Should Employees Working from Home Use a VPN to Connect Online?

The number of remote workers has been increasing steadily over the last five years. This is due both to the adoption of cloud solutions and the realisation of how much money can be saved due to better productivity and lower office costs.

That number is about to skyrocket due to the COVID-19 outbreak and need for social distancing. This has caused many businesses in Brisbane, Sydney, and the rest of the world to have employees work from home to reduce the risk of spread.

A big question we often hear in relation to both remote workers and those that work from a mobile device while traveling is whether or not a company should be using a virtual private network (VPN) service?

The short answer is, yes, if you want to ensure security no matter how a device is connecting to the internet. This is especially vital when employees are connecting to business apps and servers from remote locations through unknown Wi-Fi connections.

We’ll go through exactly how a VPN works, the difference between a personal and business VPN, and the benefits of using a business VPN for your remote workforce.

Why You Need to Use a Business VPN to Secure Remote Connections

75% of Internet of Things (IoT) device attacks happen to routers. Once a hacker has compromised a router, they have the ability to capture any unencrypted traffic from devices connected to that same network. 

This makes unsecure public Wi-Fi a huge security risk as well as home routers, which have less protection than business-grade routers in offices.

How Does a VPN Work?

A VPN acts as a layer between a user’s device and the internet. It encrypts the traffic being shared over the internet (such as a login to a business application or file transfer). This encryption prevents a user on the same network from being able to compromise that traffic.

When a user is connecting to the internet through a VPN app on their computer or mobile device, their traffic is first being routed to the VPN company’s server. The software on that server puts in place any number of security protocols before routing their traffic from the VPN server to the internet (i.e. the cloud platform or website they want to use.)

Some of these security measures can include:

  • Layer 2 Tunneling protocol (L2TP)
  • Secure Shell, SSH
  • IPSec (a suite of security protocols)

Another protection offered by a VPN is that it masks the IP address of the computer. This offers a safeguard so that an employee’s home IP address isn’t being broadcast when they’re online for work. Instead of the device IP, the IP address that shows up to websites that you visit is the IP of the VPN company’s server that is handling the connection.

To use a VPN, a company simply signs up for an account with a trusted VPN provider. Each employee can download the VPN application on their device. The company administrator can add those devices to the VPN plan. Then, the app is turned on and begins encrypting the device’s internet traffic.

What’s the Difference Between a Personal VPN and Business VPN Plan?

Small businesses with a few users, might be tempted to just have their users sign up for a free or cheap individual VPN plan, but that has several drawbacks for companies.

  • A personal VPN server won’t have the same security as a business VPN server.
  • A business VPN plan gives you administrative control over all devices using your VPN.
  • You can often get a dedicated IP address with a business VPN, where your IP address may change with each connection on a personal plan.
  • A personal VPN is designed for a single user, a business VPN accommodates multiple users.A personal VPN server won’t have the same security as a business VPN server.

How Does a VPN Benefit My Remote Workers?

There are a number of advantages to using a VPN for your remote and mobile employees.

  • Keeps Connections Secure: No matter where your users are connecting from (free airport Wi-Fi or home router) their traffic is secure and encrypted so they don’t have to worry about things like logging into email or sensitive accounts.
  • May Speed Up Connections: Some VPNs offer fast servers which can resolve IP addresses faster than an internet service provider. This basically means that employees may see websites loading faster when connecting through a VPN.
  • Advanced Security Safeguards: You can often find higher security levels on business VPNs than you can on routers. For example, some VPNs offer military-grade encryption and TrustedServer technology.
  • Easy to Use: VPNs are easy for your employees to use. They simply download the VPN application and then turn it on. Your administrators can use a single control panel to add and remove employee and company devices as needed.

Get Help Securing Your Remote Workers!

Connected Platforms can help you implement a business VPN throughout your organisation as well as put in place other remote worker safeguards.

Contact us today for a free security consultation or to find out more about other IT solutions we can help you with. Call 1300 866 096 or book a coffee meeting online.