What is a VPN?
VPN stands for “virtual private network.” With a VPN connection, which securely connects your remote device to your office network, you can access your office network just as if you were in the building. Because the connection is encrypted, you do not need to worry about others snooping around your connection as you would with a public Wi-Fi connection. Think of the connection between your remote computer and your network as being a private pipeline.
Requirements for Setting Up an Office VPN
While there are dozens of VPN connection service providers out there, you will need a suitable VPN-enabled router installed in your office before you can create a virtual private network and connect to it.
VPN-enabled routers must have both wired and wireless connectivity, support up to 10 connections, and have built-in VPN features.
GET MORE CONTENT LIKE THIS DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX!
- PhoneThis field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
The reality of most small and medium sized non-profits is that many people work from home creating, editing, and updating data. As such, they need to connect to their work network from home in order to access files remotely, so they can maintain data accuracy and ensure the continuity of the organization.
The best solution that will allow organizations to access files remotely is to set-up a virtual private network (VPN).
A VPN provides a cable-like connection via the Internet between a remote PC and your office’s server. It’s like taking a network cable at your office and walking home with it, pulling it through the streets, and plugging it into your laptop when you get home.
If you use a nonprofit CRM like Sumac, then you have access to your database from anywhere, but what if you want to connect to your work network from home?
VPN software on your computer establishes a secure point-to-point tunnel through the Internet with your office to access files remotely. In order to have a virtual private network, you must have a router that is VPN enabled.
5 Steps to Setting up a VPN
Check to ensure your hardware router meets the following requirements:
- The router must have wired and wireless connectivity.
- It must have virtual private network functionality built in.
- It must support up to 10 workstations.
For organizations that do not have the correct router, check out this list of the best routers for 2020. We’ve also included a comparison of the top three VPN providers below, along with a guide on how to choose the best one for your needs.
First, what is a VPN?
A VPN is an encrypted tunnel for your internet traffic that goes through the open internet, often from your home office or coffee shop to your work network at the office. You can connect across a VPN no matter what network you’re on and “appear” to be sitting at your desk at work using all the resources you could if you actually were there.
For our purposes, we’ll only consider VPNs that facilitate working from home. You’ll see a lot of online vendors offering standalone VPN services, but these are typically aimed at users who just want a secure connection to the internet that’s less susceptible to tracking, or to bypass network filters, but not necessarily for those seeking to work from home.
It’s called a virtual private network because it creates your own personal tunnel no one else can access. If all your team members are working remotely from their home offices, this is how you can work as a virtual team without all being at the main office, or gathered together in some other location. Due to COVID-19, this is a newly found desire – even a requirement – for many right now.
How Remote Access VPN Software Works
How exactly does Access Server accomplish this?
How remote access VPN works is this: you start with an already existing connection. The most logical and popular method of transporting info is the public internet — so a VPN carries information there. But anything you send over the internet that isn’t protected can be seen by any other people along that path. Anyone on your wifi network could eavesdrop on what you’re doing. The only way to prevent that?
That’s what Access Server uses. Whatever you send out on your own Wifi, at your office, or somewhere in between, gets encrypted. That means only your device and the Access Server in your office know how to read it. To everyone else, it’s just a garbled mess.
Encryption is a pillar of VPNs. When connected to AS with your phone, any information you pull up becomes encrypted and unreadable — only then does it goes on it’s merry way across the internet
While it’s in transit there, no one can understand it — it’s simply garbled nonsense. Access Server, however, has keys to un-encrypt it, which is how it can read it. Any info then sent back to your device from Access Server is encrypted as well, so that anything that goes over that connection in either direction is unreadable to anyone else.
Let’s look at an example.
Closed Captioning Courtesy of OpenVPN Access Server: Remote Access to LAN
A nonprofit corporation provides closed captioning for broadcast, opening up television access to the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities. They have offices in two US states and a remote data center, and the majority of their staff work remotely — keeping their organization operating 24/7.
- The remote staff needs to connect reliably to any of the three facilities to access specialized software/services.
- Should a resource at any site give the Captioner concern, they need to be able to quickly redirect to a different facility to minimize caption loss (especially when captioning live events!)
- Employees use Windows operating system exclusively, so any solution needs to support Windows.
Our solution: OpenVPN Access Server.
Remote staff now have efficient access to all three facilities.
- Because of the OS options in Access Server, the IT staff is able to choose a distribution they’re already familiar with.
- Access Server can be configured to run in primary-secondary failover for LAN deployment to support the high availability needed for 24/7 operations.
- OpenVPN Connect Client for Windows supports configuration of multiple connection profiles — which means switching between different offices is quick and easy.
- OpenVPN Connect Client for Windows and Access Server support a special connection profile called auto-login; this allows users to connect without needing to enter a username/password. Authentication is solely based on security certificates. This can speed up the connection setup when the Captioner needs to redirect to a different facility to minimize caption loss.
That’s the solution they need. That’s Access Server.
So how can you get started?