The Advantages of Using a Virtual Private Network
Everyone knows the Internet is a dangerous place. In some ways it resembles the Wild West before law and order was imposed upon it. Unless you know what you're doing, any data sent over the Internet – your credit card details, your business files – is easy prey for hackers.
One way around the problem is to stay away from the Internet and build your own network, which is rather like building your own private roads to avoid the public ones. It can work fine if you keep the network small, but once your network starts growing it becomes ever more hungry for cash.
Thankfully, there is a middle way. A Virtual Private Network allows you to enjoy the security of a private network without having to lay down your own expensive infra-structure. You use what's already out there – namely the Internet – only you use it in a clever way. In basic terms, what a VPN does is link computers, data centers and other IT nodes via the Internet while ensuring that data going between those nodes stays secure.
Here are some of the advantages of having a VPN:
- It's cheap. Because you're using what's already out there, you don't have to invest in expensive equipment, only a VPN package. And it's not just for businesses. Even a private user who wants to protect their privacy and browse the Internet anonymously can afford to use a VPN. In fact, many can't afford not to.
- It's secure. Before data gets sent over the Internet, a VPN server encrypts it so that it's safe from prying eyes. When you're using a public Wi-Fi hotspot, it is easy for a third party to intercept your communications. If you have a VPN, you need not worry. Your data will be encrypted and of absolutely no use to anyone you don't want it to be.
- It's flexible. Adding new nodes to your network can be done on the fly. For example, if you're a travelling salesman, you can connect with your corporate IT from anywhere in the world that has access to the Internet. And you can rest assured that your data is as safe as if you were sending it from your office back home.
- It's scalable. For all intents and purposes, the Internet is infinite – or it might as well be. If you want to add a thousand more lap tops to your network, there's no need to invest in new servers and no need to add extra physical space to accommodate expensive communications equipment. A VPN can grow as quickly as your business without causing you headaches.
- It improves productivity. If transport strikes or bad weather prevent your employees reaching the office – no worries. With a VPN, they can work at home or just about anywhere else for that matter. And all those long business journeys where you couldn't work because you didn't have access to your data? Didn't that often feel like a waste of time? Now, whether you're on a train or sitting in a hotel lounge, you can be productive.