VPNs have been the buzzword for the past few years not only in the consumer world but in the business world as well. While VPNs have been around for some time now, the term and use of a VPN has only recently made it’s way over to the consumer market. With many different companies advertising for their VPN on services such as YouTube, TV commercials and even on news papers, their popularity has spread like wild fire across social media and word of mouth however many are still clueless about the purpose of a VPN. To fully understand a demystify what exactly a VPN is or does we first need to go back in time to when VPNs were first used. VPNs were primarily used in the business world to “bridge” an external network with an internal one through a secure tunnel, many people who have a company issued laptop or mobile device will often use a VPN to connect to business resources. Today VPN are more accessible and used by consumers and business users alike. Below we will dive into the differences between a consumer and a business VPN.
A typical consumer nowadays will use a VPN on a mobile device or home computer to avoid things such as ad tracking, content restrictions (usually media related), or simply to protect their privacy when accessing websites. While the privacy aspect is what most users jump on, it’s not actually as private as you think, all a VPN does as stated above is “tunnel” your connection to another network. So if you are accessing sensitive data through the tunnel, it may still be traced back to you if you are not encrypting your connection or being lazy with data and computer security. In most cases a consumer is better of without one as it can add complexity to your setup as well as frustration, our advice is if you are not trying to protect yourself from services such as ad trackers or are not sure exactly what a VPN is or the use of one, you are probably better off without one.
A typical business user will use a VPN to access corporate resources, this will typically be through some sort of proprietary client software such as Cisco AnyConnect. In most cases this is setup and managed from a company IT department and all the user needs to do is login. While a business user has it easier since they do not have to shop around for a VPN provider they are limited by the VPN configuration. In some cases it may be a “Split Tunnel” VPN where they access the internet through their local connection but all corporate resources are through the VPN, which means that all web searches and downloads will be over their private or public (not good) internet connection, this may put them at risk if not practicing proper computer hygene.