With more and more employees working remotely, either from home or on the go, enterprises need a way to secure their communications with the corporate network. One solution is a virtual private network (VPN), which enables employees to securely send data between computers across a shared or public network.
VPNs were developed to solve two challenges: the high cost of leased lines for branch offices, and the growing need to enable remote workers to access the corporate network securely.
While VPNs provide security by encrypting data and sending it through a “tunnel,” there are limitations to that security. Before examining those limitations, let’s take a look at how VPNs work.
How does a VPN work?
A VPN involves the transfer of encrypted data wrapped with a header containing routing information. This process enables the data to travel securely over a shared or public network to reach its endpoint.
Data packets passed over the public network in this way are unreadable without the decryption keys, thus ensuring that data is not disclosed or changed during transmission.
From the user’s perspective, the VPN connection is a point-to-point connection between the user’s computer and a corporate server. The nature of the public network is irrelevant to the user because it appears as if the data is being sent over a dedicated private link.
As workers become more mobile, VPN connections allow users working at home or on the road to connect in a secure fashion to a remote corporate server using the routing infrastructure provided by a public network, such as the Internet.