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An understanding of virtual private network (VPN) benefits and disadvantages can help your organization decide if and how to use one. In many situations, the benefits of using a VPN outweigh the drawbacks. How important is it to have a VPN and what are the advantages of a VPN? When properly configured, it could significantly bolster your business' security profile. 

Consider the VPN pros and cons below to decide what is best for your company.

Pros of VPN: What are the advantages of using a VPN?

Secure Your Network

The benefits of using a VPN are vast.  One of the most important is the fact that businesses can effectively secure their network.  Without your knowledge, an application or website can keep track of your activity online. They can then analyze the data they collect and use it to try to target you with ads. Without a VPN, you may experience an influx of pop-up ads that can interrupt your browsing experience and be a general nuisance. 

If you use a VPN, it can stop people, software, and web browsers from gaining access to your connection. This keeps the information you transmit and receive secure and anonymous.

Hide Your Private Information

Another one of the primary benefits of VPN is the ability to hide your private information. Hackers can use a variety of methods to intercept sensitive information you enter on websites. Using that information, they can try to impersonate you, gaining access to bank accounts, credit card information, and more. With a VPN, however, you can enjoy high-level security, such as 256-bit encryption. This makes all your communications online look like nonsensical, garbled text and characters to anyone who is able to find a way to intercept them.

Prevent Data Throttling

Data throttling happens when you have consumed a specific amount of your available data, and your internet service provider (ISP) then decides to slow your service down. If you have a VPN, you'll soon find one of the benefits of VPN is the ability to avoid a data cap, particularly because not even your ISP can see how much data you are using. This may be especially helpful for employees who have to use data plans on their smart devices while accessing the internet when on the road.

Avoid Bandwidth Throttling

Bandwidth throttling is when your internet speed is intentionally slowed down by your ISP or someone else who can control how your Wi-Fi network performs. This is sometimes done when you visit certain websites or engage in certain internet activity. If you use a digital VPN service, the mobile traffic coming from your device can be encrypted. With the encryption, others cannot see the websites you are visiting. 

Because bandwidth throttling is sometimes triggered by the sites you use or the type of activity you engage in, if your ISP cannot see the data going to and from your device, they cannot throttle it down in these situations. They may still throttle your data during certain times of the day, however, to free up bandwidth for their other users. 

In most situations, employees and others using your internet connection will not be throttled based on their internet usage, but using a VPN allows companies to conceal their data transmissions and eliminate the possibility altogether.

Get Access to Geo-blocked Services

With a VPN, you can get another Internet Protocol (IP) address. IP addresses indicate where the device is located as it browses the internet, streams content, or engages in other online activity. Some sites and services do not allow users from certain countries to access some or all of what they have to offer. This is common with streaming services that cater to specific locations. 

It is also common for some business websites to limit how you can use their public work services based on where you are, such as getting quotes or accessing more specific information about their services. If you use a VPN, you can make it look like you are using the internet from a location that is acceptable to the service you are trying to access. 

If your employees need to have full access to all safe information and services offered by websites, a VPN can make it easier.

Network Scalability

While a private network can help your business get off the ground, the cost of expanding the network can be prohibitive. If you use a VPN server, you can provide access to many employees and remote workers simultaneously. You can also run key applications in a cloud environment and give them access through the secure tunnel of the VPN. 

This can include anything from email to full-blown applications that you would normally run on a desktop computer. When employees connect to the VPN, they gain access to another computer that you use to run the application they need. Each employee with a login can access the VPN and therefore the application. Adding more employees is only a matter of providing more bandwidth, if necessary, and the login credentials to each new team member.

Reduce Support Costs

With a VPN setup that incorporates cloud computing architecture, you have the opportunity to save considerable money on support services. For example, with an on-site setup, the performance and upkeep of the in-house server is typically the job of internal IT staff. This may involve hours of checking how well the server is performing, whether all employees are achieving optimal throughput, and whether it is under attack by hackers or malware. 

In addition, when an issue is identified, more time needs to be allocated to addressing it and the fallout it may have caused within your organization. 

With a VPN, however, all upkeep, performance checks, and security measures fall under the purview of the service provider. Their IT expenditure is supported by a vast number of paying clients, making their cost per client relatively low. These cost savings get passed on to you in the form of fees that are lower than what you would pay to have a dedicated team manage your infrastructure. This is undoubtedly one of the best benefits of VPN for businesses.

To ensure this is the case, it is wise to carefully check the services the provider offers, as well as the kinds of hardware they are using. More modern components and security measures often result in a better experience for you, the client.

Cons of VPN: The Disadvantages of using a VPN?

Lower Internet Speeds

The encryption process a VPN undergoes as it secures your data takes time, and this could negatively impact your online experience. The problem is more pronounced with certain VPNs than with others, so it is important to check the specifications before you agree to use the service.

VPN blockers can negate the effectiveness of a VPN. Some sites, and even some nations, block people who use VPNs from accessing websites and content. This happens in several countries, such as Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Oman. Typically, this is done to prevent their citizens from consuming content they feel is inappropriate, including news websites, entertainment, and anything else from other countries that they feel could negatively impact their residents.

Complex Configuration

VPNs have a few moving parts that can be difficult to understand. If you do not have much exposure to networking terminology, you may be better off choosing a VPN provider equipped with the support services necessary to get you up and running. 

You can also look into what is VPN and gain the background knowledge necessary to understand the basic terms and function of VPN technology. It is important to make sure your VPN is properly configured, whether you do it yourself or get assistance. Otherwise, your communications could be left exposed to hackers, malware, or other threats.

How Fortinet Can Help

Fortinet offers a diverse selection of high-speed crypto VPNs using FortiGate. With FortiGate, your organization gets a scalable VPN that protects your team members from attacks, including all the data they send through the network. Attackers try to exploit vulnerabilities while data is in motion. 

FortiGate provides organizations with secure tunnels that keep attackers away from your data and internet activity. It uses both secure sockets layer (SSL) and Internet Protocol security (IPsec) in conjunction with FortiASIC hardware to provide a fast, reliable experience for your users. FortiGate takes care of your security, and the Fortinet application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) gives you chips that are dedicated to enhancing the performance of your network.