What is a VPN and Why Do I Need One?

What is a VPN

The recent pandemic has seen a huge shift in how and where people work. Remote working has become an option or necessity, and modern IT equipment allows employees to effectively work away from the office. However, the shift is not without some danger.

Cyber crime is on the increase, with 39% of businesses and 26% of charities reporting security breaches or attacks in 2020. One well known security weakness for IT systems, is when remote users access company data or applications, over a public network. This is the default situation for many employees working at home. The good news is there is a very simple, effective and low-cost way of minimising this security risk. The VPN.

What is a VPN

Simply put, a VPN or Virtual Private Network is a piece of hardware, software or a service that creates a secure connection to a business network, over the public internet. It uses encryption to create a secure ‘tunnel’ between critical business servers and remote workers, stopping unauthorised access and prying eyes, even on public Wi-Fi networks. Think of a secure tunnel that only you are allowed to go down.

VPN in use

What protection does a VPN provide?

Using a VPN is all about ensuring that your company data is protected as it crosses global public networks. There are three main ways in which a VPN protects your data. Together, these three measures provide a must-have level of protection for any business that uses public networks to access proprietary data.

What protection does a VPN provide?

1. Encryption

A VPN uses secure encryption to scramble your data, making it unreadable to unauthorised devices. This means that even if the network you were using was attacked, all the hackers would see would be a meaningless stream of ones and zeros. Your company data and information would remain secure.

2. Private tunnel

To add an additional level of protection, all the encrypted data are encased in a layer of secure packets, which create a private tunnel inside the public network. This helps shield even the encrypted data from unwanted interference.

3. Hides location and IP address

When you access the internet from a VPN, you do so via a gateway server, which hides your physical location and IP address. Internet service providers (ISPs) only know that a secure VPN connection was used. They cannot track a user’s activity.

What are the benefits of a VPN for my business?

A VPN is all about providing a layer of security to protect company data. Let’s look at four ways in which a good VPN will help protect your business.

What are the benefits of a VPN for my business?

1. Remote access

In an office environment, a business will have a firewall to help provide data security. There is an internal network to connect printers, share data and access applications. But what about the remote worker? Home networks, and even worse, public Wi-Fi hotspots in places like coffee shops, are notoriously insecure and a haven for hackers. A VPN provides multiple layers of security to encrypt the connection between the remote worker and your office network, protecting your company data and online assets.

2. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

With smartphones, tablets, MacBooks, and PCs all widely available and able to access the internet, many companies support the use of an employee’s own device for remote working. The good news is that a VPN is device agnostic. Windows, macOS, Linux? Android or Apple? Employees can connect securely to your network using a VPN, using whichever internet enabled device they prefer.

3. Controlling access

A good VPN service allows a company to control the access a remote user has, once they have securely connected. By identifying and authenticating a specific user as they log into the VPN, appropriate access levels to company data and systems can be granted.

4. Fighting Cyber-attacks

As well as encrypting data, a VPN can be used to block harmful content and only allow access to work appropriate sites. This is particularly useful in reducing phishing attacks, where harmful program code, known as malware, can be unwittingly downloaded.

How do you get a VPN for your business?

Well we can help with that. Mintivo provides managed IT support with exceptional customer service and VPNs are very important to us! We offer help with cyber security as well as all aspects of network connectivity. If you would like to find out more about how we can help your business, including how to implement an appropriate VPN, please get in touch.