Do you have a company with collaborators who work remotely and are you looking for a solution that allows you to manage your team easily and securely? Well, if your intent is to create a custom VPN with the highest security standards and a centralized control panel from which to easily manage users, work groups, servers and accesses, I really think you should take a look at NordLayer .
Made by the same company as NordVPN (one of the best VPN services, which I told you about in detail in a dedicated tutorial ), NordLayer is a dynamic solution that allows companies – from the smallest to the largest – to access their network in a way safe and customizing everything according to your specific needs. Using NordLayer, your team members will be able to access company resources from any location and device, relying on the maximum security provided by the 256-bit AES encryption of the traffic and by features such as two-factor authentication (2FA). At the base of everything, then, there is a secure server infrastructure distributed in 33 countries and a centralized control panel that guarantees maximum simplicity and ease of use.
In fact, to start using the service just choose a plan, activate the subscription and access the NordLayer control panel, thanks to which you can easily build your work teams and manage their members and settings. To connect to the VPN and securely access work files, just install the handy NordLayer client, which is available for all major desktop and mobile operating systems. Interesting, right? For more details read on: you will find everything explained below.
- NordLayer features and prices
- How NordLayer works
- Adding and managing users
- Creation and management of work teams
- Gateway creation and management
- Server management
- Access management and other settings
- NordLayer client installation and configuration
- For more information
NordLayer features and prices
Before getting to the heart of the tutorial and explaining how NordLayer works , it seems appropriate to point out the features and prices of the service, as well as the platforms on which it is possible to use it.
So let’s start with a brief overview of the main features of the service , which offers a convenient centralized control panel that allows you to easily add and manage users, create customized teams, create dedicated gateways (it is possible to create gateways dedicated to specific teams and branches by assigning specific servers, choosing virtual locations, and determining which team members can access certain gateways) and monitor server load.
All with maximum security : NordLayer, in fact, boasts servers distributed in 33 countries around the world and an advanced VPN system that allows you to access company data from any location through a 256-bit AES encryption that makes traffic invisible to potential attackers (and anyone else). Other interesting functions, which guarantee both security and ease of use in NordLayer, are the support for two-factor authentication (so that every new access from an unrecognized device or browser is required to enter a OTP code to be generated with dedicated apps, in addition to the classic account password); the Kill switch, which avoids data leakage in case of connection failure, and the ability to log in with Azure AD, Google and Okta accounts .
It should also be highlighted the possibility to transfer licenses from one account to another and to control access to your network via IP whitelist and management of permissions for users based on their IPs (in this way violations are avoided and employees only have access to the resources they need to do their jobs).
Finally, it should be mentioned that billing is centralized , so that all NordLayer expenses can be managed easily (invoices are sent to each user simultaneously), and that there is the possibility of receiving 24/7 support from a team of certified professionals able to always provide quick and comprehensive answers.
As for the plans available , these are suitable for the needs of any type of company, from the smallest to the largest: here they are in detail.
- Basic– costs $ 9 / month or $ 84 / year and includes Cloud VPN; control Panel; centralized billing; license transfer; kill switch; two-factor authentication; access with Google, Azure AD and Okta; automatic connection, shared access to 33 servers and 24/7 customer support.
- Advanced– costs $ 11 / month or $ 108 / year and includes all the benefits of the Basic plan plus purchase of dedicated servers, the ability to choose from over 20 dedicated server locations, dedicated account management and 24/7 priority support.
- Enterprise– this is the solution for larger businesses. Includes state-of-the-art site-to-site capabilities; centralized management and configuration; LDAP Active Directory; access to the API; 24/7 telephone support; dedicated servers for On-premise installations and Premium custom settings, including the ability to change the application logo and colors. The price is evaluated according to the needs by sending a specific request on the NordLayer website.
Finally, as far as compatibility is concerned, there is really nothing to worry about, since the NordLayer client is available for all the most popular operating systems both in the desktop environment – Windows , macOS and Linux – and in the mobile environment, therefore Android and iOS / iPadOS .
