Using my cybersecurity expertise and my industry contacts, I put together this list of VPN benefits for your business.
Any company, big or small, can be hurt by existing threats to cybersecurity, and a VPN for business can mitigate their impact.
In this guide, I explain how a VPN can help companies, depending on the different types of VPN for business available.
Benefits of Site-to-Site VPN
One type of VPNs for business is called site-to-site VPN.
It’s an encrypted connection between two or more locations (e.g., a company’s headquarters and a branch office in a different location) laid over the public Internet.
The VPN encapsulates the data transmitted between the two and the traffic from the outside is blocked. Each connection between a branch office and the central hub goes through a secure IPsec tunnel. This is called the “hub-and-spoke” VPN topology.
Therefore, the data is protected and kept within the internal network only, with no third parties gaining access to it. That’s the difference between site-to-site VPN and consumer VPN. The purpose of the latter is to protect individuals from being tracked and their activities exposed.
Some providers of site-to-site VPN solutions are Check Point, Amazon Web Services, and Perimeter 81 (highly recommended).
I’ll explain the benefits of site-to-site VPN for companies below.
If your company has offices globally, chances are your teams collaborate on projects with OneDrive and access internal apps like Workday. These apps can contain your data, your colleagues’ data, and your clients’ data!
Site-to-site VPN can protect the connection to those resources to ensure this data remains secure. Similarly, if your company has service site clients that need to connect to your internal resources, the VPN can ensure that connection is accessible by that client only.
2. Reduction of Security Breach Risk
Site-to-site VPN creates an encrypted tunnel between each sites’ VPN gateways.
The result is a single wide-area network (WAN) shared by employees in all office locations which restricts access from outside the network. Or, if you’re using it for clients, the WAN is shared between specific clients and the headquarters/service center only.
So, if an employee from one office or a client needs to access the internal resources, they can do so safely knowing that the data won’t be breached by an external party.
To achieve that, an administrator needs to define the rule that only users inside the network can access the resources. And since the employees/clients who enable site-to-site VPN client are inside the local network, whereas third parties who don’t turn on the VPN are outside, it’s a very straightforward rule to define!
3. Cost- and Time-Saving on Corporate Security for Large Organizations
With site-to-site VPN, companies don’t need to worry about creating expensive physical network connections between the headquarters and other sites in different locations. That can require additional time and costs, as well as extra work for the organization’s IT department.
If, however, you buy a site-to-site VPN solution, it’ll be serviced by your provider, thus reducing the workload.
With a site-to-site VPN, you also won’t have to buy individual VPN software for each device. That could help you save on costs, particularly if you have a large organization with many employees across the world.
Installing a VPN app on each device would simply take a lot of time and cost you a lot of money – not to mention your IT department would be swamped with users’ questions on how to use it!
If, however, your company is small with few employees, you might want to consider remote-access VPN to save on costs.
Benefits of Remote Access VPN
Unlike site-to-site VPN, remote access VPN allows your employees to connect to your company’s local area network (LAN) from anywhere.
And such VPNs require a VPN client installed on a device to connect to the VPN gateway and send the data to it, which site-to-site VPNs don’t.
The gateway requires that each user is authenticated before giving them access.
This ensures that no unauthorized users get access to the company’s network.
Remote access VPNs are more like consumer VPNs than site-to-site VPNs in their set-up as both require installation of a VPN client. But the purpose of remote access VPNs is the same as site-to-site VPN – and that is to protect business data and keep it within the internal network.
Some of remote Access VPN providers are Cisco, Perimeter 81 (also offers site-to-site VPN), CheckPoint, NordVPN (its NordVPNTeams product), and Pulse Secure.
If you’re not sure which of them is for you, take a look at this guidance provided by the NSA. These are the benefits of having a remote access VPN solution that meets the specifications in the guidance for your company.
1. Work Securely – From Anywhere
Using remote access VPN whilst working remotely can help protect the company from cybersecurity threats your employees might accidentally encounter.
For instance, if they’re working in a coffee shop or an airport using public Wi-Fi, their data is vulnerable to hackers. And if they work with the company’s trade secrets, for instance, or personal data, the breaches are even more dangerous since that information is very valuable!
Remote access VPN protects the data you exchange with others in your organization when working remotely.
For example, if you’re traveling for sales meetings, you might need to use your organization’s internal resources in presentations.
Sometimes, the only way to access them is to connect to a client’s office Wi-Fi.
Whilst you hope to trust your clients, the organization’s internal resources you’re sharing with them are exposed.
If this information has commercial value, there’s no guarantee anyone from the client’s organization, or even a guest connected to their network won’t attempt to get hold of it over their network. In such cases, it’s best to enable remote access VPN as soon as you join the network. That way, the data is protected by an encryption tunnel.
2. Protected Access to LAN and Saving on Office Costs
Like site-to-site VPN, remote access VPN allows for secure connection to an organization’s network. However, your employees don’t need to be physically present in any office with remote access VPN clients installed on their devices.
That way, you can hire more remote employees and save money on office space and desks!
For the best results, consider splitting your employees’ traffic into VPN-routed and other. This is known as “force and split tunnelling” or “persistent and selective VPN”, as illustrated. If all traffic goes through VPN (force tunnelling), it might create bottlenecks on the server, resulting in speed reduction.
With the correctly configured split tunnelling, only the traffic related to your LAN will be encrypted with VPN. That would reduce the pressure on your network resources and improve user experience.
3. Working Safely on Mobile Devices
If you’re working on your commute and you’re answering e-mails or accessing files on the company’s server on your corporate mobile using public Wi-Fi, your phone is vulnerable to data breaches.
Perhaps even more so that your laptop– there are many people around you, each of whom could be targeting the Wi-Fi to steal data!
If you’re working with confidential information and personal data on the company server, it’s visible to the ISP and is vulnerable.
That’s why it’s important to protect the data on both corporate computers and phones!
Installing a remote access VPN client on your corporate mobile would allow you to connect to the e-mail app and access the company server securely.
4. Compliance with Personal Data Laws
Many companies have to comply with the GDPR and other personal data laws and must introduce technical measures to protect the data they process.
A remote access VPN can restrict access of third parties to such personal data. The encryption tunnel would also allow your responsible employees to access and process the data securely.
This measure, if implemented correctly, can help you stay compliant with the law.
Conclusion – Can Your Business Benefit From a VPN?
Yes, your business can absolutely benefit from a VPN!
But it depends on the size, structure and products of your organization. For a smaller company or a company that uses remote workforce, you should consider remote access VPN.
If you’re with a large organization that’s mostly office-based and has service site clients that use your resources, look into site-to-site VPN offerings.