Vpn Security Risks and Best Practices

Overall, much of what has been said about VPNs is positive and makes us feel safe. The encryption offered by VPN services is an ideal solution to protect online security, along with online privacy, device security, and other benefits.

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is also great for internal workers who need to access the server from anywhere outside the office. Usually, VPN offers high-speed connections that help companies run efficiently. In addition to allowing employees to work from home or elsewhere, VPN connections can also give employees access to the internal resources they need to support company operations.

In terms of personal use, employing a VPN at home is just as crucial as installing antivirus software. A VPN’s primary function is security and anonymity, but it can also be used for other things. Most importantly, no one wants their ISP to sell their data, and using a VPN will stop that. Therefore, it would be helpful to get a VPN for your computer to ensure internet privacy.

However, a VPN is only sometimes perfect or solves every problem. Therefore, you should be aware of some dangers when using a virtual private network. Understanding these common VPN issues is essential to maintaining your or your company’s network security.

What is VPN and Why Should You Use It?

A VPN, or virtual private network, provides security between the client and the network the user needs to access. VPNs protect by encrypting data and sending it through a “tunnel.” On the other hand, if you need to access a resource or use an app at your company, you must use the company’s VPN.

See Also: PCI DSS Remote Access Requirements – What You Need to Know

VPN involves transferring encrypted data wrapped in a header containing routing information. This procedure allows data to be transported safely to its endpoint over a shared or open network.

This way, data packets transmitted over the public network cannot be read without decryption keys, ensuring that the data is not disclosed or altered during transmission.

A VPN connection appears to the user as a point-to-point link between their machine and a business server. Because the data looks to be sent through a private connection, the user is unconcerned with the public network’s characteristics.

Businesses had to safeguard their connections with the corporate network as more workers worked remotely from home or while traveling. A virtual private network (VPN) is one remedy that enables staff to communicate data securely between computers over a shared or public network.

As employees grow more mobile, VPN connections enable users to safely connect to a remote company server while working from home or traveling by utilizing the routing infrastructure offered by a public network, such as the Internet.

Corporate VPN, on the other hand, allows employees to work remotely as if they were physically in the office. This is useful when employees need to access sensitive resources that are only available on the company intranet. However, it’s important to note that corporate VPNs are designed to protect company privacy and not necessarily to protect individual privacy.

VPN Security Risks and Best Practices

VPNs are secure, but there are also security risks associated with VPNs. VPN security risks can be listed as follows:

  • Man-in-the-middle attacks where the attacker can tamper with data.
  • In a VPN hijacking scenario, an unauthorized user takes over a remote client’s VPN connection.
  • Split tunneling is where a user accesses an unsecured Internet connection while accessing a VPN connection to a private network.
  • Weak user authentication.
  • Malware infection of a client machine.
  • DNS leak where the computer uses the VPN’s default DNS connection instead of the secure DNS server.
  • Granting too many access rights.

Additionally, because VPNs function according to the trust-in-the-network principle rather than the principle of least privilege, they do not entirely guard against breaches. While VPNs are typically flexible and straightforward to manage, more secure ones are challenging to establish since it takes time for staff to adopt new security measures.

See Also: What You Need to Know About Encrypted Communication

Organizations with large numbers of remote workers may find VPN management expensive, primarily if they use a good provider. You can assume a VPN costs more money the better it is. Although VPNs can be helpful tools, their adoption can hinder a company’s efficiency.

Additionally, as was already said, VPNs trust anybody who connects to the private network, meaning that once an attacker has gained access to it, they will have complete access to an Internet connection.

Businesses should consider additional VPN security features when selecting a VPN solution to solve these concerns. These include the security features that a VPN solution that we can define as secure should have:

  • Strong encryption algorithms,
  • Strong authentication support,
  • Built-in antivirus software that can analyze traffic,
  • Intrusion detection and prevention tools,
  • Digital certificate support,
  • Strong default security for management and maintenance ports,
  • Maintaining the privacy of all other addresses while providing the ability to provide addresses to clients on a private network,
  • Logging and auditing support.

Also, having a session termination feature is a vital VPN security measure. Automatic session termination ensures that if the VPN connection is lost, the Internet connection, or the connected programs, are closed. In this way, the disclosure of the Internet address is prevented.

Security training should also be provided to network and security administrators, support personnel, and remote users to ensure they follow security best practices throughout VPN setup and ongoing use.

Another way to increase VPN security is perfect forward secrecy (PFS). If PFS is used, encrypted communications and previously recorded sessions are irreversible and cannot be unlocked if long-term secret keys or passwords are stolen.

With PFS, each VPN session employs a unique set of encryption keys, making it impossible for attackers to decrypt other VPN sessions even if they manage to obtain a key.

How Can You Choose The Most Secure VPN?

So how do you pick the safest VPN? Despite its open-source foundation, many people believe OpenVPN to be the most secure VPN protocol. It uses OpenSSL libraries for encryption, is stable and dependable, is simple to configure to run on any port, offers hardware acceleration for faster speeds, and gets beyond firewalls and network address translation (NAT). However, client software is necessary.

Strong encryption is offered by SSTP, which is also supported by all Microsoft Windows machines and is exceedingly difficult to detect and prevent. Unfortunately, not all VPN providers offer it, and there is only limited compatibility for non-Windows devices.

L2TP/IPSec is an additional safe VPN protocol. It offers robust encryption, is incorporated into most desktop and mobile operating systems without extra software, is comparatively simple to implement, and has no known severe weaknesses. However, it has firewall issues, is difficult to configure on a Linux server, and is relatively easy to block by Internet service providers.

The least secure VPN protocol is PPTP. Benefits include easy setup, broad support for most devices, and low overhead. However, it is known that there are security issues that hackers can exploit. Additionally, it has weak encryption and is relatively simple for ISPs to prohibit.

IKEv2 is supported as part of the Windows IPSec implementation, is simple to use, has a faster handshake time, and is the industry standard in terms of basic capabilities. However, bugs are still being resolved, and interoperability between different vendors is an issue.

Which VPN protocol is the best depends on the organization and the individual. Access to a secure business network via a VPN is possible via insecure public networks. While utilizing a VPN is preferable to sending unencrypted data over open networks, users who are thinking about or already using a VPN should be aware of potential security flaws.

Surkay Baykara
Surkay Baykarahttps://www.pcidssguide.com
A passionate Senior Information Security Consultant working at Cyberwise. Over the past 15+ years my professional career has included several positions beginning as a developer and IT administrator, working my way up to a senior Technical Performance Consultant before joining Biznet back in 2015. I had several different roles at Cyberwise, including Penetration Tester and PCI DSS QSA. In my job as a QSA, I found my passion and worked closely with the Audit and Compliance team. I've been working inside InfoSec for over 15 years, coming from a highly technical background. I have earned several certifications during my professional career including; CEH, CISA, CISSP, and PCI QSA.

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