Talking about VPN or Virtual Private Network, without using technical terms and providing useful information even to non-professionals, is not an easy thing. Often these definitions are used to describe slightly different things. Therefore, it is necessary to make some distinctions between the main VPN types:
Many companies have multiple geographic locations. When we use a PC for work, we want to access corporate data and systems without distinction or having to think about their geographic location. This often happens due to site-to-site VPNs when the company installs devices (for example firewalls) in each location. These devices connect the two locations using the internet, but the data that transits is encrypted, so that no one else can understand the meaning. It therefore means that your data passes through a de facto public but “virtually private” network because it is secure and encrypted.
The corporate VPN is the one that allows you, wherever you are, to reach your company’s systems. The only thing you need is an internet connection. For example, the home connection, a hotel Wi-Fi hotspot, or the connection of your mobile phone. The principle used here is the same. If you open the company’s intranet from home, you use your internet connection to enter the company and access the intranet, that is most likely located on one or more company servers. Obviously, your company does not want corporate resources to be published on the internet and therefore be accessible to everyone, so it provides you with a VPN client or a clientless VPN. When you connect via VPN, your traffic is encrypted and passes through your company, giving you secure access to corporate resources.
Personal Virtual Private Networks
Some personal VPN software has appeared on the market in recent years. This software encrypts all traffic from your device to remote servers owned by VPN providers. These solutions are useful, when you connect to public Wi-Fi networks, as they prevent cybercriminals from capturing your unencrypted traffic and stealing personal or other information transferred during the browsing session. Moreover, it can be useful when you need to bypass local restrictions. For example, in Russia it is not allowed to access LinkedIn, so if you go on vacation to St. Petersburg, you can use a VPN software to ensure your connection “goes out on the internet” from another country and then access your LinkedIn profile without difficulties.
When should you use corporate VPN?
My advice is to use the corporate Virtual Private Network whenever you work from a place other than the office, no matter if you access the corporate CRM or discuss a business project with a colleague via WhatsApp. In this way you are sure that all the exchanged data is encrypted and protected.
When to use a personal VPN instead?
Every time you connect to the internet you expose an important piece of information, that is your public IP address. You can verify your public IP address through different sites such as “What Is My IP“. This information, together with the other data like cookies, exposes your personal data and allows anyone on the internet to track your browsing, your preferences etc. Browsing risks increase when you connect to public Wi-Fi networks.
The characteristics that make free Wi-Fi hotspots attractive to consumers also make them desirable to hackers, as they can establish a network connection without performing any authentication. This offers hackers an incredible opportunity to freely access unprotected devices connected to the same network.
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