Businesses today rely on technology to run their operations efficiently, and they often choose between a leased line and a VPN to maintain their connections. Both options come with security concerns that businesses must consider when deciding.
Privacy and data accessibility are crucial considerations for companies, making it challenging to determine which option is best for their business. To make an informed choice, it’s important to understand the differences between a leased line and a VPN.
Differences Between Leased Line And VPN
A leased line offers a dedicated connection with ample bandwidth but usually lacks encryption and authentication. On the other hand, a VPN provides a secure connection through encryption and authentication over an existing connection, whether it’s a leased line, an ADSL connection, or a mobile network. The amount of bandwidth you need determines the need for a leased line, while the level of security required determines the need for a VPN.
VPNs are less costly than leased lines, but this comparison is not always meaningful. Businesses may use leased lines for connecting their major offices, forming a wide-area network. Some of these businesses then run a VPN over the leased lines to encrypt the data transfer between their sites by implementing firewalls at each office. To allow remote work, businesses can provide employees with remote access to the office network through an SSL VPN service or IPsec VPN software. The employees can then connect to the corporate network through regular Internet connections, such as consumer broadband from ISPs.
The cost factor may come into play when considering VPN vs leased line options, especially when providing remote access to many employees, as leasing lines for each may be prohibitively expensive. In such cases, providing VPN access over a cheaper broadband connection is the more practical option. The same applies when linking a UK office to an international site, where international leased lines are often too expensive. Instead, companies opt for local Internet access in each country and use a VPN to secure the data transfer between international sites.
VPN and Leased Lines are two distinct technologies that solve different problems. While VPN is specifically designed for security, providing encryption and authentication for data transmissions, Leased Line is meant for connectivity, offering high-speed and reliable data transfer.
VPN encrypts data during transmission, making it unreadable to unauthorized parties, and ensures that the communicating parties are authorized. On the other hand, Leased Line provides faster and more reliable data transfer, with higher bandwidth and low latency than broadband connections. It also offers unmetered data transfer and the option to prioritize time-sensitive traffic.
In summary, businesses should choose a VPN if they prioritize security, while Leased Line is better for those requiring high-speed and reliable connectivity.
Leased Line Security Risks
Wiretapping of office building communication equipment is a high-risk strategy and is only likely to occur if the company is a high-value target. Tapping into the leased line circuits at maintenance holes requires technical expertise and is challenging to carry out successfully.
Monitoring international traffic at undersea cable landing stations is a concern for non-UK firms competing against UK/US firms for multi-billion dollar contracts.
Hacking the leased line provider requires specialist knowledge to control the routers. A distributed denial of service attack on the public IP addresses of the leased line hardware can disrupt the service but requires significant resources from the attacker.
Accidental disconnections during street work can be guarded against by installing multiple links from different carriers. Intentional disconnections of the physical circuit can cause short-term disruption but are unlikely to be prioritized as it affects many other customer circuits and would trigger an alarm.
VPN Security Risks
PPTP has known security weaknesses, making it a vulnerable VPN technology. SSL VPNs, though popular, can be vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks if not properly configured. VPN appliances can contain unpatched software flaws, leaving them open to potential attacks until patches are applied. Home networks and personal devices used for VPN access may also pose security risks due to insufficient patching or insecure configurations. The VPN connection depends on underlying connectivity and, if lost, will affect business processes that rely on it. Additionally, network congestion can lead to a degradation in VPN service and partial loss of capacity.
Security Measures To Avoid Risks
You can implement various security measures to mitigate security risks and maintain the confidentiality of your business data. Here are some options to consider.
- Using a VPN for data encryption is advisable as it provides practical protection for your confidential information, even though it may not be a perfect solution in theory.
- When transmitting data between your offices and remote employees, it’s important to utilize VPN encryption to safeguard against any security vulnerabilities that may arise from the remote worker’s network.
- To enhance the security of your business data and avoid the risks associated with a leased line, it is recommended to have two separate network connections with varying routes. It provides resiliency to your connection, especially if one connection goes down. If your business relies heavily on the internet, it is crucial to have a backup option.
- It is also important to maintain strong passwords and regularly change them to deter potential attackers. Although it may be inconvenient for users to change their passwords continuously, it is a necessary precaution.
- It is advisable to regularly monitor the login activities on your VPN connection to identify any unusual behaviour. Look for instances such as former employees logging in, managers accessing the network at unusual hours, and simultaneous logins from multiple IP addresses.
In conclusion, choosing between a leased line and a VPN for business operations depends on the company’s specific needs and priorities. Leased lines offer high-speed and reliable connections but lack encryption and authentication. On the other hand, VPNs provide encrypted and secure connections through authentication but may be less reliable.
Both options come with security concerns that businesses must consider, such as wiretapping and hacking. To mitigate security risks and maintain the confidentiality of data, it is advisable to use a VPN for encryption and implement various security measures, such as regularly changing passwords and monitoring login activities. Businesses should weigh the cost, security, and connectivity factors when deciding between a leased line or VPN and make an informed decision based on their specific requirements.