VPN stands for Virtual Private Network and can be used for a few different reasons. For businesses, VPN allows people to access the company networks remotely, meaning they can work from home or anywhere that they can get internet access. Most businesses will ensure a certain level of security for their networks and VPN is the securest way of enabling remote access.

Providing remote access is becoming more important to businesses as they look to use home working as part of their business strategy. Some businesses employ people to work predominantly from home, allowing them to make savings in terms of premises and the costs associated with having all employees based on site. It is also a way of attracting the best employees, regardless of distance. In fact, many people can commute from large distances to be on site for crucial face-to-face meetings and work from home the remainder of the time. So if the best candidates for a job are all in London and the company’s headquarters are in Manchester, this can be worked around thanks to VPN without the need for relocation.

Working from home is also great for employee engagement, being given that added flexibility to work around childcare, avoid time consuming travel, or so they don’t have to take time off if they are expecting a delivery etc. So VPN plays a very important role, particularly for large, corporate businesses. As well as allowing remote access, it constricts the usage of an intranet, so only employees can access the company’s intranet site. For businesses that have multiple sites, it is often required for them to be able to share networks, again this is where VPN comes in handy.

So what does VPN actually do from a technical perspective?

Without using too much jargon, in simple terms, a VPN is referred to as a ‘tunnel’ which connects between a computer and the server of the VPN service. You may also see it referred to as client to server connection and authentication takes place at both sides of the connection.

The connection process is commonly known as a point-to-point connection and it crucially encrypts data to ensure high levels of security. With the increasing threat of cyber attacks, VPN is even more important in keeping the company’s data secure.

Where there multiple offices/sites need to be connected, a VPN connection is set up over the internet to provide what is called a Wide Area Network (WAN).

Getting set up for VPN is normally facilitated by a company’s IT department by installing the relevant software onto a PC or laptop. Businesses without an IT department can use a VPN provider to set them up.

Other ways VPN is used

Aside from the vital part it plays in business operations, VPN is also used when people want to stop people from seeing their internet activity. You can download a variety of applications to enable this. The reasons people want to do this are varied but essentially it is to keep their data private.

To summarise, Virtual Private Networks provide different purposes for different user types. For businesses, it is an essential enabler of modern day working. It also can significantly reduce costs through a number of ways. The cost of running premises as we mentioned earlier is one potential cost saving but there are many more.

Using VPN via the internet to communicate globally saves on communication costs and also saves resource when it comes to sharing data. For example, sending encrypted emails to share files takes up time at both ends, whereas being able to simply log onto a PC, access the same network and find the file is a much quicker and less costly process. There really are many benefits from having a VPN set up.

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