It’s a crazy world, and we’ve all had to adjust. With the COVID-19 panic making in-person meeting all but impossible, working-from-home is the new default.
Luckily, working-from-home is proving to be quite productive, allowing companies to continue their business, even as their workforce remains sequestered in the house.
However, with all your employees accessing your company data from a variety of sources, it’s critical that you consider how you can protect your company’s digital property.
After all, crime doesn’t sleep just because there’s a pandemic.
How can you control your employees accessing your data while working remotely? A great solution is a VPN.
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. It extends a private network across a shared public space, allowing you to access a private server from a remote location.
Basically, you’re creating a secure network to a specific site.
For individual users, VPNs offer a form of anonymous web browsing, which can be quite useful when using the internet in more restrictive locales.
VPNs have additional uses for companies aside from anonymizing web traffic (though the web traffic is not anonymous to the VPN company -- as a heads up). Their main benefit is they offer a form of secure, remote access to employees who are not immediately plugged into the company network.
This means that you can sequester your sensitive data in a server, and then have that data accessed only through the approved connection. In essence, you’re creating a data fortress through your server and then providing secure passages into that fortress for your employees.
And you’re keeping nefarious workers out.
Sure, VPNs sound fine, you’re thinking. But isn’t it overkill? My employees are hard workers, they’re not going to do anything stupid.
I get it. But let’s say that your associate is trying to send off that presentation and his home internet is down. He logs onto a local wifi hotspot at the coffee shop near his house (hey, it’s closed but the internet is running).
It’s not a secure connection. He connects to your server.
All that web traffic is now susceptible to interception from nefarious actors. Your associate didn’t mean any harm; he was trying to get his work done. However, the connection wasn’t secure, and your data is now at risk.
This is why you need a VPN.
So now that you’ve understood why a VPN is critical to your company’s security, it’s time to figure out which one is the right one for your business. As mentioned earlier, personal VPNs vary greatly from business-centered VPNs, so you need to ensure you’re purchasing the correct VPN license.
VPNs for single users often connect thousands of uses to a single server. This is because the main goal of a single user VPN is to disguise the user’s location, along with limiting company tracking of data. For a company, sharing a server is less-than-ideal, as it means slower speeds, as well as the lack of a dedicated server to access company data.
To remedy this, you want to get a VPN that allows you a dedicated server -- a server that hosts all of your company’s data in a protected manner.
Additionally, you’re going to want a VPN that has a static IP.
Why is this?
Again, for single-user VPNs, your main use for a VPN is for anonymity. One of the ways that this is achieved is through dynamic IP addresses, meaning that the IP address of your computer is changed continuously. This makes your internet activity much more difficult to trace.
For a company, this poses problems. When you have a dynamic IP address, it means that your employees will have a difficult time locating your IP -- meaning it’s harder to access your company server.
For that reason, you’re going to want a VPN that provides a static IP address -- that way all of your employees are able to access your company’s VPN. Again, the main goal is a secure connection. A static IP with a dedicated server provides that.
What else do you need to pay attention to when choosing your VPN? User caps! You’ll want to make sure that you can allow multiple devices to access your server. Typical single-user VPNs have a low limit on the number of users that can access your VPN, so you’ll need to choose a solution that allows all of your employees to access your VPN.
We talked about how VPNs can anonymize web traffic, and how that can be beneficial to the single-user. It can also be highly beneficial to your company. Anonymizing web traffic means that fewer organizations can trace who is accessing your data, meaning that it is more difficult to see patterns in access.
Beyond that, VPNs will also encrypt the data as it travels between the server and the remote access. This means that your data is protected in transit, meaning that it cannot be exploited.
This lowers your vulnerability and provides you with a greater level of understanding if there is a data breach. Odds are, it didn’t happen during transit, but happened once it had arrived at its destination.
Lastly, VPNs allow one administrator to enact company-wide settings that affect all users who access the VPN. You no longer have to go around and manually setting up permissions on each computer; you simply set them on the VPN and each computer must comply as it accesses the VPN. This creates simplicity and uniformity among your workplace -- even when your employees are accessing your data from far away.
VPNs offer your company a safe way to access data while working remotely. Your company can create a single administrator who may set permissions, further standardizing your company’s online activities. It’s a great solution for companies that have employees working outside the office.