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What Is a Remote Access VPN?

Learn how to enhance the security of data on your company's network and still work from anywhere in the world.

Dusan Vasic Image
Updated:

May 19,2022

A remote access VPN (virtual private network) is a solution that allows users to connect to a local private network from anywhere in the world. Companies mostly use this type of VPN to provide a way for employees to securely connect to their network from remote locations when working from home or traveling.

Nowadays, working remotely is one of the benefits offered by many companies and a necessity in certain situations. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for companies to be more flexible and have the necessary infrastructure to allow their employees to work from home. That's where remote VPN access comes in.

Benefits of Secure Remote Access

As companies generate and process more and more information, it is becoming increasingly important to protect that data from unauthorized access. This is especially true for organizations with employees who need to access the company's network while not physically present at the office. Remote access VPNs have multiple benefits that can help keep data secure without disrupting productivity.

Security

A remote access VPN uses encryption and other security measures to protect data as it travels over the public internet. As a result, data is less likely to be intercepted by hackers or other unauthorized users. 

When you use VPN client software, you enable secure access through a VPN tunnel for remote users. Anyone trying to intercept the communication between you and the company network would only see the encrypted information.

OpenVPN is one of the most used protocols for remote VPNs, while PPTP and L2TP solutions are also implemented.

Cost Savings

Remote access VPN solutions can also reduce costs. With more remote workers, you don't need as much office space, and the accompanying costs for rent, utilities, and office furniture are automatically reduced.

Better Productivity

Remote VPN access can also improve productivity. If your employees have the flexibility to work from anywhere, it can make their work more enjoyable, accessible, and efficient. With a VPN they can connect to the company network from home, a coffee shop, the airport, wherever they feel most comfortable and productive. This can be a great advantage for companies with employees who travel frequently.

Flexibility

Remote access VPN software can be used with almost any type of internet connection, including public WiFi, and it doesn't require special hardware. All you need is a computer or mobile device with an internet connection and the VPN client installed.

How Remote Access VPN Works

A remote access VPN solution uses a public internet connection to connect to a private network. The VPN client software on your computer or mobile device encrypts the data before it is sent over the internet and decrypts the data after it arrives at the VPN server.

The VPN server is usually located at the company's headquarters, and it is the gateway to the company network. The VPN server is the one that authenticates you and grants you access to the company network.

Once connected to the VPN server, all of your internet traffic is routed through the VPN server. This means that any website you visit or any app you use will see the IP address of the VPN server, not your actual IP address.

Why Are Remote Access VPNs Getting Replaced by Zero-Trust Networks?

While remote VPN solutions are still widely used, they are slowly being replaced by zero-trust networks. These networks are a newer type of security architecture that is gaining popularity due to the increased security they provide.

Zero-trust networks do not trust any user or device by default. This means that every user and device must be authenticated and authorized before being allowed access to the network. This is in contrast to traditional security models, which trust everyone within the network by default and only block those trying to access it from outside.

Furthermore, login sessions periodically time out, forcing users to continuously re-verify. The enhanced security of zero-trust networks comes at the cost of increased complexity. They require a lengthier initial setup and more ongoing maintenance than a remote VPN service.

As a newer technology, zero-trust networks are not as widely adopted as remote access VPNs for the time being. But, as more organizations become aware of the increased security they provide, it is likely that zero-trust networks will eventually replace VPN as a solution for remote access entirely.

Site-to-Site VPN: Alternative Remote Access VPN Solution

If your business needs to connect multiple locations, you may be better off with a site-to-site VPN. It’s similar to a remote access VPN, but instead of connecting one user to the network, it connects two networks to each other.

A site-to-site VPN can be used to connect two office locations in a joint network or a branch office to the main office. These VPNs are usually more expensive than remote access VPNs, but they can be advantageous for bigger organizations.

Remote Access VPN vs. SASE

If you are considering a remote access VPN setup for your organization, you may also come across the term SASE (secure access service edge). SASE is a newer technology that combines the features of a remote access VPN with those of a firewall.

SASE provides a single platform for both security and networking, which can be more convenient than using two separate products. However, SASE is still a relatively new technology, and it may not be available from all vendors yet.

In addition to improved business solutions and remote VPN alternatives, there are service providers that offer tried and tested clients and servers. Here are our recommendations that you can easily implement in your organization.  

ExpressVPN 

ExpressVPN is a well-known company in cybersecurity and internet privacy circles. It has excellent coverage with servers in 160 locations across 94 countries. With top-of-the-line encryption, unlimited bandwidth, and a wide range of supported devices and operating systems, it’s a great choice for small to medium organizations

Surfshark

Surfshark is a provider that caters to large companies since it allows an unlimited number of devices to use the service simultaneously. The company maintains a zero-logs policy, has private DNS servers, and uses IKEv2/IPsec and OpenVPN protocols

NordVPN

NordVPN’s NordLayer has more than 5,000 businesses using its remote access VPN. The solution is hardware-free, without fixed contracts, and can easily adapt to your company infrastructure. Deployment takes around 10 minutes and will not use up additional company resources. 

Further Reading

FAQ
Do you need VPN for remote access?

You don't, but a remote access VPN is recommended. This is especially true if your data center has sensitive information and you want to ensure that it's only accessible to authorized users.

Is VPN the same as remote access?

No, VPN and remote access are not the same thing. A VPN is a type of network that uses a public internet connection to create an encrypted communication tunnel with the server and allow access to the company's data.

How does remote access work?

A remote access VPN allows you to connect to a private network from any location as long as you have internet access. The VPN client software on your laptop or smartphone encrypts your communication with the VPN server at your office.

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