More and more companies shift to remote work models, and remote work security is becoming increasingly important, perhaps more than ever. Creating secure connections between remote locations and team members overseas is a crucial aspect of modern life. One of the best ways to do that is through site-to-site VPN solutions.
You probably wonder what a site-to-site VPN is and why it is such a good solution for remote work security concerns. No worries as we’ll dive deep into how these solutions function, and how you can set one up. In this comprehensive guide, you’ll be all ready with implementing site-to-site VPN for your workers.
The basics of site-to-site VPN
Let’s start by defining a site-to-site VPN; it is a virtual private network (VPN) that is designed to connect multiple locations with each other. If there are branch offices or remote workers in different locations, site-to-site VPN connections are utilized to bring them together securely.
They have two main components; the VPN gateway and the VPN client. The gateway is the device connecting these locations and users together. VPN client, on the other hand, is a device or software the end-users use to connect to the VPN.
There are different types of site-to-site VPNs, but two of the most common protocols are IPSec and SSL. IPSec-based VPNs use Internet Protocol Security to encrypt and authenticate data when connecting remote users. SSL VPNs, however, use Secure Sockets Layer to do the same thing. IPSec VPNs are usually considered to be safer, but they indeed require much more resources to set up.
If you have remote users accessing confidential data daily as a part of their job, going with the IPSec protocol would be a better choice. However, if you have a small team of remote workers that access somewhat basic data, SSL would be just good enough.
Setting up a site-to-site VPN
One of the better qualities of these tools is the ease of implementation and maintenance. Businesses of all sizes regardless of the location of their remote workers can easily set up a site-to-site VPN solution. Keep reading to see the step-by-step guide which explains all instructions.
1-) Configure the VPN gateway
This first step will help you set up the gateway component of the site-to-site VPN. Depending on the protocol you choose, this process will change. If you are going with the IPSec protocol, you will need to configure your router or firewall with the required security settings.
They will enable authentication and encryption of the data. For SSL VPN, you need to configure your device with the required SSL certificate instead. But regardless, this is always your first step when implementing site-to-site VPN.
2-) Configure the VPN client
The next step of this journey is setting up the VPN client for the individual end users. They’ll use this to connect to business resources remotely. In both of the protocols, the end user will download software to their devices.
However, just like the first step, users who will use IPSec VPNs will have to use the necessary security settings on their devices while users with an SSL VPN can download the required SSL certificate and be done with it.
3-) Create and test the VPN connection
Once you have both the client and the gateway ready to go, it’s time to initiate the remote connection through the site-to-site VPN. The gateway should be able to let the client connect to its resources remotely. Once you create the connection, it is important to check whether everything is working correctly.
The best test here is just having a remote worker connect to the gateway, and have them try to access business resources. Just make sure the worker covers a wide range of resources to check the operability of your VPN connection.
4-) Secure the VPN connection
In order to protect your remote connection from external threats, you need to implement security measures such as firewalls, intrusion detection tools, or network access control (NAC). The site-to-site VPN connection you use will likely carry sensitive information and business-related data, so these measures will help you keep them secure. On that note, these measures are simply general suggestions and the specific steps or the tools needed for your company may change.
Maintaining a site-to-site VPN
Once your site-to-site VPN is all setup, you need to monitor, manage, and maintain it frequently to ensure it’s running correctly at all times. Starting with the monitoring, you should be able to have control over the traffic on your VPN. Checking the status of the gateway and the clients and looking for potential errors will help you greatly.
Another important process is managing the security of the VPN. This part consists of adopting the necessary security measures we mentioned above. Keeping your VPN secure from external threats is crucial.
Proper maintenance is also essential to ensure that the VPN is always up and running. This includes regularly checking for updates on the VPN software and replacing your gateways and clients when necessary.
A site-to-site VPN connection is a great way to secure remote workers and provide access to business resources. From small businesses to big enterprises, all companies can benefit from a secure, fast, and direct connection between remote offices or employees. If you are in need of such a solution, make sure to go over the steps above in detail, and implement a VPN solution sooner than later.