As a person responsible for secure remote networking in your company, you need to know which type of VPN to choose to keep your data and employees safe. In this article, we will unpack the different types of VPNs and which one you should use in your organization.
A cyberattack can happen to anyone. But small businesses are especially vulnerable, with over 46% of cyber breaches aimed at businesses with less than 1,000 employees.
Incredibly, 61% of SMBs in the U.S. were targeted by a cyberattack in 2021. If your business falls victim to a cyberattack, you will face:
❌ Downtime and lost productivity that can affect your revenue and profits.
❌ Damaged systems that could take months to fix.
❌ Disrupted operations while your systems are compromised.
❌ Having your private business data made public.
❌ Losing customers as a consequence of reputation damage if sensitive information gets leaked.
❌ Paying ransom fees to attackers to get your data back.
Additionally, if your business functions remotely in any way, you become an even bigger target for hackers.
So, what can you do to protect your business and remote employees? You can use a virtual private network (VPN) to safeguard your entire network and stop a potential cyberthreat in its tracks.
- Local area network (LAN): A LAN is a network of computers that are limited to a certain area, like an office building.
- Encryption: The process of scrambling data as it is transferred over a network so that the public cannot see it.
- Topologies: How the various elements of a network are arranged.
What Is a Virtual Private Network?
Traditionally, on-site employees would be able to directly access your business systems over a secure and private LAN connection when they work at your offices.
However, now that businesses are moving online and remote work is increasing, you need a way to secure remote access to your business.
A VPN is a technology that creates a private encrypted secure tunnel between your employees’ devices and your corporate network. It allows your employees to connect to your business as if they were connected to the network physically.
The kinds of devices and resources that fall within your corporate network include:
➡️ Network Devices (like NAS, printers, NVR…)
➡️ Cloud networks
A VPN allows your employees to connect to your network securely, and transmit and receive data that remains private and invisible to the outside world.
If your employees work outside of your office, they are likely using unsecured public networks (Wi-Fi) to remotely access files, data, and systems over the Internet. A VPN prevents anyone from hacking into your business network over these unsecured connections.
How does a VPN connection work?
The encrypted VPN tunnel forms a secure connection between a VPN client and a VPN gateway—explained below—that shields your communication from prying eyes.
- A client is VPN technology that is installed on a user’s device, like a laptop or desktop computer.
- A gateway can be a network device like a router or firewall, or a dedicated server that interconnects all the users and systems, such as:
➡️ Hardware server in private or 3rd party data center
➡️ Hardware/Virtual server (on-site or hosted)
➡️ Virtual server that resides in public cloud
At GoodAccess, we use virtual private gateways that are distributed all over the world so the customer only picks the closest gateway and doesn't have to build any infrastructure, spend time with configuration, maintenance, user management or anything, to use a VPN.
Why your business needs a VPN
✅ Secure remote access. Your employees can remotely access your business network from any location. If you have teams working from home, they can safely access your systems, data, and software.
✅ Protection from hacking. A VPN scrambles your data transfer by encrypting it. This makes intercepting a data packet nearly impossible. It provides secure and private communication over networks.
✅ Secure communication on public networks. Public Wi-Fi networks like those found at a hotel, airport, or café leave your business vulnerable to cyberattacks. A VPN encrypts all your data when your employees use public Wi-Fi.
✅ Your IP address will be hidden. Your IP address can be easily used to trace your location—it connects your employee’s online behavior back to your business.
✅ Ensure compliance. You can see who is connected to your business network, when, and from where. This allows you to monitor your network activity—which, for example, is essential for GDPR compliance.
What types of VPNs are there?
From the user perspective, VPNs usually fall into two usage categories:
💼 Business VPNs.
📱 Personal VPNs.
Although they are similar in what they do—creating a secure private VPN tunnel between a device and a server—it is their respective purposes that make them so different from each other.
Personal VPNs are typically used for:
📱 Protecting your identity online, especially when using a public or shared Wi-Fi.
📱 Masking your geographical location so you can bypass regional restrictions and access websites with location restrictions, such as streaming services. It’s typically used for watching your favorite American Netflix show from the beach in Spain 🏖️
📱 Visiting online shopping websites as some products are cheaper in certain locations.
📱 Accessing blocked websites in countries where the Internet is censored.
Can I Use a Personal VPN for My Business?
The VPN services that are typically available for personal use do not offer any additional management, configuration and security features, such as managing who has access to your business networks.
A business VPN goes beyond a personal VPN with some of these additional features:
- Private network for your employees
- User management and access control
- Your applications are undetectable to unauthorized users.
- Detecting insider and external cyberthreats.
