your I.T. team from being bogged down in questions on how to access the VPN, and can also ensure that users have strong enough passwords to strengthen your network against security threats.
  • How Many Concurrent Connections Are Allowed?
    • As mentioned above, VPN licenses must be purchased for each user who is connecting to the network. To ensure high productivity and low frustration among end users, make sure you know how many individuals will be accessing your business’ VPN at one time, so you can ensure you have enough concurrent connections available.
  • Does your VPN Provider Limit Bandwidth?
    • This can be another source of frustration, as limited bandwidth means slower loading times, issues with video conferencing, and more. When choosing a VPN provider, understand your bandwidth needs and choose one that works for your use case. Make sure your office site has enough bandwidth, as well as a stable internet connection. It would be beneficial to run a test session, and record how much bandwidth your organization uses.
  • How much traffic will go through the VPN Connection?
    • There are two options for sending information across a VPN. Split tunneling involves encrypting only what is hosted by your company’s internal network, which can be a less secure option. However, if all traffic coming through the VPN is encrypted, more bandwidth is required. It is important to consider the details of these options to decide what is best for your business.
  • What happens if things go wrong?
    • Understand how to handle the VPN connection if something stops working. Ensure that you have backups for your business site’s internet, such as a cellular backup. Know if your firewall has a failover or if it is standalone, and be prepared for other troubleshooting that may arise.

VPNs have multiple aspects that should be thoroughly considered before choosing one for your organization. It is important to consult with your I.T. team for both operational and security purposes to ensure you have an optimized VPN solution.

In Summary

A VPN connection is a great tool when working remotely, both for the current times, and for business operations in general. They help to secure your business network, ensure business continuity for employees when they are away from the office, all while being accessed from anywhere.

If you need assistance setting up, securing, or understanding a VPN connection, contact NetGain today!

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