In simple terms, a VPN connects one or more isolated networks together. The main benefit of using a VPN is to allow data to be transferred over an encrypted format. While privacy is a main concern when using a server, often the only way to connect to it is over an untrusted connection. When traveling, unsecured Wi-Fi and cell phone networks are often the only choices available to connect to a corporate or enterprise LANs. During this time, services such as telnet, ftp, and email will communicate using plain text, which opens the possibility of sensitive information such as passwords to be intercepted and viewed. This can be prevented by using a VPN.
In some cases, VPNs are a requirement for working with a VPS or dedicated server. Often, the maintenance of a server needs to be done over unsecured protocols, which can make security difficult. Many times, compliance rules will require the servers to be locked via a firewall to prevent outside users from interacting with them. While this is a good security practice, it can affect the ease of use of your application or service. This generally requires the use of a SSH tunnel, port forwarding, proxy, or VPN. The benefit of a VPN is that you can gain user accountability, because it allows you to see when clients are logged into your server. This can be useful if an incident occurs and you need to trace actions performed on the server.
VPN solutions have come a long way in the last few years, becoming faster and easier to use. Both Windows and Linux have solutions that can be implemented quickly on any server. For practical reasons, it is recommended to have a separate server for a VPN. We often recommend OpenVPN to our clients, as it’s fast and simple to install. Just visit https://openvpn.net/index.php/access-server/download-openvpn-as-sw.html and install the package for your OS. Users can be configured via the web interface. There is a small license fee, but it is worth it for the peace of mind of extra security. Alternatively, Windows has a built-in VPN solution controlled via GUI to setup and create accounts: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc725734(v=ws.10).aspx However, it often requires a more powerful server to operate, depending on it’s use.
Whatever operation system you use, a VPN is highly recommended to keep your server running secure and problem-free. If your services are hosted with ServerPoint.com, we can help you get a VPN solution up and running. Contact us at https://secure.serverpoint.com/tickets/