Why VPNs are so important to hybrid businesses

In 2022, 81 per cent of UK-registered businesses were subject to at least one cyberattack, up 10 per cent from the previous annual findings. Similar insights also indicated that only 32 per cent of UK businesses have a VPN for remote staff.

David Ballard, Director at Performance Networks, a specialist WiFi and Network consultancy, outlines what a VPN is, what its benefits are, and why they should be considered, but also look at an alternative that is becoming increasingly popular within the cybersecurity market.

First of all, what is a VPN?

A virtual private network (VPN) is a technology that creates a secure and encrypted connection over the internet, allowing remote users to securely access their company’s network and data from anywhere in the world.

With encryption, VPNs ensure that sensitive information remains confidential and protected from cyber attackers. VPN is, therefore, an essential tool for remote users who need a secure connection to access company resources from outside the office, including from the home, airports, cafes, and co-working spaces, places that are notorious for hackers to target.

VPNs come in all shapes and sizes to cater to different set-ups

There are various types of VPNs available, including:

  • Remote access - allows employees to connect to a company's network from outside the office
  • Site-to-site - connects an entire network together
  • Client-to-site - allow individual devices to connect to a company network securely

By understanding the different types of VPNs, you can choose the one that best fits your needs and enjoy a safer and more private Internet experience. With the big transition we’ve seen to remote working, there has also been a big shift toward client-to-site solutions.

SSL or IPsec? Which one is right for your business?

With an SSL VPN, corporations and individuals can securely access their data and applications over a public network. All they need is a web browser and an internet connection to connect and be safe.

One of the primary concerns is that SSL VPN uses web browsers to establish connections, meaning that it may have issues with older browsers or those that are not configured properly. Additionally, SSL VPN may have bandwidth limitations that can affect the speed and quality of the connection. Moreover, SSL VPN may not provide the same level of security as other types of VPNs, such as IPsec.

An IPsec VPN provides a secure channel for transmitting and receiving data packets over a public network such as the Internet.

Through the use of IPsec, data is protected from interception and unauthorised access, ensuring that the communication remains private and secure. But just like SSL, IPsec does come with its own limitations. One such is the complexity of the setup process, which can make it challenging for non-technical users to configure and operate. Additionally, IPsec VPN requires dedicated hardware, making it a costly option for small businesses or individuals.

The more security layers a business can have, the better

There needs to be a mixture of endpoint protection, VPN, and various authentications to give you the best chance of protecting yourself against this rising threat. Only by having that will you mitigate 99 per cent of attacks if your business does become a target of bad actors.

So, whether your data is sat behind an office, within a private data centre, or even a Cloud data centre, we would always recommend using a VPN for access and making sure you use MFA (Multifactor Authentication) when using it. This should cut out access if your device is compromised by a bad actor.

SASE (Secure Access Service Edge)

SASE is a cloud-based security framework that combines a range of services including VPN, firewall, and zero-trust network access into a single package.

By consolidating security services into a single platform, SASE streamlines enterprise security operations, giving IT teams greater visibility and control over their networks. Moreover, with cloud-based infrastructure, SASE enables businesses to scale their security needs more easily and cost-effectively.

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