Using Virtual Private Networks or VPNs is getting more common each and every day and it is becoming the first measure that come to mind when someone thinks about cybersecurity. There so, choosing which one to use and understanding how they work is playing an important role. Here are the two key VPN technologies and how they work, but first let’s see how a VPN service work.
Table of Contents
What is Virtual Private Network (VPN)
As you can understand from its name, VPN services provide their users with private virtual networks to allow them to encrypt their online activity by hiding their Internet Protocol addresses
━ IP address. It creates a private tunnel between you and a specially configured remote server provided by a VPN host and lets you surf online safe and secure.
When you use VPN data you send or receive and sites you visit online can not be trackable by your Internet Service Provider ━ ISP and other third parties. So the private information you transmit through your online activity like login credentials, bank account details, etc. is hidden by the VPN host you chose.
There are different types of VPN technologies and they have different functions that suit best for various functions.
Remote Access VPN
Remote Access VPN establishes a connection between an individual user and a private network. It allows employees to connect to a remote business LAN or cloud as if they are in the office. Remote workers join the company network using client software installed on the host (smartphone, laptop, desktop, etc.).
To allow only authorized users Remote Access VPN uses either a VPN gateway or Network Access Server. Network Acces Server ━ NAS is a tool remote users utilize when they want to use a remote access VPN.
On the other hand, a VPN gateway that verifies your identity as a remote user and establishes a secure “virtual” tunnel between the LAN and the gateway, communicates with the client software installed on the remote user’s device. Any data you send or receive is encrypted by your remote access VPN and decrypted by the VPN gateway.
However, the use case of remote access VPN is not only work-related but also for personal use. To secure and anonymize their online activity and traffic, people today employ remote-access VPNs provided by a variety of VPN services. To understand the differences between site to site vs remote access VPN we will also take a look at Site to Site VPN.
Site to Site VPN
Site-to-site VPNs protect the connection between two or more LANs in distinct physical locations, whereas remote-access VPNs secure the connection between individual devices and a remote LAN. Site-to-site VPNs allow your company’s network to extend across several offices by using the public internet.
There are two types of Site to Site VPNs;
Intranet-based Site to Site:
This service provides companies to combine the LANs of various office locations into one Wide Area Network ━ WAN. This combination allows all devices to access the connection as if they are in the same physical location.
If each branch produces its own resources or contains unique procedures that the entire company would benefit from having access to, an intranet-based site-to-site VPN may be very useful.
Extranet-based Site to Site:
This service, on the other hand, allows companies to share the information they choose while keeping others private. Companies generally choose to use the extranet-based site-to-site VPNs when they work with other companies to share certain information and keep others private.
With this service, each company connects to the VPN and selects what they wish to share with the other companies while protecting their sensitive information.
Differences between Remote Access VPN and Site to Site VPN
Remote Access VPN
- Each user needs to initiate to form a VPN tunnel.
- Supports IPsec and SSL technologies.
- Multiple users’ traffic is not permitted to transit across each VPN tunnel.
- Every user may require their own VPN client (Client VPN) or may not (Clientless).
- Connects each remote user to private networks
Site to Site VPN
- Each user does not need to initiate to form a VPN tunnel.
- Supports only IPsec technology
- Multiple users’ traffic is allowed to transit across each VPN tunnel.
- Does not need setup on each client
- Builds an encrypted tunnel from one customer network to the customer’s remote site
Which one is right for you?
To decide which one is right for you, you should consider the size of your company, the need for resource sharing, the total number of locations, and your branches’ geographical locations.
Site-to-site VPN can be the option to consider if your company has multiple locations and your employees at each location need access to the main office’s LAN. However, if remote workers of your company do not require dedicated access to the main office’s LAN, remote access VPN may be the better option to consider.