When virtual private networks (VPNs) are discussed, much time is spent extolling their advantages. As such, many individuals new to them may feel uninformed about the disadvantages inherent to the technology. There are some pitfalls common to VPNs, but many people find the significant benefits of these networks worth the effort of dealing with their potential difficulties.
One disadvantage of a VPN is the fact that its deployment requires a high-level of knowledge and understanding of such factors as public network security. VPN security requires password and data encryption. Network addresses may also be encrypted for added security. To avoid security and deployment problems, planning is necessary and proper precautions should be taken.
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Another significant disadvantage is that its availability and performance are difficult to control. Typically, VPN speeds are much slower than those experienced with a traditional connection. At times, some networks appear to be a bit dicey in terms of connectivity as well. For a variety of reasons, users may have a hard time staying on the VPN from time to time. While this may be annoying, the security that it offers often outweighs the grief caused by occasional connection problems.
While it is true that VPN works with equipment from many different manufacturers, technologies from different creators may work poorly together. With time, this may improve. For now, however, this can cause frustration when implementing a VPN.
One of the VPN's weakest links may, in some cases, be its users. When a remote telecommuter or an employee connects to his or her corporate office using a VPN from a laptop or home computer, security threats may result. This is because employees or telecommuters may use their personal computers for a variety of other applications in addition to connecting to the office. As such, the corporate network may be vulnerable to attack because of security weaknesses on the employee's personal computer. For this reason, some experts recommend supplying telecommuters and employees with home computers that are company-owned and used solely for approved company purposes.