How NordLayer works
At this point, I’d say it’s time to take action and take a closer look at how NordLayer works . Find everything explained below.
The first step you need to take is to register. Then connect to the official NordLayer website and click on the Sign up button relating to the plan of your interest to create your account (you can also register without activating a plan and proceed with the purchase at a later time; just click on the button Sign up at the top, without selecting any plan).
In the next step you need to set up an ID for your company , which you will then use to log into the NordLayer control panel (your colleagues will also need it to access their apps). Then confirm and log in to your e-mail box to find the security code to enter in the appropriate fields you see on the screen.
Once verified, set a password for your account (please choose a secure password ) and that’s it. Once your registration is complete, you will be able to access the NordLayer centralized management panel from which you can manage all aspects of the service.
Once logged in, to purchase one of the available plans , click on the Activate now button you see above, select the solution you are interested in and complete the transaction by filling out the form that is proposed to you and paying by card (the main ones are supported credit and debit cards, including prepaid cards ).
How do you say? Did you receive an email link to download NordLayer from your company? In this case, click on the item to activate the account in the message; then, on the page that opens, enter your name , set a password and activate your license . You will then be able to proceed with the download and installation of the NordLayer client as I will explain later .
Adding and managing users
Once registered, you can create your work team by inviting other users to NordLayer and adding them to your work groups later.
Then log into the NordLayer management panel and go to the Members section of the side menu, where the owner can invite users to join the platform, assign them roles and manage access.
To do this, select the Members> Team items from the sidebar of the NordLayer control panel and press the Invite new member button . In the form that is proposed to you, enter the email addresses of the users to invite, select the team to assign them to and click on the button to send the invitations .
You will notice that invited users will be visible in the member list, with the status of “Invited” next to them. To enter the platform, they must register via the link received via email, install the NordLayer application and activate the relevant license.
Subsequently, you can manage the added users simply by checking the boxes related to their names and selecting one of the options available in the actions menu (located at the top), for example those to add them to the team ; activate them (through a specific license); suspend them ; re-invite them or make them inactive . It is also possible to delete a user by clicking on the dustbin icon next to his name (or again via the actions menu, to delete multiple selected users).
Creation and management of work teams
Once you have invited users, you need to organize them into work teams . To do this, you need to make use of the Teams section of the NordLayer control panel, where the owner can create various teams, assign and remove members and manage their devices.
To access the Teams section , log in to the NordLayer management panel and select the Organization> Teams items from the side menu. From here, click on the button to create a team , enter the name to be assigned to it and confirm .
To add one or more members to a team, instead, select the group name from the Teams section and click the button to add members . In the box that is proposed to you, then type the usernames or email addresses of the people to add and confirm . Very easy.
If you change your mind, you can remove a member from your team by simply clicking on the trash can icon next to their name.
The procedure to follow if you want to change your name or delete your team is also very easy: just access the relevant page and click on the Edit (to change the name) or Delete (to delete it) buttons .
What about adding a team to a gateway ? Same thing: click on the appropriate button you see above, indicate the gateway of your interest (you can find out how to set up a gateway in the next chapter of the guide) and confirm .
Gateway creation and management
A private gateway allows you to connect a dedicated private server to the work team to which it is assigned. Each gateway can have one or more different servers with static IP addresses. By using multiple gateways, you have better load balancing and are able to manage access for members more easily.
You can create and manage gateways by accessing the NordLayer management panel and selecting the Network> Gateway items from the side menu. From here, to create a private gateway , click on the appropriate button, type the name to be assigned to it and confirm .
Then, to add a team to the gateway , select the latter from the Network> Gateway menu and press the Build team button : you can then select the team to assign to the gateway.
The same goes for servers: to assign a server to the gateway , click on the Add server button , select the server with the nationality of your interest from the menu displayed on the screen and confirm .
Using the buttons at the top you can also suspend , cancel or change the name of the selected gateway. Easier done than said!
