How can I securely access my work data from outside the office?
More and more people either want to or need to work from home, a hotel or a remote office. How do you enable employees to work remotely? You will need use a technology called VPN or virtual private network. Over the years, you may have heard this term and nodded your head, but realized you have no idea what this is. A VPN is an encrypted tunnel traveling through the public internet. Having an encrypted tunnel allows your connection to travel safely from point to point. In the old days, to access your office or offices you would’ve had to have a direct connection. As you can imagine, this is not cheap.
Every office has a connection to the internet, so why not leverage this to communicate between different branches and with remote locations? Well, the problem is that it’s the public internet. Yes, it’s fast, but it certainly isn’t secure. A VPN allows you to connect securely with the office and take advantage of the speed that most home and commercial internet connections offer. Typically, once the VPN is set up between offices, you don’t really have to touch it again, unless you move or change internet providers.
Secure Remote Access To Your Office
If you just want to reach your office from your laptop, this is easily done using a VPN client on your computer. This is software your IT provider can install that will communicate with the firewall. Once you connect, you are on the corporate network. Then it is just a matter of using something like the built-in Remote Desktop Connection that is included in Windows. It will be as if you are sitting at a desk in your company’s office space.
If you are connecting branches, then a site-to-site VPN is in order. After this is set up, you can use resources in the other office as if you were physically connected to their network. Once this is set up, you can make use of this technology with no extra software.
VPN Set Up Considerations
The first thing necessary for a VPN is to make sure that your office and branches have firewalls. Is your network secure right now? Can your company’s network be compromised because of this newfound freedom? Whether you realize it or not, there are thousands of cyber intruders trying to gain access to unprotected networks 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Every business network should have a firewall that protects their network from intruders.
You have a choice between hardware and software firewalls, but remember that hardware is always better if you have the choice. Additionally, software would either have to be deployed on a separate server or placed on every workstation in your organization. Hardware devices range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars, depending on the size of the network. We suggest using something like a Cisco ASA (adaptive security appliance).
Many people balk at having to pay for a device that seems invisible on the network. The old adage “pay me now or pay me later” comes into play. The costs of recovering from being hacked could be astronomical – assuming that you could recover everything. Contact us, so that we can help plan and implement a firewall and VPN strategy for your company.
Hope this was helpful. Please be sure to reach out to me with any questions at, firstname.lastname@example.org
Senior Network Engineer