A VPN can enhance your organisation’s security. If you have an on-site server, VPN technology can allow your organisation’s members to have secure access to that server and its contents even when they’re working remotely. Last week we went through the basics of what a VPN is and does; this week, we’ll be looking at two types of business VPN – server-based and router-based.
The most common type of server VPN we see is Windows Server VPN. This can be used for both end-users and site-to-site data. End-user is the typical situation you might imagine – a user connecting into the organisation’s server from an external location, so they can access necessary data, such as an employee needing to download a file from a shared file store so they can refer to it, or someone connecting to their work server to retrieve their emails. Site-to-site is a situation where two (or more) servers need to share data between different physical locations – for example, if your organisation has two or more offices. In this situation, a secure VPN tunnel between servers is the safest way to transfer data.
Of course, being a Windows Server, these kinds of server VPNs will work best with other servers running Windows Server, and clients using Windows – although of course it’s still possible to connect using mobile devices and other operating systems with a small set-up procedure.
Because it’s based directly on the server, this type of VPN is very well integrated with Active Directory and other similar Microsoft services.
As the name suggests, router VPNs are handled by the organisation’s router. DrayTek and WatchGuard are two of the most popular options, and are mainly used for users connecting in to a location from an external source rather than site-to-site.
Once connected, the user can access the resources they need as if they were a client on their internal network.
The bonus to this type of connection is that the server does not need to handle or manage the VPN itself, and that it’s generally very easy to set up for end-users – DrayTek and WatchGuard both offer their own apps for a variety of operating systems, enabling users to download and set up their VPN connection easily.
Business Router VPNs are different to typical consumer router VPNs in that they handle an incoming connection rather than connecting to an external VPN server, because the router itself is essentially the VPN server – it’s important not to confuse the two, because the features they offer are very different. Business-class routers such as those offered by DrayTek and WatchGuard are also replete with additional security features to help protect your sensitive information.
Next week we’ll take a look at another type VPN service; one that more people will be familiar with – consumer VPNs.