Companies have many options when it comes to VPN software. In this guest post, June Norton offers some tips to help IT choose.
Three little letters, VPN, can make or break your business. A virtual private network, or VPN, connects your business to remote computers, typically located at data centers.
You don’t need to have the servers physically connected to your business local area network to access these resources. The virtual private network client works through a client to connect you to these resources, with encrypted data that cannot be intercepted.
A VPN is a powerful tool for individuals and businesses of all sizes. Here are a few considerations to keep in mind when selecting a VPN provider for your business:
One of the most important factors in purchasing a VPN service is exactly where you’re connecting to. You want to make sure you’re minimizing the amount of lag in your connection, so choosing a VPN with a data center close by helps to reduce lag time. However, you might prefer a VPN located in a completely different geographic location for safety’s sake, or to base your content hosting in a different country.
Since a VPN connection is completely secured through a tunnel, it also opens up the possibilities of your employees working with network resources at home. You don’t have to worry about personal computers introducing unsafe security holes when connecting from home.
Look over the VPN service before deciding which to go with. You want to make sure you’re getting the hardware you need for the business applications and services you run through the VPN. Since you’ll most likely have multiple users connecting to the same VPN, you want to make sure their network resources are capable of handling everything you throw at it.
If possible, request a demo where you can connect to the hardware yourself, to determine whether or not the lag time is going to be too much for your business. Compare the hardware to your pricing budget, and use sites such as internetserviceproviders.com to see if you’re getting a good deal compared to other providers.
VPN protocols are the method used to keep your data safe when you send it from your business network to the VPN. This encryption technology comes in a few different forms. IPSec encrypts the data in two ways. The first only encrypts the data’s message, and not the packet. This is called transport.
For IPSec that encrypts the entire packet, you use tunneling mode. Secure Sockets Layer and Transport Layer Security are protocols you might see commonly on sites such as online banking. This is a handshake security method that has the client and server computers interact with each other, authenticating through certificates. Point to Point Tunneling Protocol is included with Windows, making it an easy-to-choose VPN protocol. It connects with remote client software and goes through the Internet to deliver the data to the VPN. Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol is typically used between websites, instead of between a business and its VPN servers.
Have you used VPN for your business before?
About the author: June Norton is a technology analyst for a large firm based on the East Coast. She travels often, follows The Economist avidly and hopes to be published in it someday