This is why personal VPNs are not well-suited to companies—especially remote companies—that want to protect themselves from cyberattacks.
Types of Virtual Private Networks
You now know that there are two main uses for VPNs. But there are also different types of VPN based on their topologies. Topologies refer to how the VPN’s technology is arranged.
➡️ A remote access VPN: Primarily used in companies where employees need to access data, LANs, and applications that are hosted locally.
➡️ A site-to-site VPN: Primarily used in companies with geographically distant offices or branches that need to connect to one another. It interconnects these sites and allows for borderless communication and sharing.
➡️ A cloud VPN: Combines the benefits of both remote access VPNs and site-to-site VPNs, using a dedicated VPN service delivered from the cloud rather than using hardware or infrastructure. This eliminates the need to follow complicated setup and maintenance procedures.
All three types of VPNs do the same thing. They provide a secure encrypted connection between the client—installed on a device such as a laptop—and a resource/target.
However, it is how businesses use them that makes them different.
There are three ways VPNs can be delivered, deployed, or implemented within your business:
➡️ Hardware VPN: The functionality of this VPN is delivered by a device, router, or firewall specifically configured for this purpose. You would need to spend time and money building infrastructure for your VPN.
➡️ Software VPN: A VPN solution run from a private datacenter that is usually easier to manage, is more user-friendly. It is necessary to build a VPN infrastructure.
➡️ Cloud VPN: A dedicated VPN service delivered from the cloud, making it more stable as it is virtual. Also, it does not need any hardware and can be set up and configured in minutes.
Which Type of VPN Is Best for My Business?
The type of VPN you choose will depend on your primary concerns, your budget, and the requirements that are most important to you.
- If your primary concern is allowing your employees to connect to your business network from a remote location, a remote access VPN might be a good choice for your business.
- If you need to connect geographically distant offices and remote branches to one another smoothly, a site-to-site VPN is a good idea.
- If you want the benefits of both and you are looking for a highly secure VPN connection at a low cost, a cloud business VPN is the best solution.
The Benefits of Using a Cloud Business VPN
A cloud VPN takes the best parts of a remote access VPN and a site-to-site VPN and creates a highly secure VPN connection for your business.
Some of the main reasons why you should choose a cloud business VPN include:
✅ Reliability: A could VPN is more reliable and stable as it is virtual.
✅ High speed: By using a cloud VPN, you are not limited by the connection speed provided by the datacenter where your hardware infrastructure resides.
✅ Scalability: This type of VPN is highly scalable and can easily grow with your business. Simply add users, apps, and other resources to your private network without any complicated configuration.
✅ Secure communication: A Cloud VPN is more secure than a VPN server at your premises, as it has better ability to adopt new features and includes the latest security fixes.
✅ Affordability: This type of VPN is more cost-effective than hardware alternatives.
Wrapping Up Types of VPNs
If you want to protect your business against harmful and costly cyberattacks, VPN technology is a must.
A VPN creates an encrypted tunnel that makes the data transfer between the client and the gateway invisible. This is arguably one of the most effective ways to secure your business.
A cloud VPN that has been specifically designed for businesses, like GoodAccess, creates a secure connection between your remote employees and your business systems.
It also adds an extra security layer to your business by putting you in control of who accesses your network, allowing you to block network-based attacks.
GoodAccess is a hardware-free VPN server that is easy to use, ensures privacy, and is cost-efficient. Create a free account and experience a full-feature trial of GoodAccess, where you will soon learn that—of all the different types of VPNs—a cloud business VPN is best.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are VPN protocols?
A VPN protocol is a set of rules determining how data will be encrypted (and decrypted) and sent over a private network.
Different VPN protocols are used for different reasons. For example, the SSL and TLS protocols are used for data integrity, checking encryption measures, and can bypass firewalls.
If you are looking for a reliable VPN security protocol, the most current options are OpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuard, and Internet protocol security (IPSec protocol).
What is tunneling mode?
Tunneling mode encrypts the data and the IP address of the sender while it is being transmitted through the secure tunnel that a VPN creates.
What is a data packet?
When data is transmitted from one device to another, it is sent as a series of separate units, each with a header and a footer that contain information like where the packet is going, via which route, or how large it is.
When your data transfer is packed, an extra layer of protection is applied to the data while it passes through an encrypted tunnel.
How does a remote access VPN work?
Remote access VPNs operate similarly to other types of VPNs. It creates a large number of parallel encrypted tunnels between a business network and user devices.
This way, the data that is being transferred is completely private, even if the user’s device is connecting from a remote location or an unsecured Wi-Fi network.