Site-to-Site VPN: What Are They and What Do They Do?
Site-to-site VPNs, also known as router-to-router VPNs, are mostly used in corporate environments. They are used by businesses with branches and offices in different places. Site-to-site VPNs are used to connect all different office locations into a singular network.
These types of setups are also often given the name Intranet-based VPNs since they essentially create a tunneled network for the company. On the other hand, when a VPN is used to connect the offices of different companies, the encryption service is called Extranet-based VPN.
The fundamental purpose of the site-to-site VPN is to simply create a secure tunneling protocol between two regionally distinct offices. This allows the company to maintain a safe communications network and to ensure the privacy of its digital property.
The basic premise behind site-to-site VPN is router-based authentication. In order to establish communication, one router acts as a client while the other will act as a server. Once the validation has been made, communications can commence.
Another way to understand site-to-site VPN is to see how they operate. Such VPN networks are part of both LAN and WAN networks. This allows for the sharing of resources across all networks while preventing any external connections from intercepting them.
There are two primary methods by which such connections can be established. These are:
- Intranet VPN method
- Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) VPN method
The fundamental difference between MPLS-based VPNs and Intranet VPN lies in the connections used and the virtual tunneling process itself.
Difference Between Site to Site VPNs and The Remote Access VPN You Use
Site-to-site VPNs differ from remotely accessed VPNs as they allow multiple user access to the encryption service. The former allows users to connect to a network as if they have access by default, while the
latter is used by individuals to access VPN facilities over the internet using a device.
So, for private users with individualized needs for encrypted tunneling, remote-access VPNs are the better option. This is because they can offer a lot of value for a considerably lower price. However, for corporations that want to keep their data secure while allowing multiple offices in different regions to collaborate, site-to-site VPNs are better.
Does Your Business Need a Site to Site VPN?
Site-to-site VPNs are what may be called pro-level VPN encryption tunneling protocol networks. While a single user VPN connects one user and their devices to a network, a site-to-site VPN will do that for your entire organization.
As a business, you are sure to find it useful that your connections are being routed through remote locations. This will prevent anyone from government agencies to rival companies and even hacking groups from gaining access to your data. You can also choose the location of the server(s) through which your connections will be routed.
To better understand the benefit of this service, consider the following examples of data vulnerability:
- You begin working from a place like an open library or an airport lounge. While you get free Wi-Fi, anyone can access the same connections. So, your device and data are exposed to all who can access the Wi-Fi network of that place.
- You are working with remote personnel or liaising with workers outside your own organization. This necessitates the transmission of sensitive data which can be hijacked by anyone with the right tech skills.
- Your business has a free Wi-Fi service for customers. This opens the doors to all kinds of nefarious elements like exploiting your network connection to scam others.
Which Site-to-Site VPN Should Your Organization Deploy: Crucial Questions to Ask
We’ve established that having a site-to-site VPN can be a great asset for companies. But even within this category, there are a number of options available. So you should be careful when choosing the right one for your business.
While there are many technical differences between each type, there are some questions you can ask to form a clear picture. The first of these is:
How Many Types of Site-to-site VPNs are there?
There are a number of options available for site-to-site VPN. These are L2TPv3-based, IPsec, MPLS layer-2, MPLS layer-3, or other technology.
Now, when you get to choose from these options, there are some considerations to make. Here is a list of questions you should ask:
- Will I need to encrypt and authenticate the web traffic from the office?
When you need to have encryption and authentication as a standard VPN measure, IPSec is the best.
- Will I need end-to-end quality of service (QoS)?
QoS is basically important for measuring the latency, jitter, and packet loss of your connections when using a VPN. This will impact your overall VPN experience and it has a lot of significance for business purposes. Now, there can be a number of options for deploying QoS. However, for end-to-end QoS guarantees, VPNs that use MPLS layer-3 are considered the best by experts.
- What is my Cost Consideration?
When considering an organization-wide VPN setup, the price will most likely be an important factor. However, if you are looking for VPN solutions where cost is the primary concern, then IPSec VPN should be considered first. This will not get you high-end encryption and safety, but it will provide a decent layer of encryption for all your online data.
Now, when you are making a site-to-site VPN investment, you need to understand it will be an ongoing expense. Maintaining it requires a fair degree of running expense. So, the first factor to sort out is whether you can benefit from site-to-site VPN services.
The majority of businesses get their VPN network preconfigured by security solution services. Names like Cisco, Checkpoint, and Palo Alto Networks are frequently heard in this market. Also, the site-to-site VPN services will most likely be only a part of a much larger security service contract.
Other key factors which you should consider include:
- Organization Size
- The distance between different locations
- Specifics of the resources being shared
Site-to-site VPNs are the best for companies where constant interaction between employees in different office locations is needed. Using a VPN in such cases will secure the sharing of resources against external access while allowing for smoother collaboration.
While site-to-site VPNs have great benefits to offer, they also charge a hefty price for them. Small and medium sized enterprises can consider this option but they are likely to find other options more financially sustainable. Using multiple LAN networks can work for providing secure access to remote workers although they don’t compare to VPNs.
Other than that, there are also a number of VPN-based remote work security options. Some of these are Cloud VPN and business VPN plans offered by consumer VPNs providing remote access VPN etc. Good examples of this are PureVPN, ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and TorGuard VPN.
The right kind of VPN for your business varies by the factors we have discussed above. Also, the number of options in the market is growing steadily. Remote working and collaboration between geographically distant offices are becoming more important by the hour.
Having a VPN has become a necessity. If your business is growing, investing in a comprehensive security solution which includes a VPN is a smart move. Choose wisely and keep your enterprise’s digital resources secure!