Consumer VPNs and enterprise VPNs are not the same. They both provide virtual private networks, but they have markedly different use cases. The features you need in a business VPN aren't on a consumer's VPN shopping list. A consumer looks for a desktop or mobile app. They want secure, encrypted tunnels to hide their IP address and network traffic while browsing the web at home or in public settings.
Consumer VPNs shield users’ online activity from their Internet Service Providers (ISPs). And using a consumer VPN service makes it safer to access online banking, telehealth, payment card information, or other web portals that access, authenticate, or exchange data.
Consumer VPN adoption has seen a dramatic increase as of late, mostly because of concerns over online privacy. ISPs can sell your data, advertisers watch your every move, and even law enforcement takes advantage of weak encryption standards. A survey from the cybersecurity firm Malware Bytes found that 36% of consumers now regularly use VPNs, roughly a 34% jump from a decade ago. Among non-VPN users, Malwarebytes also reported that 58% of people said they were familiar with the technology.
In contrast, enterprise VPNs offer a more sophisticated, robust, and purpose-built array of features. One of the most common use cases for an enterprise VPN is providing access for remote workers.
Remote Access VPN Solution
VPN is a remote access technology that provides secure data communication for an employee or remote user connecting to their work network. Through a VPN tunnel, they access all the resources and data typically restricted to the office.
Like consumer applications, enterprise VPNs encrypt and tunnel traffic to the VPN server. The tunnel connects the employee's device to the enterprise's network and makes it part of the corporate network — providing secure access to all the services available at work. This encryption is essential for securely accessing corporate resources, especially for employees connecting from their home ISP, or public WiFi. Networks at coffee shops and hotels are higher-risk connections without a VPN. Remote users are particularly vulnerable to man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks and data breaches that enable eavesdropping on poorly secured networks when using public WiFi.
The vast majority of public WiFi portals, for example, implement the easily exploitable WPA2 encryption standard to secure their networks. This ubiquitous encryption protocol is susceptible to a group of vulnerabilities that researchers have dubbed "key reinstallation attacks," or KRACKs for short.
These protocol KRACKs make it trivial for adversaries to breach networks and intercept traffic. They may even steal sensitive user data like bank login credentials. When a remote worker connects to the corporate network from their local coffee shop, they protect themselves and the business by using a VPN connection. A quality VPN client provides an additional encryption layer over a hackable public WPA2 or even WPA3 protocol.
This added protection layer makes MITM exploitation near-impossible for the typical cyber-lurker. It’s a security best practice to teach employees ways to mitigate risks. More determined and persistent threat actors will stop at nothing to uncover previously unknown vulnerabilities and penetrate networks.
Pandemic-Driven Adoption of VPNs
The COVID-19 pandemic has been the greatest single tailwind propelling enterprise VPN adoption, with 88% of IT companies migrating to work-from-home (WFH) office models last year, according to a 2020 study from consultants ResearchAndMarkets. In 2020, organizations transitioned to remote-only work environments overnight to comply with stay-at-home orders and lockdowns and for the safety of their workforce.
In the blink of an eye, a scalable and high-functioning enterprise VPN solution became essential for business continuity and mitigating the immediate revenue shock generated by the organizational interruption. During the initial outbreak, 85% of organizations relied on enterprise VPNs to sustain their operations, according to a survey of 630 IT security leaders. According to the Malwarebytes report, Google searches for the terms "virtual private network" hit an all-time high in March of 2020. Between March 8 and March 22, 2020 alone, VPN usage in the U.S. increased by a staggering 124%, according to another study by an OpenVPN competitor.
ResearchAndMarkets also reported that as of March 2020, 72% of the firms they surveyed intend to "shift a portion of their staff permanently to a WFH model." Furthermore, another 70% of companies plan to "permanently offload over 35% of their workforce to WFH roles to reduce worker density at offices," according to the ResearchAndMarkets study.
In the U.S., the report said that 35-to-40% of employees would have multiple WFH days per week by the end of this year. Uncertainty around when it’s safe to fully return to offices around the world suggests that the WFH phenomenon may be an enduring trend for the global enterprise. A recent survey of 9,000 people conducted by Slack's Future Forum found that a third of respondents didn't want to return to their offices in the wake of the pandemic.
As more and more companies embrace remote work, enterprise VPNs will become an essential component of their productivity. Fifty percent of the IT and security leaders queried by NetMotion last Summer affirmed this notion, anticipating that "their company's VPN usage would continue well into 2023 and beyond."
In the last year, hackers have exploited security flaws in numerous traditional VPN providers. With enterprise VPNs becoming mission-critical, it's important to remember that not all VPN solutions are created equal. OpenVPN is one trusted vendor that offers enterprise customers multiple solutions to empower them with complete control of their network security.
Who is OpenVPN?
OpenVPN is a leading global private networking and cybersecurity company that allows organizations to truly safeguard their assets in a dynamic, cost-effective, and scalable way. Our self-hosted and cloud-based platforms enable you to quickly and easily connect private networks, devices, and servers to build a secure, virtualized modern internet. We're the easy button for securing your business.
