With the rise of digital technology and remote jobs, VPNs have become more popular today. VPNs provide secure and private data access to all employees while restricting connections from outside a company.
A virtual private network does not rely on costly hardware to function. Instead, closed-off networks are created using the open Internet connection to enable data transfer through an encrypted and secure tunnel/channel.
The Internet is a public entity due to its nature and design. Encryption helps ward off cyberattacks and keeps a corporate network environment safe.
Making the right choice requires technical knowledge and understanding, which is why we have compiled this guide.
What Are The Different Types Of VPN Services?
Although all VPN types offer similar problem-solving capabilities, the method used varies vastly. In the end, they all help protect a company and its network from unwanted access. Let us look at these in detail below:
A site-to-site VPN is used to connect multiple offices to form one huge private network. This type of connection is fixed and stays on all the time.
However, all networks need to be configured separately using firewalls or Wifi routers present onsite. This connection is perfect for companies with several remote sites/offices.
Site-to-site VPN connections are not very useful if employees wish to connect to the corporate network from their homes. The VPN’s administrators disallow connections that cannot be thoroughly controlled or monitored. Accessibility is restricted in such cases to ensure maximum security.
This type of VPN is pretty affordable when it comes to merging several networks to form one intranet network. Each device connected via a site-to-site VPN is based on the same LAN (Local Area Network) to ease data transfer and prevent cybercriminals from gaining access to the network.
Benefits Of Site-to-Site VPNs
- One network is connected with another using this VPN.
- Several networks are combined to create one single, larger private network.
- There is no need for additional software or installations.
- Perfect for both Intranet-based VPNs and Extranet-based VPNs.
- An intranet-based VPN establishes a Wide Area Network or WAN that allows access to data and information present on different sites.
- Extranet-based VPN is perfect for making connections with supplier networks for efficient trading and other similar purposes.
How Do Site-to-Site VPNs Work?
A site-to-site VPN makes use of 3 main ways to function:
- IPsec tunnels (Internet Protocol Security) are used to connect sites using routers, also called router-to-router VPN. Route-based IPsec tunnels allow network traffic to pass between networks, while policy-based IPsec tunnels decide what internet traffic can pass through and can communicate with other IP networks. IPsec tunnels are built using network routers and firewalls.
- DMVPN or Dynamic MultiPoint VPN allows various sites to connect via the DMVPN router by making use of a dynamic IP. Traffic easily travels between the hub and branch sites with a little added configuration.
- L3VPN or MPLS-based Layer 3 VPN enables global connectivity and reliable connection. It is used to route data packets through a network via satellites, fibers, or microwaves using any VPN protocol. Layer 3 indicates the OSI network model which uses multiple ways to communicate to create a network layer. The L3VPN or VPRNs may be created by companies or provided by communications service providers.
Remote Access VPN
Unlike site-to-site VPNs, a remote access VPN is a temporary connection. These encrypted channels allow a business network to connect to multiple user devices securely.
This type of VPN does not stay on and can be enabled by individual users when the need arises. They also do not have a permanent link to establish an encrypted connection and secure communication.
Companies/organizations make use of remote access VPNs to allow remote and secure access to company data and software applications present in one hub.
A major setback of using this type of VPN is that nowadays, company software is rarely hosted on private servers. This means that company applications are often SaaS solutions provided by third parties.
These are hosted on a platform from anywhere around the world. Global hosting servers have large amounts of data, so setting up a remote VPN may not be a very good idea. Data will travel from a user’s device to the main hub, then back to the data hub. This long traveling distance decreases network speed/performance and can cause several other problems along the way.
Therefore, a remote access VPN is best for those that use self-hosted software or confidential data hosted on a private company’s server. It is also a good idea to calculate the number of users that will be using the information on a network to ensure you have sufficient hardware to support secure connections.
Benefits Of Remote Access VPNs
- A remote access VPN is also known as a client-based VPN or client-to-server VPN.
- Employees/users are connected to a private network once they install the dedicated software on their systems and devices.
- Perfect for use by remote employees to prevent unauthorized access to the intranet.
- Cloud storage is quickly becoming an easier-to-use alternative to remote access VPNs.
How Do Remote Access VPNs Work?
Third-party software needs to be installed first and foremost to establish a connection to the VPN. In some cases, device settings may need to be adjusted for proper configuration. A VPN server must also be present at the network end.
It may ask for passwords and fingerprints or make use of security certificates for automatic authentication. Automatic connections are perfect for servers with multiple users.
Next, an encrypted VPN tunnel is established between the user and the server. Data is encrypted as it passes through the VPN tunnel using various protocols. SSL and IPsec are commonly used with remote access VPNs to enable users to access data and software on a corporate network while ensuring secure communication.
Personal VPNs connect users to a VPN server that acts as the center between connections, binding devices, and online services.
It is also often called consumer/commercial VPN as it helps make online surfing safer through encryption and geolocation spoofing.
