A virtual private network, or VPN, can have many uses for small businesses. However, before we get too deep into how it can benefit your business, it’s important to understand what it is and how it works.
First, let’s think of your internet traffic as individual hand-written letters. When you send a letter, you place it in an envelope and send it through the mail to a designated address. Under most conditions your hand-written letter gets delivered to its intended destination.
Now, what if we were sending something important in that hand-written letter? Something that we didn’t want anyone else to see. Well, the normal system of writing a letter, placing it in an envelope and sending it through the mail would not guarantee security. In other words, anyone would have the opportunity to intercept your envelope, open it, and examine the contents of your letter. And these are contents, remember, that you didn’t want anyone to see.
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So, how can you protect your letter? What if, instead of using an envelope, we placed the letter in a securely locked box with a combination that only the receiver would be able to open?
That locked box is similar to a VPN. With a VPN, you still send messages from one point to another. But a VPN makes it difficult, if not impossible, for anyone other than the intended recipient to open it.
Your message would still be sent over the public Internet. However, the contents of your message would be encrypted. What’s more, the encryption used for VPN tunnels is much stronger than a simple combination on a locked box for regular mail.
If you’d like to know more about how they work, take a look at this site that explains more about what a VPN is.
In order to keep confidential business matters private, you need a way of assuring that the only people who see your messages are the ones who are supposed to see them. Just think about what could happen to your business if someone who shouldn’t have privileged information about your company were able to obtain it. A VPN keeps your confidential information safe.
If a business connects to a VPN provider, they have some anonymity when they’re surfing the web.
When you connect to a VPN provider, you build a tunnel between yourself and the provider. The provider then connects you to the general Internet. In our example, this would be like sending a handwritten note in a locked box to a trusted friend who would then deliver the note. This way, the original sender could remain anonymous.
Many businesses offer their employees the ability to work from home. If a small business provides a VPN connection into the office for their work-at-home employees, the employees can use their home computers as though they were on the office network.
When you use a site-to-site VPN between remote offices, it’s like using an encrypted tunnel across the Internet. All of your offices can work, in other words, as if they were on the same network. The best part of this setup is that it is completely transparent to the end user. The routers in each office are the end points of the VPN tunnel.
An open WiFi can expose your information to theft. This is especially true when your employees use WiFi connections that do not provide encryption. However, a VPN tunnel encrypts employees’ connections, even when they’re connected to open WiFi. Your data will remain confidential.
Given all these advantages, look into the pros and cons of using a VPN for yourself, and decide if using one is right for your business.