What Is a VPN and Why You Should Be Using One


As security awareness is growing in today's computer and online world, users are being told now, that they should be using a VPN whenever they connect to the internet. Some users do not understand what this means, or why it's essential. This article will explain what a VPN is and why you should be using one.


A VPN is a “Virtual Private Network”.

It is nothing more than two boxes that encrypt network/internet traffic between them, so that anyone attempting to capture or view the traffic between the two boxes sees nothing but gibberish. You can have a VPN between a PC, tablet, or smart phone and a firewall. You can also have a VPN between two firewalls, and VPN’s between any number of devices (a network of VPNs).

A VPN is not just for data security, but it allows for employees and businesses to connect easier.

For example, if an employee wanted to work from home, they could run a VPN program, and securely connect to their office from a mobile device as if they were plugged in physically. They can now securely screen share or remote into their work computer, print, and access other network resources like shared network drives all as if they were actually there.

"....it allows for employees and businesses to connect easier"

There are products out there like TeamViewer or LogMeIn that allow a user to screen share or remote into their computer, but these programs circumvent firewalls (so this traffic could be captured) and they only allow for a screen share to the destination computer. These programs do not “plug you in” to your office like a VPN would.

Looking for the best firewall or VPN setup that meets your business needs?

Contact NE-INC for a free evaluation.

A VPN can be “temporary,”

It can be established when someone runs a VPN program on their computer or tablet, and that program asks for a username and password, used to authenticate them. This VPN is only up between that mobile device and the firewall, as long as the VPN program is running. If the program is exited or the device is rebooted, the VPN connection is lost. This might be the type of VPN that would be used by a doctor, connecting to a hospital for a few hours per night, using a laptop.


In many cases, the “corporate office” of a company will spend significantly, in an effort to provide multiple different layers of firewall protection, to protect email, web pages, downloaded files, etc. from hackers. If they require that their employees use VPN’s to connect back to this “corporate office”, then their internet traffic can be “scrubbed clean”, by the central firewall.

A VPN can be “permanent”

It can be setup between two firewalls, and stays connected 24/7. If the Internet connection ever momentarily drops, the boxes re-establish the connection, automatically. Some boxes may even have a multi-WAN feature where if one Internet provider’s connection drops, the box will jump to a fail-over from a second Internet provider. This “permanent” VPN might be used between a warehouse, and several retail stores for an industrial supply company so that the all separate buildings were always connected to each other.

"Software VPN’s are often free, if the user is connecting to a larger firewall box."


So, what about the cost? Software VPN’s are often free, if the user is connecting to a larger firewall box. A powerful, small business firewall box cam run from about $450 to about $3000, and larger enterprise firewalls can go north of that. So, as an example, a small company with 12 or so employees, might want to purchase a $1500 firewall, and then setup 3 or 4 users so they can use a free VPN client to use when they are logged in. They might also like to spend $700 on another a “branch office VPN”, that would connect another office to the headquarters, full time.


Firewalls are becoming increasingly more important for small businesses. Hackers today seem to go after the easier targets, the smaller businesses that let their data security go to the wayside. Network Engineering would be glad to provide you with a free, one hour consultation, to discuss your privacy and data security concerns, and to provide you with a more thorough quotation. Protect your business’s sensitive data today.

Looking for the best firewall or VPN setup that meets your business needs?

Contact NE-INC for a free evaluation.

#VPN #Firewalls #security

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