If your employees often travel for business, work from home, or use their own personal devices for work, it is important to provide them with a secure, reliable way to connect to your company’s computer systems. One way to do this is to use a remote-access virtual private network (VPN). Here is what you need to know about this type of VPN if you are considering taking advantage of this technology.

The Basics

Companies use remote-access VPNs to establish secure connections between their networks and the devices used by offsite employees. Once connected, the employees are able to access the resources on the network, just as if their devices were physically plugged into it.

A remote-access VPN works by creating a virtual tunnel between an offsite employee’s device and the company’s network. This tunnel goes through the Internet or another type of public network, such as a public Wi-Fi network. The tunnel and the data traveling through it are protected by encryption and security protocols, which keeps the data private and secure.

Companies can build and maintain their own remote-access VPNs. The two main components in this type of VPN are a network access server and VPN client software. The client software needs to be installed on the devices that employees will use to connect to the server when they are out of the office. This might include company-issued mobile devices and employees’ personal devices (e.g., smartphones, home computers). As VPN usage grows, companies can add equipment that is designed to optimize VPN services, such as VPN concentrators.

Businesses that do not want to bother with setting up their own remote-access VPNs can use a VPN service provider. In this case, they do not need a network access server, but they will still need to make sure that the VPN client software is installed on the devices employees will be using to connect to the VPN.

The Advantages

Using a remote-access VPN offers several advantages for businesses. The most important benefit is data security. When offsite employees send data through a VPN, it is encrypted, so if hackers happen to capture the data, they won’t be able to use it. This is particularly important if employees access their companies’ computer systems using public Wi-Fi networks because traffic on them is typically not encrypted.

Another advantage is that remote access VPNs provide companies with an affordable way to secure data sent by offsite employees. The initial investment is minimal and the VPN solution can be easily scaled as a company grows, especially if a VPN service provider is used.

Because remote-access VPNs are affordable (even for small businesses) and secure, companies can feel more comfortable with letting employees work from home, the airport, or anywhere else. Letting employees work where and when they want to can lead to a happier, more productive workforce.

The Disadvantages

Like any tool, remote-access VPNs have some disadvantages. They can slow down a device’s web browsing speed. More important, setting up an in-house VPN solution can be challenging if a business is unfamiliar with the technology.

Using a VPN service provider will simplify the setup process. However, businesses need to be wary when choosing one. There are fake VPN service providers (i.e., fake services offered by hackers) as well as providers with questionable practices (i.e., legit companies that sell customers’ data). So, when selecting a VPN service provider, it is important to do research and carefully evaluate candidates, especially those that offer free VPN services.

Don’t Be Intimidated

A remote-access VPN can be valuable asset for companies with employees who often work offsite, but setting one up can be intimidating. If you think your company can benefit from one, we can help you select and implement the best solution for your business.