With the advance in cybersecurity practices, the VPN market is so varied that even some IT professionals struggle to point out the difference between VPN types. But indeed, they do change in terms of supported technologies, target users, and much more.
Two of these VPN types that shine through others are remote access VPN and site-to-site VPN; but do you know how they differ? What’s the logic behind both of them, or do they serve the same purpose? If you can’t choose between the two, follow along and learn all about them and their differences.
Remote access VPN in a nutshell
Remote access VPNs are a VPN type specifically designed for those who work remotely and for companies with a hybrid work model. These two unconventional work models have increased in popularity as now 74% of the professionals believe remote work will be permanent according to Forbes. Thus, they need a proven and reliable secure remote access service.
Remote access VPN services create a unique and invisible tunnel between end-users and the corporate network regardless of their location or connection. By doing so, they encapsulate the information traffic between the two parties to protect it against cyber threats.
They offer the same level of security as hardware-based VPNs in office environments, but remote access VPNs aren’t limited by physical boundaries or location. As long as the end-user is verified from their device, they can access corporate data no matter where or what connection they’re coming from.
Additionally, even if an eavesdropper somehow gets their hands on the information, it will be completely encrypted and unsolvable so the sensitive data is always confidential.
Unlike traditional VPNs, remote access VPNs can be acquired from providers and they don’t require any hardware at all. They are maintenance-free services that you can get for a small subscription fee per user.
From many providers, we suggest NordLayer (https://nordlayer.com/remote-access-vpn/) for its proven brand and worldwide fast access capabilities. Remember that cybersecurity is a serious business, and you don’t want to mess with unknown brands.
What is a site to site VPN?
Site-to-site VPNs are specifically designed to securely connect two or more remote LANs, unlike remote access VPNs which connect end-users and their devices to a LAN. Site-to-site connections can be divided into two types; intranet and extranet connections.
Intranet site-to-site VPNs are perfect for companies with several branches and offices in different locations. They connect the LANs of each office and create a single network where all the data transfers between branches are secured.
Extranet site-to-site VPN services provide security by connecting your company network’s LAN with other LANs on the internet such as those of companies, users, or customers. Therefore, you can share information with your affiliates while still preventing any data breach or threats to your corporate LAN.
Site-to-site VPNs ensure data security for companies that send or receive information online from remote offices, business partners, or customers. This VPN type creates a tunnel between the LANs to provide uninterrupted and impenetrable communication.
Additionally, these VPNs create the perfect base to work together with your branches, and partners. By combining the two physically remote networks into one without giving up LAN security, they grant you and your partners access to the same resources.
Remote access VPN vs. site to site VPN: What’s the difference?
Remote access VPNs are probably the best choice for companies with remote employees. They connect the employee’s device with the corporate network, ensuring secure access to the employee regardless of their location.
Site-to-site VPNs can be more useful if your company has several offices that need to connect their networks for better cooperation. These VPNs can bring several LANs together to create a single great network securely.
Remote access VPNs are highly flexible in terms of security protocols they can adopt. It supports technologies like Internet Protocol Security (IPsec), Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), or Secure Shell (SSH). They can also employ multiple types of these security technologies in a single system to maximize protection.
Site-to-site VPN services are usually implemented with IPsec technology. But they can adopt protocols such as Transport Layer Security (TLS). However, overall, remote access VPNs are more diverse in terms of security protocols.
You can see how these protocols exactly work to understand better by checking out Easy Tech Junkie’s great article.
Business size & practicality
If you have a company with multiple networks and you find it both difficult and insecure to have resources on separate branches, site-to-site VPN services might be the perfect solution for you. So, it can be said that site-to-site is preferable for bigger companies.
However, if your business has a single network and remote employees worldwide, a remote access VPN solution will be your savior. You can easily provide secure remote access to worldwide talents without worrying about untrusted Wi-Fi connections or BYOD devices.
Site-to-site VPN services don’t require every network to set up VPN tunnels. Since they combine LANs into a single network, only the initiator needs to set up the network to create a private tunnel with IPsec technology.
Remote access VPN services require each end-user to set up a VPN client software. This VPN type allows multiple users and each of these users need to communicate with the VPN gateway. Remote access VPNs need to verify users and create a unique, private tunnel with the network, thus, the software is needed.
Remote access VPN and site-to-site VPN are often confusing, and their differences might not be apparent at first look. But these two cybersecurity technologies are actually fundamentally different. From the protocols they follow to targeted customers, they serve different purposes.
If you are to choose one of these two, remember the importance of a streamlined, practical, and suitable cybersecurity structure and decide the best one according to your needs. Nothing is perfect for everybody, so prioritize your cybersecurity requirements by considering potential threats and make your decision.