What is a virtual private network?
A VPN is a secure way for you to give remote access to your main office computer network to other branch offices, or individuals working at home or in other locations (e.g. sales staff on the road).
Unlike linking your branch office back to the head office through leased phone lines, a VPN uses the internet (via broadband) and secure encryption technology.
This means that VPNs are extremely secure and comparatively cheap and easy to set up.
Because of these advantages, VPNs have fast become a major networking technology over the last few years.
With a VPN you can send data, via the (publicly shared) internet in the same secure way as you would in a private link.
The most common setup for a VPN in small and medium sized firms is that between a client and a server. The remote client PC (installed with special VPN client software) using its broadband connectivity to set up a secure ‘tunnel’ through the internet. This ‘tunnel’ uses special encryption and user authentication techniques to only allow authorised users to access the main office server at the other end of the tunnel. Your server allows this remote user, via this secure tunnel, to access resources inside your network, as if the user was physically in the office.