These days, your equipment is connected. Your machinery is more likely to be online than ever before. All kinds of devices in the field are now part of the Internet of Things, relying valuable data about their functions, their current state, important alerts, and if they need any specific service or refills.
This allows for incredible new efficiencies and data tracking…but it also introduces new security risks. Smart sensors, smart security systems, and related IoT devices provide a lot of useful information, but they can struggle to protect themselves. And if someone can hack into those sensors, they may also have a route through which to attack company computers and networks, eventually reaching valuable information. That’s not good news for companies trying to protect against data theft or deliberate cyber-attacks.
Enter the industrial VPN. Ordinary VPNs (virtual private networks) create a protected network through which data can pass, but which prevents spying and hacking attempts to preserve privacy, usually through a combination of firewalls and encryption. You can learn more about the process here if want to understand how the VPN creates a safe “tunnel” for data to pass through. These networks have a lot of applications for both business and personal users: The industrial version of a VPN simply expands the concept to apply to any equipment that can also connect to a network, especially equipment that may otherwise be difficult to protect, like devices being used out in the field.
While industrial VPNs can come in a variety of shapes, they typically require a specialized router. This router device that’s designed to facilitate connections across a broad area – say, a warehouse or factory. These routers usually have multiple connection options for networks so that companies can choose the connection option that works best for them. However, wireless connections of varying kinds tend to be the most popular, especially if companies have a broad array of devices they need to connect.
Importantly, these industrial VPNs are also typically managed via a provider, usually through cloud services. That means that data can be collected and monitored from their own dedicated servers, taking a lot of the work of the hands of the industrial company itself. This is a boon to companies that need a robust solution like this, but aren’t ready to set up and manage their own servers or VPN.
Partnering with a VPN provider also provides additional benefits for security, data management, data protection, and more: Let’s take a closer look at those benefits.
Industrial VPN Advantages
Strong Security – and Frequent Security Update: An industrial VPN needs to be as secure as possible to stay competitive. A trustworthy provider will make sure that the VPN security is top notch, using the latest techniques to secure connections and protect data from any unauthorized eyes. And because the security landscape is always changing, good industrial VPNs also include plans for future security updates and patches to continue making their networks and devices safe. This means the company using the VPN doesn’t have to worry about staying on top of every security vulnerability in the news.
Easy Setup: Industrial VPN providers understand that the companies they partner with are highly goal-oriented and primarily focused on their own tasks – which means they have little time to learn all-new systems or set up complicated devices. Fortunately, industrial VPNs focus on using routers that are incredibly easy to connect to existing networks and set up nearly anywhere, often with just a push of a button. This reduces the amount of retraining needed and helps establish VPN security very quickly whenever necessary.
Guaranteed Industrial Durability: VPN routers aren’t just simply to set up and connect: They are also very durable, typically protect by strong metal frames and resistant to vibration. The routers also typically come with a variety of mounting options so they can be secured nearly anywhere indoors. This helps businesses pinpoint the right location for the router so that it can provide maximum coverage to surrounding devices.
Multiple Connection Options for Your Equipment: Like traditional routers, industrial VPN routers come with multiple connection options so that companies can find the right connections for their equipment. There are a few different ways to set up the wireless network and connect to the VPN cloud with 3G or 4G (and, eventually, 5G) connections, and the provider can help companies figure out which option is best for them. Routers also have wired connection options, including serial ports for certain types of industrial equipment, Ethernet ports, and USB ports for connecting extra storage or devices.
Full Access Control: An industrial VPN may manage data via the cloud, but it access control in the hands of the company. Companies are able to create their own user lists with varying levels of access to data, based on their specific security needs. Administrators can assign or change access as needed, giving only administrator control to specific people while allowing others only cursory access to data as needed to do their jobs.
Helpful IT and Data Management: Using an industrial VPN means that a whole lot of data is going to pass through a leased cloud. Fortunately, good industrial VPNs work with companies to find the best way to manage data this way – including what data must be protected by the VPN, how data should be stored, and how data will be used or routed in the future. The result is that setting up an industrial VPN can also be a useful IT consultation that can help businesses make important decisions about their data.
Little to No Downtime: Industrial VPNs are designed to work 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, with redundancies to ensure that servers remain up no matter what (in addition to environmental controls to ensure physical protection). If something does go wrong, then downtime tends to be brief and quickly corrected. That means companies always have access to their data.
Better Bandwidth: Industrial VPNs and routers can be surprisingly versatile, able to create and monitor multiple overlying networks. This can help increase bandwidth when necessary and avoid slowdowns and similar issues. It can also help businesses set up individual networks for specific device requirements, such as 3G and 4G networks operating at the same time.
Quick Troubleshooting for Problems: Many industrial VPN services also offering monitoring and alerts as part of their services. They can quickly contact the company and let it know if there appears to be any problem with connected equipment or data transfer. The scope of these services can vary, but it’s a nice option for businesses that could benefit from an extra layer of awareness for their operations.