IT security 101: Remote working with Virtual Private Networks

** Please note this is about VPNs for business-related file sharing. Not VPNs that let you use an IP from another country to watch Netflix!

Working the 9-5 in an office is fast becoming a thing of the past, with more people choosing to work from home or a booth in a trendy café than ever before. And with a rise in remote working comes a need for business owners to modernise their IT systems and enable remote working.

To do this, some companies house their work files on a Cloud server so staff can access them from anywhere at any time. Azure, Google and Amazon all offer variations of Cloud servers, which are now the norm in companies that have adopted a Cloud-only or hybrid Cloud approach.

But for companies that aren’t ready, willing or able to move part or all of their private files to a Cloud server, Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) offer all the same advantages without some of the perceived disadvantages of Cloud.

What is a VPN?

A VPN extends a local network (i.e.: the network in your office) across a public network (but in a private way) so staff can work as though they were sitting right there in your office.

There are many benefits to adding a VPN to your business, including:

  • Allows remote working
  • Facilitates collaboration
  • Connects offices in different locations
  • Makes it easy to access files in an emergency
  • Provides a secure way to share files rather than by email

Progressive organisations see VPNs as essential, because they make it easy to offer flexible working arrangements. For example, new parents can work from home half a week and spend the other half in the office – allowing them to save on day care while continuing their career (which is mutually beneficial).

How does a VPN work?

When we set up a VPN for your business, we create a new private network by configuring your server. We then provide staff access with their own unique logins.

The staff member can then:

  • Install the VPN software
  • Connect securely to the VPN
  • Connect to their desktop via a secure remote desktop connection

And presto! They are working on the server just as they would be in the office, with access to the same desktop, email and folders they usually work in.

Are VPNs safe?

When set up correctly, a VPN is very safe as it is not front-facing (part of the World Wide Web) and can incorporate a variety of security measures to ensure hackers do not penetrate the network.

For example, if someone tried to logon to the server, the session would timeout and they would have to start their hack attempt again. This double layer of security is essential and acts like a firewall to keep unsavoury characters away from your private data.

You can also add extra security such as “Salt” which could include 2-factor authentication. Like the salt you eat, this clever software changes the “flavouring” of each VPN connection – adding a unique variable that changes constantly so hackers find it incredibly difficult to get in.

To set up a VPN (Cloud or server) in your business, call Empreus IT Support on (02) 6189 1322 or contact us now.