Staying safe: Why every remote team needs a VPN

Whether your remote teams are working from home, using public Wi-Fi, or embracing a digital nomad lifestyle, VPNs are a critical form of protection.

Rob Stevens

05/05/2020

Remote working is becoming an increasingly popular option in the UK.

With 50% of the workforce set to be at least partially remote by the end of 2020, business leaders can no longer afford to ignore the trend. If you haven’t prepared a remote strategy yet, then you could be falling behind.

There are many components that go into running a thriving remote environment, from hiring the right independent staff members to investing in software for better collaboration. However, few things are more important for any business then ensuring your company and data are secure when your employees start working remotely.

Today, we’re going to look at one of the most powerful tools for remote working security, and why every business should have one.

Companies with remote workers need a VPN

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a critical way for business leaders to add an extra layer of security to their remote working landscape.

If you have a remote workforce, then you also need a system in place that allows your team members to connect to your network without putting your data or company at risk. To remain productive, your team members need access to things like critical software and data sets, which means logging into your environment from a distance.

Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) technology might seem like the easiest way to allow team members to take the office home with them, but it isn’t necessarily the most secure option and there has been a surge in activity from malicious attackers looking for Internet facing RDP servers to exploit since the lockdown and resulting increase in home working began.

A VPN system for remote workers gives you the extra layer of security you need to keep your team operating outside of the office.

What is a remote access VPN?

Remote access VPNs are tools that businesses use to establish encrypted tunnels between the company network and the devices that remote workers use. You can access VPNs for everything from laptops and computers, to mobile devices.

Once you’re connected to the correct VPN, your employees will be able to access the resources on your network in the same way that they would use them in the office. Although the tunnels move through the public Internet, the data that moves through it is not visible during transmission.

The two main components in a remote access VPN are the network access server (often hosted on a hardware firewall) and the VPN client software.

Connecting to the VPN requires a username and password – in a Microsoft domain environment the VPN service is often linked the the domain server meaning that users don’t need to remember another set of credentials, and admins have only the once source of credentials to manage. You could add an extra layer of security to your VPN by implementing something like biometric or two-factor security.

Most operating systems come with built-in software that allows for remote access VPN connections, however the dedicated client software provided by the VPN vendor is usually an easier option to install and configure.

What are the benefits of remote VPNs?

Using a remote VPN offers several crucial advantages for businesses in search of security. The most important benefit, however, is better data security.

When offsite employees sends data into your network through the VPN, it’s encrypted. That means that even if a hacker intercepts the signal, they won’t be able to read the data. This is particularly valuable if an employee accesses a company network using public Wi-Fi during travel. Remember, public Wi-Fi is rarely encrypted.

Here are some of the other major benefits of using a VPN with your remote workers:

  • Greater flexibility: VPNs offer a lot of flexibility when it comes to things like access control and management. On the back-end of your VPN software, you can adjust components that ensure only certain employees will have access to specific pieces of information. For instance, a sales rep might be able to use a VPN for access to customer accounts, but they wouldn’t have access to things like legal documents or business planning guides. If your company needs tight control over data, a VPN is an excellent choice.
  • More freedom for workers: Working in a remote environment can be a great way to boost employee productivity and satisfaction. However, there’s no guarantee that the internet your employee chooses to use will have a secure connection. If your staff member decides to log into your system from a coffee shop or mobile connection, a VPN ensures that your security doesn’t suffer. Your employees get the freedom they need, without compromising on safety.
  • More opportunities to hire top talent: When you have a VPN in place, you don’t have to worry about bringing employees from overseas into your local office to maintain a secure connection. Staff from all around the world can access the same technology through the same secure links. This opens you up to endless opportunities to find the best possible team members for your business.
  • Keep employees productive: If emergencies happen that prevent your essential employees from coming into work, such as an accident at the office or a natural disaster, a VPN means you can stay productive. No matter what happens in the world around you, your VPN will ensure that remote workers can always access the tools they need to get their most important work done. That’s something that many employers discovered first-hand during the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020.
  • Support field and mobile workers: A remote VPN doesn’t just deliver benefits for your remote workers who are logging in from home. If you have consultants and technicians on the field, you can also give them access to your remote VPN. This means that field workers can log into the system, manage appointments, and even access crucial information without having to worry about the security of their internet connection. Your employees won’t have to wait until they’re back at the office to be productive. You could find that your teams become a lot more efficient when they have access to the internet on the move.
  • Better governance: With a VPN in place, you can rest assured that you’ll be more likely to adhere to the data protection and privacy standards of your industry. As governments and industry leaders continue to demand stricter standards for data governance, remote VPNs are likely to become an essential part of keeping any business safe. Remember, your encrypted connections keep your business secure, but they also protect vital customer data too.

Your employees need a remote VPN

Thanks to cloud computing and Remote Desktop Protocol technology, it’s easier than ever for businesses to embrace the benefits of remote working. The number of remote and home working locations has grown by 159% in the last 15 years.

As employers continue to recognise the advantages of remote work, from better work/life balance to reduced overheads, it’s crucial for team leaders to avoid rushing into new strategies without first putting the right security measures in place.

Whether your employees are working from home temporarily, using public Wi-Fi to log into meetings from a distance, or embracing a digital nomad lifestyle, VPNs are a critical form of protection. Designed to defend your company from things like Wi-Fi hotspot threats and man-in-the-middle attacks, these products can ensure that data breaches don’t spell the end of your business.

Remember, when setting up your VPN, make sure that your employees are aware of your security policy, and how they can keep themselves safe when working from home. Encouraging strong multi-factor authentication policies for logging into the VPN and maintaining good password hygiene will be essential too. Additionally, make sure your team members know what kind of data they should be using their VPN for.

Keep your business secure

Embracing the remote working trend doesn’t have to mean cutting down on security. As your team members continue to branch out of the office, your VPN will ensure that you have all the protection you need to defend homeworkers, field employees, and even remote staff from overseas.

To learn more about how you can make the most of your VPN, or what kind of security technology is necessary for your remote team, reach out to Nice Network today.