Virtual private networks or “VPNs” have become increasingly common as many companies have transitioned to remote or hybrid workforces. While VPNs are widely used, the ins and outs of how they work can be confusing. Here is a breakdown of VPNs, how they work, and a few of the pros and cons of using them for your business.
What is a VPN
A virtual private network, or “VPN,” works kind of like a secret tunnel under an expressway. It allows users to surf the web or send files back and forth on a private connection, even if they’re connected to a public Wi-Fi network.
How VPNs Work
Every device can be identified using an IP address, a string of unique characters that identifies each computer or phone while using the internet. When a user connects to a VPN and surfs the internet, that IP address is hidden.
A VPN also encrypts data when sharing files and turns it into gibberish code, making it incredibly difficult for hackers to steal sensitive information in transit.
Using a VPN for Businesses
When it comes to using a VPN for your business, several factors should be considered first. Here is a breakdown of some of the pros and cons of implementing a VPN into your business’s IT stack.
Secure Data Encryption
VPNs provide secure data encryption by hiding IP addresses, meaning a device’s identity and activity are hidden when browsing online. A VPN also encrypts data by turning the information into codes that look like gibberish, making it nearly impossible for hackers to extract anything of value.
Secure Data Transfer
A VPN allows remote work teams to share files and securely collaborate from anywhere. VPNs can also provide a secure gateway to a company network, allowing remote team members to access all company files from anywhere.
Using a VPN to work often requires a lot of bandwidth, especially with a remote work team. The VPN sucks internet speed, which means a company will need to have both faster internet at the connection point to begin with, and the users will have to have faster internet to accommodate the additional bandwidth that is needed.
Misconception of Cybersecurity
While VPNs hide a user’s IP address, a user’s online identity is not entirely anonymous. Activity can still be tracked using website trackers like cookies and account logins on the device.
In addition, a VPN does not protect a device from hacking attacks. Computers using VPNs can still fall victim to malware attacks or phishing attempts.
Getting Started with a VPN
While no IT system will be completely secure, VPNs can provide an additional element of data protection for a business. VPNs can benefit some companies if the pros outweigh the cons.
About Vladimir Zrajevsky
Vladimir Zrajevsky has nearly 20 years of experience in computer and information sciences. He is the president of Fatech IT Advisors
, a multiservice IT solutions and professional service provider based in Herndon, VA.