What VPNs can do for your business

VPNs let you use public networks for your business data and be confident that it's safe.  VPN stands for Virtual Private Network and there are two types:

  • Encrypted VPNs that are only about securing your data, based either on IPSec, or on Secure Socket Layer (SSL) or it's successor Transport Layer Security (TLS) – the same type of security that you get when you see https on a website

  • Routed VPNs that both secure your data and use private routes through the network to guarantee performance, based on multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) or virtual private LAN service (VPLS).

Encrypted VPNs let your employees access data on your servers from home or when travelling.  The connections are made over the normal Internet but secured by encryption.  IPSec VPNs are based on 'pre-shared key' security, the key can be manually pre-installed on the user's laptop or mobile device, or an additional secure ID token can be used, which shows a number that the user has to type into the connection interface.  SSL and TLS VPNs don't need to be set up on the laptop or mobile device in advance and can also be made more secure by using tokens.  The tokens can either be a separate small device or an app on a smartphone.

Routed VPNs provide a flexible means of interconnecting the data networks at multiple sites, without needing to install physical connections between all the sites.  These VPNs keep the data separate from the public Internet and make the connection more reliable by guaranteeing data capacity and the maximum delay and can prioritize different types of traffic.  As well as being suitable for access to data, they can be used for VoIP and for running programs on servers at a different site.

In short, its helpful to have a network security plan in place rather than wait for disaster to strike.  By developing a strategy using VPNs, you can help ensure that your business is prepared and not leaving things to chance.