Corporate VPN vs Public VPN: Don’t confuse the two

Corporate VPN

With the spike in home working that the coronavirus crisis caused, there have been a lot of new people seeking out VPNs to protect themselves and the sensitive data they are working on.

Google searches for VPNs have risen dramatically and there are lots of newcomers seeking out a VPN for the first time.

There is lots of information about all sorts of different VPNs available on our site. But one question that seems to be cropping up more is what the difference is between a corporate VPN and a public VPN?

If you find yourself having to work from home, you might think that a corporate VPN is the right tool for you. But that is not necessarily the case and in this guide, we will explain the difference and how you decide which is right for you.

Why do business use VPNs?

The reason that businesses use a corporate VPN is quite different to why individuals sign up for a public VPN.

Corporate VPNs are tools designed to allow remote workers to connect to a company’s intranet and access any sensitive content or software that is located there. Essentially, a corporate VPN is intended to allow remote workers to access the business IT infrastructure as if they were actually sat in the office.

Corporate VPNs do also offer a level of encryption to protect the corporate IT infrastructure and any internal users from outside threats like surveillance and hacking.

Governments, civil service departments, universities, and other academic institutions will also often use a corporate VPN or something similar for their staff and students.

How is a corporate VPN different from a public VPN?

Corporate VPNs are designed to protect the privacy and online security of the company or organisation. They are not intended to protect individual users and this is a big difference.

If you are connecting to the internet via a corporate VPN, your privacy and online security may be protected from outside threats and surveillance, but nothing you do online will be private from your company.

Inside a corporate VPN, companies can monitor and record everything you do online. They are also able to restrict your access to any type of online content they don’t want you to be using while at work.

Most common reasons for corporate VPN use:

  • Access internal company networks
  • Secure connections from remote locations
  • Monitor network activity

This is one of the reason’s so many students feel that a VPN is an essential tool for university and why some higher education institutions have started banning unauthorised VPNs from their intranets.

What is a Public VPN?

A public VPN is designed to benefit the individual user rather than the company they work for.

When you connect to a public VPN, everything you do online is encrypted, often with what they market as ‘military-grade’ encryption.

This means that no-one can see the websites you are visiting or what you get up to online, not even your ISP.

Public VPNs also help to mask your IP Address when using the internet, which means the websites you visit cannot trace your online activity back to you.

Large reputable commercial (public) VPN services like ExpressVPN also retain no logs of your activity and have had their service independently audited to verify this.

Because public VPNs allow you to change your IP address, this also means that you can use the internet as if you were in a different country or location. This will enable you to bypass online censorship and geo-restrictions and access just about any online content no matter where you are.

Some of the most common uses of a public VPN include:

  • Protect your online privacy
  • Unblock geo-restricted services like Netflix or BBC iPlayer
  • Bypass censorship or firewall restrictions
  • Avoid ISP speed throttling
  • Download Torrents anonymously

Public VPNs generally tailor their speeds to offer the fastest connections as they know users could potentially be carrying out high-intensity tasks, such as watching video.

Even better, a public VPN will usually cost you no more than a few pounds a month to sign up for whereas the cost of a corporate VPN, which is generally met by companies, is often many times that.

Corporate VPNs offer none of these benefits or personal privacy protections, nor are they intended to.

Should you choose a corporate VPN or a public VPN?

If your company uses a corporate VPN to allow remote workers to access their IT infrastructure, then you will need to use it.

But you should be aware of its limitations and the fact that when you are connected to this corporate VPN, your company can potentially see everything you are doing online.

If you want to keep your online activity secure and private even from your boss, you would be well advised to disconnect from it and use a public VPN instead for this.

However, you should remember that a public VPN is not a replacement for a corporate one when your workplace requires its use.

If you are a small business worker or self-employed and suddenly find yourself working from home, it is unlikely that a corporate VPN is the right tool for you.

A commercial VPN provider is much more suitable as it will offer the individual protections and securities that you need.

It is important to choose the right public VPN for you and you will find loads of information about all the top public VPNs right here at Most home workers will want to find a public VPN with robust encryption, fast connection speeds, and user-friendly apps

Our current top recommendations are ExpressVPN, CyberGhost VPN, and NordVPN.

Author: David Spencer

Cyber-security & Technology Reporter, David, monitors everything going on in the privacy world. Fighting for a less restricted internet as a member of the VPNCompare team for over 7 years.

Away from writing, he enjoys reading and politics. He is currently learning Mandarin too... slowly.

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