VPNs & Security: How VPNs Can Protect You Against Hackers

Small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) need all the help they can get in securing their information resources against hackers and other bad actors. One of the technologies available for protecting network connections has been around for some time but remains highly effective: Virtual Private Networks (VPNs).

A VPN extends a private network across a public network, allowing users to send and receive data over shared or public networks as if their devices are directly connected to a private network. Data transmitted via a VPN is encrypted.

The technology was first developed to enable remote users, such as employees working at branch offices or at home, to gain secure access corporate systems and applications. To make sure a connection is secure, a private link is established using an encrypted, layered tunneling protocol. Users employ authentication methods such as passwords or certificates to gain access to the VPN.

Companies can create VPNs by establishing virtual point-to-point connections by using dedicated circuits or the tunneling protocols over existing networks.

Site-to-site VPNs allow users in geographically disparate offices to share the same virtual network. Businesses can also use VPNs to interconnect two similar networks over a dissimilar intermediate network.

VPNs can protect against hacker intrusions. For example, when a user is accessing the Internet, a VPN redirects traffic through a specially configured remote server so that it conceals the user’s IP address and encrypts all the data sent and received. This means that even if a hacker were able to gain access, the data would be essentially unreadable.

Cyberattacks drive increased business adoption of VPNS

Demand for the technology continues to rise. A September 2019 report by ResearchAndMarkets predicts that the global VPN market will rise at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15% between 2019 and 2024.

Companies across various industries are adopting the technology, the report said, and growth of the market is being fueled in part by the significant rise in the number of cyberattacks, as well as a surge in demand for cloud-based security tools. Also contributing to the increase in demand is the growth of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs and their inherent security risks.

How to setup a VPN for your business

To set up a VPN, a company will first need to select a VPN provider that is able to meet its specific requirements. The VPN will need to be integrated with the company’s existing networks. This integration can be extensive, depending on how many people will be using the VPN, how many servers are needed to provide access to it, the types of traffic and data volumes the network must support, and other factors.

Businesses can opt to use a managed cloud-based VPN service; otherwise they will need to put together a team to help deploy, manage, and maintain the VPN. It might be necessary to dedicate someone full time to managing and updating the VPN.

It’s important to keep in mind that while VPNs provide an effective way to protect connections between various company locations, they are not flawless and do not deliver all that companies need in terms of security and reliability.

As a best practice, businesses should deploy a variety of technologies that provide security and flexibility in protecting their environment from intrusion, along with a cloud-based backup and recovery systems to ensure the protection of valuable data resources should an intrusion occur.

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