The days of VPN as purely remote access are gone. Modern network architecture requires room for contemporary approaches to sit on top of a private networking foundation. SASE, Zero Trust Security, and SDNs are not replacements for VPNs — but are instead fueled by them.
As an example, OpenVPN Cloud leverages a shared resources model, vertical integration of technology, and a focus on delivering dynamic access control. This allows you to drive down costs, secure your business at scale, and provide a seamless experience for your team (no matter the size). No longer are you relegated to dealing with clunky, rigid, and expensive network architecture.
OpenVPN is recognized as a leader in virtual private networking by Fortune 500 companies and small businesses alike, across the globe. With tens of thousands of business customers, OpenVPN is changing the way the world thinks about VPNs. With roots in Silicon Valley and products used around the world, the company was founded by storied technology leaders with a passion for a safe and secure internet.
Which of our enterprise VPN products are right for you? Let’s detail OpenVPN Access Server, our popular self-hosted solution, and OpenVPN Cloud, our OpenVPN-as-a-Service. You can also see a comparison chart of the two products here: Access Server or OpenVPN Cloud.
OpenVPN Access Server
OpenVPN Access Server is our self-hosted software VPN server. Our business customers deploy Access Server on their network infrastructure. These self-hosted servers can be physical or virtual, on-premise (on-prem) or in the cloud.
This self-hosted application can be deployed as a do-it-yourself (DIY) option on one of your Linux servers, or launched on a virtual private server with your cloud provider, whether that’s Amazon Web Services, Azure, Google Cloud, DigitalOcean, or Oracle. Access Server enables you to customize access control for your employees to meet precise network security requirements.
Administrators can define access control by IP address, protocol, or port. Access Server also integrates with multiple authentication schemes, including multi-factor authentication, RADIUS, Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP), Active Directory, Privileged Access Management (PAM), and Google MFA.
Our VPN client, OpenVPN Connect, is available for mobile devices (Android, iOS) and multiple operating systems, such as: Mac, Linux, and Windows devices.
Access Server covers five primary use cases:
- Provides employees with secure access to enterprise servers in any environment where they may exist, on-prem or in the cloud.
- Offers customers site-to-site connectivity using OpenVPN protocol-compatible routers to bridge disparate enterprise networks and public cloud environments.
- Protects remote desktop and screen sharing protocols with strong authentication and network access controls.
- Offers robust encryption protocols to securely encrypt data transmitted by point-of-sale transactions and telemetry signals.
- Enforces zero trust access through identity-driven policies, strong authentication, strict destination controls, and access control lists.
If Access Server doesn't fit the needs of your enterprise, OpenVPn Cloud, our OpenVPN-as-a-service offering, may be a more user-friendly option. For SMBs and divisions within large enterprises, the OpenVPN-managed cloud solution allows you to safeguard your resources in a controlled, adaptive, and scalable manner, while complementing and extending the value of your current network strategy — all at a fraction of the cost and provisioning of other approaches and without the headache that comes with legacy VPNs focused purely on remote access and connecting resources. With security features like unique domain routing and DNS-based content filtering you get an elegant, secure solution that can both scale to the largest global networks, and is designed with the cost and simplicity required by small and mid-sized businesses alike. All with end-to-end visibility across your networks.
The OpenVPN Cloud mesh is distributed globally, with connection hubs in the U.S., Canada, Brazil, South Africa, and over a dozen other countries in Europe, Australia, and Asia. You can deploy OpenVPN Cloud via multi-site, user-to-site, or user-to-user network delivery channels for private networks.
OpenVPN Cloud can help you secure your connected devices or VoIP nodes across private networks, whether on-premise or in the cloud. OpenVPN Cloud can also secure P2P, IoT, and VoIP device control via its device-to-device configuration.
Deploy OpenVPN Cloud to secure cloud resources, enhancing the security of virtual private cloud (VPC) networks across disparate office locations. OpenVPN Cloud can also satisfy the needs of user-to-cloud networking applications, providing end users with remote access to services localized in IaaS repositories.
Secure your business with an enterprise VPN
Deployable as a self-hosted server or serverless and out-of-the-box, cloud-native solution OpenVPN products are adaptive, next-generation networking tools for the modern enterprise. In the pandemic era, there is no turning back to the way things were. Digital transformation and remote offices have become ubiquitous and inescapable.
It follows that organizations need secure networking technologies to protect their critical digital assets from an attack surface that has grown exponentially with the rise of remote work. As the world outside the office becomes more technologically advanced, employees bring home their devices and connect them to employer networks. This can cause security risks like ransomware or distributed denial of service (DDoS) exploits. OpenVPN is an intuitive and customizable solution that can help keep enterprises operational and secure from MITM exploits and other breaches of network integrity. Whether on-prem or in the cloud, self-hosted or serverless, OpenVPN has the resilience, agility, and infrastructure to help enterprises of all sizes network securely and at scale, anywhere in the world.