A site-to-site VPN: What is it? What it does

December 5, 2022
site to site vpn
Businesses with several locations can connect via site-to-site VPNs, enabling secure file sharing. This article will describe the operation of a site-to-site VPN, how it varies from other VPN types, and whether or not it is appropriate for your company.

A site-to-site VPN: What is it?

Local area networks (LANs) in various places can be connected via a site-to-site virtual private network (VPN) via the open internet. Employees at many locations can safely exchange resources and information. Multiple-office corporations and government organisations frequently employ this technology.

In essence, site-to-site VPNs are tools for building safe wide area networks, or WANs. A WAN is any network of linked LANs, and the majority of site-to-site VPNs fall under this category. However, a site-to-site VPN joins many LANs via a secure VPN tunnel, unlike other WAN kinds.

site-to-site VPN

A site-to-site VPN’s method of operation

Two or more LANs are connected in various places to form a site-to-site VPN (two offices in two different cities, for example).

Consider a workplace in City A where several employees are utilising a range of technology, including laptops, tablets, printers, and servers. The business wants equipment at both locations to be able to securely connect. The firm has another office in City B, which is on the opposite side of the nation. A site-to-site VPN is decided to be set up. What follows is what?

A VPN connection is established by the firm between the gateways at the two offices. These gateways will really be internet routers configured to encrypt data as it goes through them. Data is designed to be sent from the gateway in the City A office to the gateway in the City B office and vice versa. Information is encrypted and transmitted to its intended destination anywhere on the LAN once it is received at one of the gateways.

This is how the procedure actually seems. Let’s call the employee Joe from City A office who needs to access data from City B office’s database Joe. Joe connects to the City A VPN gateway and queries the City B database. The request is encrypted throughout its transfer between offices, after which it is decoded and sent to the City B database. The database uses the City B gateway to transmit the required data back. It passes through the unencrypted City A gateway and the encrypted tunnel before being sent to Joe’s device.

Remote access VPN versus site-to-site VPN

A site-to-site virtual private network is distinct from a remote access VPN. The most popular sort of consumer virtual private network, the kind you may use on your phone or laptop for daily privacy, is a remote access VPN.

Client/server architecture is used by remote access VPNs. The client is a programme that is downloaded to your device and routes your internet traffic through a server, encrypting your data in transit. This is a practical method for safeguarding your online privacy, hiding the IP addresses of your devices, and reducing the danger of man-in-the-middle attacks.

Site-to-site There is no client/server paradigm used by VPNs. A user doesn’t need to have a client on their device as long as they transmit and receive information over their VPN gateway since an encrypted tunnel runs between the gateways at each location.

Of course, corporations and bigger organisations can also employ remote access VPNs. The corporate server that houses data and other network resources may be accessed by employees via a client on their device, for example. Site-to-site and remote access VPNs are both often used in businesses.

Advantages of a site-to-site VPN

Site-to-site VPNs have several advantages for businesses of all sizes.

  1. Improved data protection. Data security is a site-to-site VPN’s main advantage. Information is encrypted as it passes between the gateways (this is the encrypted VPN tunnel we previously mentioned). Thus, if data is captured by malicious parties while being sent across sites, it will only be accessible to them as incomprehensible code.
  2. Simplified sharing of resources. Even though most WANs have this benefit, it’s important to note it here. Employees from different sites may interact, share resources, and access sensitive data securely with the help of a site-to-site VPN. As long as all members of a distributed workforce have access to the locations where the gateways are installed, it’s a terrific approach to preserve synergy across the workforce.
  3. Simple onboarding This system’s independence from the client/server approach is one advantage. All users connected to a business network can start taking advantage of the aforementioned data security by just connecting to the VPN gateway rather than being required to install particular client software on their devices. When specific operating systems and hardware are incompatible with VPN software, using a non-client approach also helps.


Site-to-site VPNs’ limitations

Some firms could find site-to-site VPNs to be undesirable due to their restrictions.

  1. Unsuitable for working remotely. Remote employment has become significantly more commonplace since 2020. Because of this, a lot of people operate from places like their homes or coworking spaces, where they lack access to a dedicated VPN gateway. The same holds true for any company that employs independent contractors, who infrequently have physical access to the sites to which the VPN connects.
  2. Limited privacy and security. A site-to-site VPN only secures data while it moves between gateways, regardless of how secure your VPN protocols are. Once information is encrypted and transmitted to a specific device on a site, it might be exposed since the LANs on either side of such gateways aren’t always secure from hackers and eavesdroppers. Client/server VPNs offer an advantage in this situation since data moving to and from specific client-installed devices is often encrypted.
  3. Decentralized implementation and administration. The majority of businesses choose systems that can be deployed and controlled from a single control point, even if many are implementing VPN solutions to improve security. The security and technical troubleshooting are enhanced by centralised management. Centralized administration is made more difficult by the fact that separate teams in various locations set up and maintain site-to-site VPNs.