What is a VPN?
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. It’s a secure tunnel between two points on the internet. This is often between your office network and your laptop when travelling, but some people also use public VPN services to circumvent geographic restrictions for video streaming services.
Using a VPN to hide your activity
There’s a misconception that a VPN service will anonymise your network traffic and stop your government or ISP from spying on you. This is only partially true. A VPN only changes the endpoint where your traffic enters the wider internet.
So what this means is instead of your ISP being able to see what you’re doing, the VPN provider you’re subscribed to can now see your traffic, essentially pushing the problem elsewhere rather than giving you true anonymity.
When would you recommend using a VPN?
The strongest case for using a VPN is to securely access your business network when away from the office.
When you’re travelling with your laptop and connecting back to your office with a VPN, you’ve created a secure, encrypted link between your computer and the office network, so traffic flowing back and forth can’t be spied upon or modified.
This allows you to have access to your server, company files and business applications just as if you were sitting in the office. So in addition to being extremely convenient, it reduces the risk of security breaches when you’re working remotely, particularly when on an untrusted network.
Just remember that a VPN doesn’t give you license to ignore good security practices, so you should still avoid free and public WiFi hotspots.
Also take care when browsing the internet and opening emails, as a VPN doesn’t shield you against loading up a malicious site or email.
If you think a VPN is suited to your business needs then let us know and we can help you set it up.