What Is A VPN – Virtual Private Network? Do I Need One?

What is a Virtual Private Network (VPN)?

A Virtual Private Network is a tool used by businesses to allow employees to access resources in the office from remote locations, safely and securely. It is an excellent tool for those who have concerns over cloud security.

How does a Virtual Private Network work?

Virtual private networks are used to setup a direct connection between your computer and the office by way of a private tunnel over the internet.

Normally, when you send information over the internet, it is sent as a piece of data called a packet. Often, packets are in plain text and can be easily read by anyone or scanned by Big Data. Packets also carry your IP address.

With a virtual private network, your packet is encapsulated inside of another packet to protect what you are transmitting. In this way, your sensitive information is better protected than if sent via email or open internet.

And using a VPN is easy. Logging in to your VPN is like just logging into a computer with a username and password. Only those with the correct login credentials can access the VPN. Just like a standard computer user profile or account, we can setup a VPN to only be accessible with certain permissions and restrictions.

Types Of VPN’s

There are two types of VPN’s – a site to site VPN and a client to site VPN.

A site to site VPN is used to connect two networks together, for example, connecting a head office network to a satellite office network. Instead of using the open internet to get a file from another site, you would use your Virtual Private Network tunnel.

Diagram of a site to site VPN.

A client to site VPN is used to connect a single computer to a network. For example, you may have hired a lawyer to review internal company documents, and you had a client to site VPN set up so the lawyer can securely access your company documents as needed to conduct the review.

Diagram of a client to site VPN.

Do I Need A VPN?

A Virtual Private Network makes sense if you need to allow employees or consultants from other offices to access your network, server and files via a secure connection

With cloud or email, you are sending or accessing files across the open internet. Files are commonly encrypted and mostly secure, but the question is, how much do you trust Big Data? Do you trust that your files are not scanned, mined or metadata exploited? Can you be sure your files wouldn’t be turned over the the NSA or CSIS? Maybe that seems a bit too paranoid and isn’t a concern for you, in which case, you likely don’t need a VPN. However, if you are in a sensitive industry like legal, healthcare or finance and trading, you may want to consider setting up a Virtual Private Network for your team.

In addition, cyber-criminals and hackers can also better access files sent across the open internet versus a VPN, so that is another data security consideration.

And finally, it’s interesting to note that even the Canadian government would prefer to house sensitive Canadian data pertaining to government programs and citizens on Canadian servers and soil. Microsoft is planning to build Canadian data centres for this purpose.

Network Setup Services in Toronto: If you have network security concerns, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation. We are TUCU, an IT Support Company in Toronto. Let us help you choose the right network security and remote work solutions for you. Schedule your free consultation to discuss your needs.

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