Benefits and Reasons To Use a VPNWhile reviewing every detail about VPNs is beyond the scope of this blog, let’s talk about a few common reasons for utilizing it:
- Creating some privacy when transmitting data between distinct locations – Every time you connect to the Internet, whether you are going to Google, watching Netflix, or sending an email, you are transmitting data over the public Internet. Just like when you drive your car from one place to another, you are almost always using public roads and highways to go from point A to B. A VPN “tints the windows,” so to speak, so that when your data goes on those public highways, a bad guy can’t necessarily see what the traffic is. Maybe they see that traffic exists, but it is typically encrypted to be unreadable.
- Working around some filters – Sometimes, a VPN can be used to route traffic in a different way and make a service think I’m connecting from somewhere geographically different to my actual location.
- Control over remote connections – If a VPN is required to create a remote connection between the client and the service like your servers or data located in a central location, then an administrator can also limit connections from unauthorized third parties such as former employees. By cutting off that VPN connection, you don’t have to worry that their computer or mobile device is accessing data to which they are no longer authorized to have access.
What a VPN WON’T do for you
- VPN solutions don’t protect against an account being broken into – Between your home life and work life, you are probably using a variety of technology solutions such as Microsoft Office 365 for email, maybe a web-based CRM, an accounting application, or even a tax software where you keep your income tax information for filing. A VPN could encrypt data between two points, but if your authentication information is insufficiently secure, a hacker could get in and start snooping around for data or commit fraud.
- A VPN won’t do anything to protect your team from phishing attacks – Phishing is on the rise because it’s cheap and effective. It also circumvents many common security tools and is a direct attack on personal vulnerabilities, as opposed to technical vulnerabilities. When you volunteer information after clicking a bad link or allow malware to be installed by being tricked into it, a VPN won’t do you much good.
- A VPN is unlikely to improve speed or performance – While a good VPN solution will likely not hurt your connectivity, a bad one could make things worse. Some VPN solution providers make claims about performance improvements that are dubious at best.
- A VPN will do nothing to address insider threats – When we extend a corporate network by using VPNs to give users access to technology assets, we are giving them the keys to the castle, so to speak. Once someone takes data back to their home PC over their VPN connection, for example, you don’t necessarily know what they are going to do with it. If they took that data and put it on another unauthorized device or share it with people that they aren’t supposed to, your VPN will be of no help.
- A VPN won’t address any vulnerabilities on the devices themselves – Creating a series of VPN tunnels could create a strong private network where you could feel confident that data transmission is private and controlled. However, if the servers, desktops/laptops, and other devices have flaws that haven’t been addressed, or if those devices are in a non-supportable state, you could experience a data breach through those vulnerabilities regardless of the VPN. In fact, you could make the case that VPNs aren’t really addressing the right risks for certain organizations with aging technology infrastructures.
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