No business today can function without the Internet. Even if you don’t need it for obvious purposes (e.g., to sell your products online), you cannot exist in full isolation from the web. You and your employees have to exchange information, get access to the company’s resources, perform financial transactions and so on. However, doing so means running serious security risks. One of the most common ways of fighting these risks is setting up a VPN.
A VPN (or virtual private network) is a network connecting devices in a way that allows them to share information via an encrypted connection over the Internet. Even if the need for VPN didn’t yet arise in your company, it might be a good idea to consider setting it up – in this article we will cover the most important pros and cons of doing so.
When compared with other methods of distance communication among employees, VPNs offer a much higher degree of security because they make unauthorized access much more difficult. If your employees have to regularly communicate with each other over long distances and share sensitive information, having a VPN will undoubtedly help you feel safer.
Paradoxically, VPNs can cause security issues of their own in wireless networks, especially if your company widely uses mobile devices. That is why you may need an additional layer of protection to ensure rogue devices cannot connect to your network.
Setting up and maintaining your own VPN can be a complicated task calling for considerable expertise. Problems are not limited to its initial configuration but also to potential issues that can happen when it is in use. You can, however, sign up for a VPN provider and let them handle the technical stuff – but first, you may want to study the ultimate privacy guide to understand better what you should be looking for.
VPNs are quire scalability-friendly – it is easy to introduce new users to the network as the company, and its infrastructure grow. However, you should carefully study the conditions offered by the product vendor you deal with. The cost of deploying additional infrastructure may be unreasonably high for some of them, and switching to a different vendor may cause compatibility issues. Make sure you plan for growth and deal with vendors whose conditions suit you all the way.
VPN’s reliability is strongly dependent on the service provider. Before signing up for any of them, you should carefully study the contract and user reviews and look for a variant that guarantees minimal downtime. Otherwise, VPN can become a source of more problems than it is worth. However, it is not a problem of the system per se but rather of individual providers.
Again, before signing up for any particular deal, make sure you understand what you are paying for and what can modify this price. All in all, when compared to traditional Wide Area Networks (WANs), operational costs of VPN are much more affordable.
One of the advantages provided by VPN is that it allows you to access the Internet using an IP of another country. It can be useful for many reasons: to bypass region locks (some websites aren’t available to users from particular countries or outside of particular countries), for search reasons (Internet searches return wildly different results depending on the region you are in) and so on.
All in all, there are certainly more arguments in favor of VPNs than there are against them. If you take information security of your company seriously, you should certainly consider establishing one.