When a user connects to your Magento store, they connect over HTTPS, a secure protocol that uses an SSL certificate to encrypt data sent between the shopper’s browser and the server that hosts the store. Without HTTPS, it is possible for a third-party to intercept the data, putting the shopper and the store at risk. But shoppers aren’t the only people that might need to access your store and its “front-entrance” isn’t the only way in.
In some cases, making a change to a store may require a developer or other professional to connect using a service like FTP. FTP is an old protocol that is often still used to upload files to a server. It doesn’t have any built-in encryption, so data is sent in the clear. There are several services a dedicated server hosting client might want to make available, but that are inherently insecure. Usually, insecure services like FTP are blocked by a firewall that prevents anyone from accessing them, but that may be inconvenient.
Retailers and publishers often work with third-parties such as design agencies or teams of outside developers. Remote employees may need to connect to the store while they’re in an untrusted location like their home or a coffee shop. Without a VPN, that’s a bad idea because sensitive data is sent over WiFi networks and the internet in the clear. It is trivially easy for a bad actor to intercept it, which is why we make OpenVPN available on dedicated server Magento and WordPress hosting plans.
The “VPN” in OpenVPN stands for virtual private network. A virtual private network provides the same protection as HTTPS to services that aren’t usually encrypted. When someone needs to connect to a store using FTP, they first connect to the virtual private network. You can think of the VPN as a tunnel through which other data is sent. That data is encrypted using similar techniques to the SSL-based encryption that HTTPS uses.
Once connected to the server’s virtual private network, the user can then log in over FTP and upload their files. The data they send will travel over the secure connection managed by the virtual private network. A man-in-the-middle attacker will not be able to intercept or alter the data.
Our WordPress and Magento dedicated server OpenVPN service is certificate-based, rather than credential-based, which means third-party users will need to have the relevant certificate on their machine. They won’t have to remember or use a password.
We make OpenVPN available on select WordPress dedicated server and Magento dedicated server accounts to protect hosting clients and to make it easier for them to grant secure access to third-parties. All users need to connect to the VPN is an OpenVPN client, many of which are available for free.