Personal VPN services are different from remote access VPNs as they do not provide users access to a private network.
Benefits Of Personal VPNs
- The VPN client connects to the public Internet via a 3rd party VPN.
- Software must be installed onto the device to make use of a personal VPN.
- It allows users to access movies and stream TV shows unavailable in their region.
- It can be used to bypass surveillance and censorship protocols and even content blocked by firewalls.
- It hides web traffic and searches and can also prevent DDoS attacks.
- Blocks ISPs from gaining access to your information and increases internet speed.
How Do Personal VPNs Work?
Firstly, the software must be downloaded onto the user’s devices. Next, the user connects to a server provided by the VPN tool.
Local servers will provide faster speeds, while servers inside the country help unlock blocked content.
Once the connection is on, the user can browse the Internet like normal.
Mobile VPN services provide remote access to a local network, given the user stays in one spot. Access is discontinued once the IP tunnel is closed or the user disconnects.
Mobile VPNs are better than remote VPNs as they help establish stable connections. A mobile VPN stays on even if the user switches mobile networks, changes WiFi, loses internet connectivity, or turns their device off.
Benefits Of Mobile VPNs
- Mobile VPNs can establish connections across various devices without necessarily requiring mobile phones or cellular networks.
- Perfect for those that use mobiles as part of their job.
- It helps connect those to a private network that has poor connections otherwise.
How Do Mobile VPNs Work?
Users download the software and connect to the virtual private network to establish a secure channel. Authentication is made by asking for biometrics, smart card pins, passwords, physical tokens, etc.
The user is then connected to the server via a logical IP address. This address is independent of the internet connection. The connection does not break unless switched off manually.
What Are Some Commonly Used VPN Protocols?
There are several different protocols used by modern VPN services to aid this. Different methods show different results and also affect processing speed and data security. Let us look at the most commonly used VPN protocols below:
Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol, or L2TP, establishes a private tunnel between 2 L2TP points. Once a connection is made, an extra tunneling protocol is enabled, known as the IPsec. This other VPN tunnel is used to encrypt data that is being transferred.
The Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol has a very interwoven structure which heightens security and protects data properly. L2TP is often used for site-to-site VPN connections that demand advanced security.
Internet Protocol Security or IPsec is a tunneling protocol that works on the idea of forcing session authentication. It also makes sure the data packets being transferred are encrypted.
Double encryption is performed by encrypting already encrypted messages and data again. This VPN protocol is often combined with other types of VPN protocols to increase security. Site-to-site VPNs often make use of IPsec due to their high compatibility.
Point–to–Point Tunneling Protocol, or PPTP, is used to create tunnels via a PPTP cipher. These ciphers were created in the 1990s when computer power was not as advanced.
However, these ciphers can be easily cracked by using force to decrypt data being exchanged. Therefore, PPTP is a VPN security protocol that is rarely used nowadays as it can provide a threat to security.
As the name suggests, OpenVPN is an open-source protocol used with the TLS/SSL frameworks. Cryptographic algorithms are used to enhance security, so the encrypted tunnel is even more secure than the ones other types of VPN protocols available.
These protocols, however, may not be very compatible. Installation and setup of numerous devices to create router-to-router communication networks to establish VPN connections can get quite tricky. Even performance may vary from one connection to another.
OpenVPN also comes in 2 versions. These are the UDP (User Datagram Protocol) and TCP (Transmission Control Protocol). UDP is a lot more agile than TCP, but TCP is better at ensuring security.
Overall, this protocol offers most of the features required by companies and is a great choice for those with both a remote-access VPN connection and a site-to-site VPN.
SSL And TLS Protocol
TLS, or Transport Layer Security, and SSL, or Secure Socket Layer, are two different protocols that make use of a similar standard. They both are used to encrypt HTTPS pages.
This way, a web browser only allows access to limited users and allows them to access applications they have permission for. The entire network is kept safe as web browsers these days are already equipped with SSL And TLS Protocols.
This means that no additional software needs to be downloaded or installed, making this method perfect for remote access VPNs.
Wireguard is the latest VPN protocol. The architecture of this protocol is a lot less complex but more advanced and efficient than OpenVPN and IPsec.
Wireguard makes use of technologically advanced code to enable excellent performance with the least margin of error. This protocol is still in its early adoption stages, but it can still be found being used with site-to-site connections.
Secure Shell or SSH establishes a secure channel to allow port forwarding to remote devices. It makes use of any encrypted connection to allow employees to access their office laptop/PC from their home.
Even though SSH allows increased flexibility, the connections need to be monitored closely to prevent data breaches from direct entry points. This is the main reason why companies often prefer this protocol for remote access setups only.
Knowing about the different types of VPNs and protocols used to establish connections can help you pick the best VPN and related methods for your own business. Data security and cyberattacks are becoming increasingly common so investing in tools that can help protect sensitive and confidential data is your best bet to keep privacy intact.