What Is the Difference between a Self-Hosted VPN Solution and a VPN-as-a-Service Solution?

Image of a laptop on a table with a lock on the screen and the word "secured" written underneath.
Do you know whether to use a self-hosted or VPN-as-a-Service solution for your business?
Source: Pixabay

Cyberattacks are on the rise, and they continue to be a nuisance for many businesses worldwide. Using a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt and hide your network traffic is one good solution to combat cyberattacks. The difficult part is choosing between a self-hosted VPN solution or a VPN-as-a-Service (VaaS) solution.

In this article, I’ll talk about what these two technologies are and how you can decide which one is the right solution for your business. Before delving deeper, let’s first briefly learn what a VPN is.

What Is a VPN?

A VPN is an intermediary connection that enables you to encrypt your data. It also provides you with an IP address to help hide your “real” one. Additionally, you can use a VPN hosted in other countries if you want access to services specific to those countries.

Businesses use VPNs for two reasons. The first is to allow remote workers to access a secure network as if they were on-site, and the second is to encrypt data.

For remote access purposes, you should also add some form of multi-factor authentication (MFA) to help ensure users are who they say they are. Some of the best MFA methods include SMS, mobile authentication, or a security key that never connects to other systems.

Next, let’s look at how VPNs keep you safe with data encryption!

How VPNs Keep You Safe

Image of a laptop with a red padlock on the screen with a background of numbers.
Sniffing packets will reveal gibberish for encoded data!
SOURCE: Wikimedia

VPNs create an encrypted tunnel between you and your destination. This tunnel can help hide your data packets’ contents. Generally, data packets consist of a header, body, and footer. And when you send them out, only the packet body is encrypted.

However, if you use endpoint protection, you can encrypt the whole data packet. If you don’t use endpoint protection, cyberattackers can’t see your encrypted data, but they can learn about its destination. This lets them know who you’re conducting business with, your suppliers, etc. In short, if you have to get a VPN solution, always get one with endpoint protection capabilities.

In addition, consider getting a VPN solution that offers a no-log feature. This feature is important because, without it, a cyberattacker can use your logs for the same malicious intent as mentioned previously. Ensure that the VPN solution you go with offers both endpoint protection and no-log features.

One final way a VPN can help keep you safe is through its encryption key. VPN solutions send these keys to your destination first. Then, the solution encrypts your data packet bodies. When the data packets reach their destination, the encryption key decrypts them. Therefore, when looking for a VPN solution, you should look for one with the highest bit encryption. The larger the bit number, the more difficult it is to crack. Typically, 256-bit encryption is more than satisfactory as it’s the military standard.

Now that you understand how a VPN solution can help keep you safe, let’s look at a self-hosted VPN.

What Is a Self-Hosted VPN Solution?

Image of a server room.
Add a few cabinets and you’re done right?

VPNs require a VPN server to work. You can remotely host these servers, or they can be on-site. Servers from a remote VPN service provider are typically high-profile targets for cybercriminals. Governments can also monitor these servers. 

Self-hosted VPNs give you complete control over the server. You might require a vendor to assist you with self-hosting, but the hardware is your own. To clarify, you can use your existing hardware to have an on-prem VPN server. Additionally, a self-hosted VPN allows you to have control of your server’s session logging as well as its security.

One big disadvantage of using a self-hosted VPN solution includes the issue of maintenance since you’re using your hardware, after all. Another drawback is that this solution might not give you the same level of anonymity as a solution hosted by a service provider.

Now, let’s talk about VPNs-as-a-Service!

What Is a VPN-as-a-Service Solution?

A VPN-as-a-Service solution is often a subscription-based service that allows businesses to use a hosted cloud VPN solution. One benefit is that you don’t need to invest in any infrastructure or resources to implement and maintain this solution. You can also scale this solution based on the number of terminals, or users, you need. Moreover, you can manage all your VPN connections from a centralized dashboard from anywhere around the world.

Drawbacks can include shared server hardware, yet some VPN providers offer separate racks in some offerings. In short, this helps ensure your bandwidth never causes a bottleneck from external users. That said, modern VPN providers do use automatic bandwidth optimization to provide the speed and continuity users expect.

Now that you know your options, which one is right for you?

Which VPN Solution Is Best for Your Business?

Every business is different in size, growth, and security needs. For instance, your business could be a vendor for a manufacturing company that creates military products. In that case, having a self-hosted on-premise VPN might be a good idea, depending on the de-facto industry standards vendors should meet. Conversely, you can also use a cloud-based VPN service that offers endpoint protection and a no-log policy. In this scenario, you often need the VPN provider based inside the same country you’re operating in.

No matter what VPN solution you deem acceptable to your business’s security policies, it’s important to get one that offers endpoint protection and a no-log policy. Using MFA for remote workers is also recommended.

Let’s have a quick recap.

Final Thoughts

Self-hosted VPN solutions provide you with the best level of security as you’re in control of connection logs, encryption, and users. For the price of this confidence in your VPN, you need to invest in infrastructure and resources to add and maintain the self-hosted solution. 

For smaller businesses that require data encryption, but aren’t worried about being a high-profile target, a VPN-as-a-Service provides the best solution. Cloud solutions offer a convenient way of scaling your solution as your business grows.

That said, always use a VPN solution that offers endpoint protection and no-log policy features.

Do you have more questions about self-hosted VPNs and VPNs-as-a-Service? Check out the FAQ and Resources sections below!


Should I use a self-hosted VPN solution?

Using a self-hosted VPN solution requires the resources to run and maintain it. A self-hosted solution provides you with complete control over session logs and security. In turn, this can stop cybercriminals from monitoring your data. Overall, a self-hosted VPN solution is best suited for companies working on offerings requiring stringent security measures. One example is a company producing military products.

What is a VPN-as-a-Service (VaaS)?

A VPN-as-a-Service is a cloud-based VPN solution that requires users to install a client to access it. This solution is subscription-based, which allows it to scale with your business. Using one with a no-log policy and endpoint protection is highly recommended.

What do I need to consider when selecting a VPN service?

Selecting a VPN service principally revolves around the bit encryption used. Overall, 256-bit encryption is the military standard and therefore recommended. Additionally, look for a solution that offers a no-log policy and endpoint protection features. These features reduce the data cybercriminals will have access to on the VPN server.

Do I need multi-factor authentication (MFA) with my VPN solution?

A VPN encrypts data in transit between your network’s endpoints, but it doesn’t verify the user. Improve your overall security for your remote workers by implementing MFA with your VPN solution. If you can, avoid mobile-based verification methods. Instead, opt for security keys that don’t have wireless connectivity. These keys are harder to bypass for cyberattackers.

Why is endpoint protection so important?

Endpoint protection works by having the initiator of the VPN connection send a private encryption key to the destination. This feature ensures that the VPN server never decrypts your data while in transit.


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