Buying a private server and setting it up in NordLayer allows each team member to have their own dedicated IP address . In this way it is also possible to manage access to company resources remotely via IP whitelist , just as it is possible to set up a site-to-site connection . It should be noted that a license must be purchased for each of the dedicated servers. Should the resources (eg load) decrease, the number of licenses for the servers will have to be adjusted manually.
To manage everything, access the NordLayer management panel and select the Network> Servers items from the side menu. Once you have created the gateways and assigned the servers ( as I explained to you before ) you will be able to see the complete list of the servers you have purchased with their IP addresses, gateways and load information (you can filter the information using the appropriate menu you see in tall).
If necessary, you can also delete a server by simply checking the relevant box and selecting the delete option from the menu.
Access management and other settings
In the Settings menu of the NordLayer management panel you can find two sections: Login methods in which to set the access methods to the platform and activate, for example, two-factor authentication and access with Azure AD , Google and Okta , and Security configurations , where you can adjust settings such as notification of updates in the NordLayer application , access via biometric systems and the activation of ThreatBlock to block malware and other cyber threats.
Among the available options is also Smart Access , which allows you to establish connections from endpoint to endpoint (if connected to the same server) and allows users to see their respective endpoints even if they are not connected to the same LAN.
Smart access can only be activated on gateways with a single dedicated server. Also, please note that if you are connected to NordLayer, you will be able to connect to any other team computer via the RDP service, but no one will be able to reach your device via remote desktop.
Finally, I would like to point out that in the Downloads section of the control panel you can download the NordLayer client for all supported operating systems or download the file for the manual configuration of the VPN to be sent to individual users who need it.
NordLayer client installation and configuration
Once everything is set up as described in the previous chapters, you can move on to installing and configuring the client to connect to the platform.
To download NordLayer on your computer , then connect to the official website of the program and click first on the name of the operating system you use and then on the download button .
In the case of Windows, an executable file will be downloaded : at the end of the download, start it, click on the Yes and Next buttons twice consecutively and complete the procedure by pressing Install and Finish .
If you are using a Mac , however, the Mac App Store will open : to install NordLayer, click on the Get button and verify your identity with your Apple ID password or Touch ID .
Once the installation is complete, start the software, type the name of your organization in the NordLayer client, go ahead , enter your access data ( email address and password ) and, once logged in, select the gateway to connect to. The appearance of a green indicator next to the gateway name and a message displayed below will notify you that the connection is successful.
By clicking on the Settings button, you can access the client settings, which are divided into various tabs.
In General there are the settings to automatically launch the application when the operating system starts, activate the ThreatBlock function to block dangerous sites, malware and other cyber threats, activate the Kill switch to protect data in case of unexpected disconnection from the VPN and manage status notifications .
In the Auto-connect tab you can manage the settings related to automatic connection to gateways in various situations, while in VPN protocol you can adjust the preferences related to the VPN protocol to be used. Finally, in Smart Access you can take advantage of this access mode (if enabled by the administrator) and in Account you can manage your account.
If you prefer to act on the move, please note that NordLayer is also available as an application for Android devices , which can be downloaded from the Play Store or as an APK file from the official website, and for iOS / iPadOS devices , which can be downloaded directly from the App Store .
To install the app, you need to open the links I just gave you from your device and hit the Install / Get button . On iPhones and iPads, you may be asked to verify your identity.
The operation of the mobile application is similar to that of the computer client, with the exception that at the first start you must authorize the creation of the VPN profile in the settings of your device.
For more information
By now you should have all the basics to start using NordLayer. To learn more about the functioning of the service, however, I refer you to the official page with the FAQ , that is to the page that contains all the answers to the most frequently asked questions by users.
I also recommend that you take a look at the official NordLayer blog , where you can find lots of interesting news for you and your company related to the world of NordLayer.
And if you need to get in touch with the service staff, I would like to point out that by selecting the Need help item from the control panel menu you can access the chat in real time and the form to send an email to support.