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Remote Access VPN

What is a Remote Access VPN?

A remote access virtual private network (VPN) enables users to connect to a private network remotely using a VPN. Employees who need to access their company's network from off-site locations or people who want to securely connect to a private network from a public area frequently use this kind of VPN.

Different types of remote access VPNs exist, each using its own protocols to encrypt and tunnel data sent over the internet. This prevents unauthorized users from connecting to private networks. Once connected, users have full access to all of your network's resources, just as if they are connected on-premises.

How Do Remote Access VPNs Work?

How does a VPN work? Remote access VPNs work by encrypting data sent between an external user and your organization's internal network. Regardless of the user's location, remote access VPNs build private tunnels between a company's network and a remote user. Due to their encryption capabilities, remote access VPNs are considered the industry standard for remote security. Users can safely access and use company applications and resources as they would in the office.

How remote access vpn works

Remote Access VPN vs Site-to-site VPN

Although a site-to-site VPN and a remote access VPN both have similar advantages, they are used differently.

Site-to-site VPN

A site-to-site VPN uses a secure gateway to link a network to one or more networks at different locations. Because the gateway manages traffic, this kind of VPN does not require the installation of a VPN client on each device. By enabling resource sharing between locations via a secure cloud VPN channel, site-to-site VPNs let businesses with multiple locations optimize their resources. 

For instance, a field office can establish a direct connection to a company's headquarters to enable staff members to access resources and vice versa. In effect, you can use a site-to-site VPN to provide access to databases, applications, unified communication systems, and more to other locations.

Remote Access VPN

Many of the same benefits of a VPN apply to remote access setups as well. A remote access VPN connects specific computers or other devices to a private network as opposed to linking entire locations together via gateways. Also, every device using this VPN setup must have the VPN client app installed. This makes it different from a site-to-site VPN, which only requires users to connect to their site’s network, which is connected to the other sites via a VPN.

Security Risks Associated with Remote Access VPNs

VPNs typically offer basic security through user authentication and traffic encryption. But they can present several risks because they may lack sufficient security measures or introduce vulnerabilities. These include:

  1. Users with too many permissions: Detailed user access to specific resources is not an option with VPNs. Users connect to the network using a shared pool of VPN-assigned Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. They can then view unapproved resources on the network, putting them a password away from having access to sensitive data and systems.
  2. Insecure endpoints: VPNs do not examine the connecting device's security posture, which can introduce malware to your network.
  3. Home users without access to the full security stack: In their main and branch offices, businesses often have a complete stack of security solutions. Employee homes are not covered by this security.
  4. VPN appliance as a single point of failure: If a VPN malfunctions or is rendered inoperable, such as by a denial-of-service (DoS) attack, there is a considerable risk of business interruption. This is especially problematic for organizations that have a sizable remote workforce connecting through a VPN.
  5. Hackers figuring out how to break into some VPNs: Businesses are responsible for keeping an eye out for security holes and updating and patching equipment as necessary. If they fail to do so, unpatched vulnerabilities can endanger the entire enterprise.
  6. No visibility into what is happening within a VPN connection: The encryption an SSL VPN offers can be a two-edged sword. A malicious employee can execute an insider attack remotely, and a network manager will be unable to intercept the data being sent during the incident.

How Is Data Security Ensured with Remote Access VPNs?

Remote access VPNs are often used by Internet Protocol security (IPSec) teams. Over less secure networks, such as public Wi-Fi, a VPN establishes a secure and encrypted connection. A VPN application both encrypts and decrypts the data you send and receive. It also encrypts the network IP addresses from which data is sent and received.

The encryption processes make it impossible for anyone without the key to view the data going back and forth through the VPN connection. So if someone tries to steal information, even if they manage to intercept the encrypted data moving through the connection, they will not be able to decipher it.

How Do Remote Access VPNs Benefit Your Business?

Remote access VPNs provide several business advantages, including:

  1. Convenient connections for remote workers: Remote access VPNs provide a practical and secure solution to access company files, which is particularly helpful with so many employees now connecting from different locations. Users only need to connect their computer or device to the VPN, and they can use it without worrying about data being stolen in transit.
  2. Affordability: Business owners should focus on data security, but doing so can be costly. Fortunately, a remote access VPN is a cost-effective solution. By using a remote access VPN, you can affordably give each of your employees a secure network connection.
  3. Enhanced data security: Data security for remote workers is the most obvious advantage of remote access VPNs. Since data is encrypted, remote employees can transmit information through the VPN without concerning themselves about a hacker intercepting it. As a result, everyone in the company can carry on with operations as usual, no matter where they are located.

Remote Access VPN Trends

Although the future of remote access VPNs looks bright, especially due to the increase in remote and hybrid work, there may be some bumps along the road, too.

More Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Arrangements for Remote Workers

Access for remote workers using BYOD is one of the most significant benefits of VPN technology. BYOD is a practice in which employees use devices they own for work rather than those provided by the organization. This approach offers significant benefits, such as enhanced productivity and the flexibility to work from home.

Similar trends show that more and more people are pursuing digital nomadism and remote work. The ability to work and live anywhere in the world is an exciting concept, and for many employees, it is only possible using a remote access VPN.

People Setting Up Personal VPN Servers

Data breaches and organizations getting hit through third-party providers have plagued the cybersecurity industry in recent years. More customers are beginning to wonder if they can trust certain cybersecurity providers, including those that offer remote VPN services. As a result, a trend is developing where people set up their own VPNs using network access control (NAC) devices or firewalls.

More Restrictions on the Use of VPNs

VPN services are common in many nations with internet censorship. These nations' leaders are aware that many people are using VPNs to bypass censorship, and they can take action by prohibiting or blocking VPN companies.

For instance, the Russian government issued an ultimatum to 10 VPN providers. They were told to obey internet rules to continue doing business in Russia—as well as refrain from giving their Russian customers access to restricted websites. Otherwise, Russia would go after them. In countries that want to restrict access to internet content, these kinds of measures will get more and more popular.

How Fortinet Can Help?

Maintaining a uniform security policy and suitable access control for all corporate users, applications, and devices is crucial—no matter where they are physically located. With the Fortinet Crypto VPN Firewall, you get the data privacy you need to safeguard your network. With Fortinet, your VPN solution uses hardware-assisted encryption to prevent breaches, while also providing a scalable, comprehensive data security solution. In addition, Fortinet solutions interface with the Fortinet Security Fabric, so you can share security data and benefit from data collected by other Fortinet users.

FAQs

What is a remote access VPN?

A remote access virtual private network (VPN) enables users to connect to a private network remotely using a VPN. Employees who need to access their company's network from off-site locations or people who want to securely connect to a private network from a public area frequently use this kind of VPN.

Is VPN the same as remote access?

No. You can remotely access a network or computer without a VPN. A VPN provides a specific kind of remote access.

How does a remote access VPN work?

Remote access VPNs work by encrypting data sent between an external user and your organization's internal network. Regardless of the user's location, remote access VPNs build private tunnels between a company's network and a remote user.