Remote network access using VPN

Published : Tuesday 16 May 2006

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Have you ever wished you could access your office network or computer from home or do you have multiple premises operating separate networks? If so a Virtual Private Network (VPN) could be for you.

In this article we’ll give an introduction to the world of Virtual Private Networking.

What is a VPN?

A Virtual Private Network (more commonly referred to as VPN for short) is a secure private network that makes use of the public network infrastructure and tunneling protocols to communicate on a secure channel.

Essentially your private Local Area Network (LAN) is connected to the internet which is then used to send traffic to another location using various security and encryption protocols.

How can it be used?

With the increasing availability of broadband internet and internet bandwidth VPN’s can be utilized in various ways to bring numerous benefits to your home or business.

  • Connecting geographically remote LAN’s
  • Consolidate and share network resources across multiple remote locations e.g. servers, printers, intranet’s
  • Grant users remote access to local infrastructure
  • Enable home and off site working
  • Accessing your home or office PC’s remotely e.g. remote desktop

What do I need?

There are two main topologies to consider when thinking about VPN :


Where two remote locations / routers are connected.

Depending on your setup your requirements will be slightly different. For a site to site setup you would typically need:

  • Ideally a fixed IP address in both locations
  • Two VPN routers or VPN firewall’s
  • Broadband internet connection at both locations
  • In a User-site setup you would need


An individual user is connecting to a LAN

  • One fixed IP address for the site.
  • One VPN router or VPN firewall.
  • Broadband internet connection at the site
  • Good user internet connection
  • and possibly VPN software.

How much will it cost?

Apart from the obvious need for internet connections the cost of a simpler solution suited to small to medium businesses is usually minimal and there are numerous sub £100 VPN firewall routers available on the market.

Fixed IP addresses are available from most good Internet Service Providers although sometimes they are restricted to business broadband accounts and/or are charged as extras.

If you require more advanced control over users and security then you may need to look at more powerful VPN solutions (for example Microsoft ISA Server).

Getting started

The purpose of this article is to raise the awareness of Virtual Private Networking and the details of it’s implementation are beyond the scope however we have identified various useful links below including a more detailed VPN tutorial from


Many home and small to medium business users aren’t aware of the Virtual Private Networking or their benefits but in their simplest form they are both accessible and affordable to most users. Why not investigate further to see if your business could realize the benefits of Virtual Private Networking.

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