Site-to-Site VPN: A Complete Guide

11/19/2022

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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 share resources and information. Multiple-office corporations and government organizations frequently use 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 most site-to-site VPNs fall under this category. However, unlike other WAN kinds, a site-to-site VPN joins many LANs with a secure VPN tunnel.

We hope the information on this page will help you better understand how this works and how things should be set up to start working.

Types of site-to-site VPN

Site-to-site VPNs come in two main varieties.

Intranet

Multiple sites are connected by an intranet site-to-site VPN using secure gateways. This approach, where a business network can be expanded to incorporate many LANs, is the one we mentioned.

Extranet

A site-to-site extranet VPN connects sites via a VPN connection, but it restricts each site’s resources. An extranet system, for instance, could be used by a business to create a site-to-site VPN network with another company in order to share resources for a single project. Only specific files and resources would then be freely available to the other site as a result.

What It Appears To Be

The purpose of site-to-site VPNs is to link complete networks, typically from different locations. Traffic is routed between the two site-to-site VPN tunnels to make them function.

A site-to-site VPN, for example, can be used to link all of an organization’s offices, such as those in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York, and to secure site-to-site connectivity between them all. As a result, users can communicate data and information from disparate locations in a single, secure network (WAN) created by the VPN. The daily tasks they perform at work are mostly unchanged for users.

Users of site-to-site VPNs don’t need to have any VPN software installed on their computers to safeguard their data; all they need to do is connect to the “site” (the network). This is possible because site-to-site VPNs encrypt data at a gateway.

In contrast, a remote access VPN is not like this. A remote access VPN is almost probably what you use if you have one at home. You must open the application (client), log in, and leave it running as long as you need it to function.

Therefore, by using a site-to-site VPN, you spare the IT team the laborious task of manually installing software on each device requiring security. Employees won’t “see” the VPN or need to execute any apps while using an extranet site-to-site; the only distinction is that only certain information is exchanged between the sites.

How It Functions

You’re out in the open when you typically access the internet using a conventional connection—wired or wireless—through a router. Think of different data, users, and networks capable of interacting with one another. Although this isn’t a concern in and of itself, there are serious gaps in protections. Businesses used VPNs to secure themselves in the beginning, and they still do so today.

The “tunnel” between the two networks is how it functions. These tunnels move from one location to another with a site-to-site VPN, and the only individuals who can see the data being transported are users who are logged into the network.

Every location has a gateway that the VPN utilizes to encrypt all incoming and outgoing traffic. At the gateway, which is exclusively in charge of safeguarding the data and transmitting it over the tunnel to the other side, all traffic (data) must be encrypted.

Data packets are transferred to the target host once inbound traffic has been received and encrypted, such as when a worker receives confidential client information. The data is inaccessible and the tunnel is unavailable thanks to this encryption and decryption procedure, keeping hackers and other cybercriminals out and preventing any other potential bad actors in the “ocean” from taking advantage.

Advantages of a Site-to-Site VPN

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

  • 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.
  • Simplified sharing of resources. Even though most WANs have this benefit, it’s important to note it here. Employees from different sites can 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.
  • Simple onboarding.  This system’s independence from the client/server model is one of its advantages. All users connected to a corporate 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 operating systems and hardware are incompatible with VPN software, a non-client approach also helps.

Disadvantages of Site-to-Site VPN

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

  • Unsuitable for working remotely. Remote work has become significantly more commonplace since 2020. Because of this, many people operate from places like their homes or coworking spaces, where they lack access to a dedicated VPN gateway. The same holds for any company that employs independent contractors who infrequently have physical access to the sites to which the VPN connects.
  • 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 decrypted and transmitted to a specific device on a site, it could be exposed because 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 typically encrypted.
  • Decentralized implementation and administration. Most businesses choose systems that can be deployed and managed from a single control point, even if many are implementing VPN solutions to improve security. Security and technical troubleshooting are enhanced by centralized management. Centralized management is made more difficult because separate teams in various locations set up and maintain site-to-site VPNs.

Making a Site-to-Site VPN: Instructions

Choosing a method to protect the data from hackers and deciding how you want the data to be moved from one site to the next are both necessary steps in setting up a site-to-site VPN. A multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) site-to-site VPN or an internet-based site-to-site VPN can be used.

