VPNs – Not Necessarily the Safest Option for Working Remotely

22
Apr

The ability to work remotely is a powerful tool. With it, companies across the globe have been able to maintain operations even if their teams can’t be in close proximity with one another. But, while there are a number of ways to connect remote workers back to the company, there are some security concerns that you should be aware of before doing so.

Let’s talk about one of the most common options – using Virtual Private Networking (VPN).  When data is traversing the public internet, it is possible for hackers to “see” some of those information packets and read your information. To protect the data that travels over the internet, you can encrypt your data at the source and then decrypt it at the destination, making any “sniffing” of the data by a hacker unreadable.  This ensures that the data being transmitted from site A (home) to Site B (office), is very well protected.

The security challenge comes when the computer being used from the home is not protected by your company’s security protocols. For example, let’s say that Bob’s office is now closed and he and his fellow employees are required to work from home. The company sends out some instructions to Bob on how to connect to the company VPN. However, Bob’s home computer is also used by wife and his teenage daughter and son for homework, gaming and who knows what else. Since it’s not setup with the same security protocols as the office systems, if that home unit is infected, it now has a direct link to the office systems.

A best practice with regard to remote connectivity is to avoid VPN and use a secure remote desktop-type utility. In this instance, the company has no consistent access to the home system and can’t manage and monitor the system’s anti-virus or other security applications. Systems like GoToMyPc, Remote PC, or Teamviewer simply allow connectivity to a PC back at the office that presumably is managed and monitored by the company’s IT support firm. In this case, the home unit is just facilitating keystrokes and screen changes, so regardless of the infection level of that home system, malicious software (MalWare) cannot be unknowingly transmitted to the business systems.

Remote Control Access

Employees’ remote connectivity is critical to many organizations’ survival during this unprecedented time. Just be sure you don’t sacrifice the security of your clients’ information and the company’s systems for the sake of convenience. Hackers are out there and ready to pounce on any security lapses they can find, but with some key knowledge and proper planning, you can achieve remote connectivity and maintain security best practices.

If you have any questions about working remotely during COVID-19 (or any other time, for that matter), please do not hesitate to contact our team.

 

Authored by Donald Nokes