Remember when everything from your phone system to your digital spreadsheet collection were stored on servers in a big air conditioned room within company walls? To gain secure access to all those zeros and ones, remote workers needed to connect through a fixed Virtual Private Network (VPN). That was way back before all the strategists realized it was more strategic to host services on the Internet, in a place called, ‘The Cloud’ (which is actually just the Internet). When the cloud came along, data security got hard. Here’s how to make it easier.
The cloud changed the network security playing field. Suddenly sensitive data was vulnerable from all sides. Then the mobile communications revolution added more weakness by multiplying access points.
Dedicated fixed connections are no longer feasible, because people are connecting from multiple devices from all over the place at all hours of the night and day. As Wired puts it, “VPN gateways now need to be configured to support remote access via smartphones, tablets and notebooks.”
This combination of cloud-based services, like your VoIP system, and mobile endpoints, lays out an enticing feast for fraud thirsty cybercriminals. VPN Haus says BYOD creates vulnerabilities because they lack many physical access control mechanisms, attract malware, and are often “used while connected to unsafe networks, such as public Wi-Fi hotspots or unsecured hotel networks.”
Your security solution needs to be flexible.
As the organization, you are no longer in control of how employees access internal information. To let your people keep pace, you need to give them what they need, in which ever way is most convenient for them in the given moment, and it’s got to be fast. Pertino says, “It no longer makes sense for remote workers to establish a remote connection back into their physical office in order to access the servers, files, and applications that are, in fact, in the cloud.”
More than ever, your information needs to be locked down tight and highly accessible. That requires a cloud VPN that isn’t stuck in the old days of stringent limitations.
docTrackr Data Security Blog says you’d be crazy not to use a VPN for access to your enterprise cloud. Especially considering that an estimated 73% of employee mobile devices used for work purposes are not connected to company IT support.
Gizmodo explains Virtual Private Networks, “allow users to securely access a private network and share data remotely through public networks.” VPNs protect data online by generating virtual P2P connections on the fly and encrypting the transmitted data. It’s exactly as if your users are behind the safety of your own private network.
Choosing the right VPN for your cloud makes all the difference.
You can’t build the redundancy and flexibility required of a cloud-based solution using a hardware based VPN.
With modern VPN capabilities, enterprises can give employees the mobile access to corporate networks they need, while still keeping their networks secure.
The Wired post I referenced above lists three core considerations enterprises need to examine when selecting a cloud-based VPN solution. I’ll expand on them here:
1. Central management: You’ll need to control user access using granular management tools for the addition, setup, and deletion of users, as well as all other configuration and administration. And administration should be easy. As employees come and go, you’ll want to deploy and cut off access without delay.
2. Cost-savings: You’re going to save over what you’re used to with a hardware-based solution. Traditional VPNs required costly infrastructure implementations with ongoing maintenance fees. Cloud-based VPNs can be acquired for a predictable monthly subscription fee. Balance the savings with functional requirements.
3. Flexibility: Your solution will need to scale easily, with no worries about redundancy. To be truly useful, Cloud VPNs suitable for today’s work environment, should let users establish secure connections over 3G/4G, Wi-Fi, etc. And look for Cloud VPNs with an integrated personal firewall. They provide “superior security for users while allowing access to a network from anywhere.”
Don’t get caught unprotected.
docTrackr says there are free VPN services available for cloud. It’s up to you how much you want to trust them. The main point is that cloud VPNs are crucial to securing your network from attack, and protecting against threats like toll fraud.