Making a Site-to-Site VPN via the Internet

An internet-based site-to-site VPN uses both the organization’s current network and the general internet. A VPN gateway is required to set up an internet-based site-to-site VPN since it encrypts the data transfer.

You build a tunnel between two networks to create an internet-based site-to-site VPN, and you need three things to do this:

  1. a fixed network in one place
  2. a satellite network at another site
  3. a tunnel with entrances for security on both ends

A physical internet connection is either “burrowed through” by the tunnel or it is placed on top of it. However, the tunnel prevents users of the physical network from accessing the traffic that is passing over it. You must install a gateway at each location in order to set it up. The data will be encrypted at the first gateway it encounters when it enters the tunnel. Each data packet is protected by encryption against users, hardware, and software that could try to tamper with, steal, or compromise it in any other way. 

The other gateway is encountered as the data approaches its final destination. This decrypts the data to enable reading by the network on the opposite side. Entities in the physical internet cannot read encrypted data that it must pass through. Without a second gateway to decrypt the data for the receiving network, it will stay inaccessible.

The network access server and a secure access service edge request credentials before giving access to the VPN. Another option is to employ a firewall, which creates a strong barrier between the private network of the company and the wider internet. The type of traffic that is permitted to pass through the firewalls can be limited.

Setting up an MPLS Site-to-Site VPN

Organizations looking to transport data between two locations may find MPLS to be a beneficial tool. Instead of the organization using the VPN, an MPLS site-to-site VPN relies on infrastructure that is made available by the VPN provider. Making VPN connections between the main site and the satellite sites is part of configuring an MPLS VPN.

Instead of using IP addresses, MPLS uses labels to direct data packets where they need to go. Nodes are made to decode the labels and transmit the data packets directly to their intended recipient. You can establish direct links between the nodes as a result.

Direct data routing from location A to location B is possible while setting up an MPLS site-to-site VPN. The information may travel across the entire nation in a typical data exchange employing IP addresses before it eventually reaches its destination.

For instance, data could travel from Utah to Las Vegas rather than coming directly from Los Angeles. MPLS prevents additional routing.

You must establish a broadband IP network, which will act as the MPLS network’s backbone, before developing an MPLS site-to-site VPN. The company must then provide an MPLS-compatible switch that links to a router for each site.

As a result, MPLS can send the data that traverses the switch. When a data packet from location A enters the switch, MPLS encrypts it. It then travels to the router at location A before going directly to it and switching to position B.

What distinguishes a site-to-site VPN from a VPN?

Site-to-site VPNs are generally utilized as a business network solution, and remote access VPNs are included under the umbrella term of VPN (often the choice of individual consumers).

How does a VPN affect the speed of the internet?

Does a VPN cause your internet to lag? Yes, however, a solid VPN  only slightly slows down your connection.

With premium VPNs, the VPN passthrough is quick enough to prevent a negative impact on your online experience.

Business Benefit From A Remote Access VPN

You might spend money on a VPN based on remote access if your top priority right now is safeguarding the data handled by remote employees.

As we just noted, a remote access VPN functions similarly to a site-to-site VPN, but, as its name suggests, it can be used from a remote location. Secure access service edge (SASE), a platform targeted at businesses that store a lot of their data in the cloud, combines remote access VPNs with security features found in a corporate firewall, such as threat hunting and detection, next-generation antivirus, and more.

If you’re worried about company data being handled remotely, the best option for managing a remote workforce today and in the future is to invest in a SASE system. It will provide you with all the advantages of your office network security through the cloud.

Site-to-site VPNs work best for companies with several offices, and remote access VPNs work best for companies with remote employees, and a combination of the two works best for firms with both.

Best Two-Factor Authentication Software

The top two-factor authentication applications for Android and iOS are listed here for you to download in order to protect your online accounts.

Conclusion

A site-to-site VPN is one of the greatest ways to ensure that sensitive data is kept secure. It offers complete defense against hacker attempts. Additionally, it aids in defending against malware assaults. This article described the operation of a site-to-site VPN.

After reading this essay, we hope you will clearly understand what site-to-site is and how it functions.