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VPN Best Practices for Supporting Your Teleworkers

August 29, 2020

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The COVID-19 pandemic shook the business world to the core since restrictions and mandatory public health measures forced employees to work from home. As lockdowns ended, more and more businesses started to rethink in-office perks and extend their work-from-home arrangements. As a result, tech experts saw increased use of VPNs or Virtual Private Networks. Check out our short guide on VPN best practices for supporting teleworkers.

Check the Basic Defense Lines and Put a Security Policy in Place

Any cybersecurity strategy aims to protect the company’s assets. Businesses using VPN should have both antivirus and firewall protection up and running on all their hardware. Furthermore, security experts strongly recommend “Security as a service” (SECaaS), a cloud-delivered model for outsourcing cybersecurity services. 

Needless to say, it’s absolutely crucial to detect, identify, and stop malicious attacks on networks before any damage occurs. A security policy should establish who has access to the network, what type of devices can connect, and how much access is granted. Additional matters should include multi-factor authentication, idle connection time, and standard process in case of a breach.

Earlier this year, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued an alert encouraging organizations to adopt a heightened state of cybersecurity by implementing a series of VPN best practices, including: 

  • Updating VPNs and network infrastructure and remote devices
  • Implementing Multi-Factor Authentication on all VPN connections or training your employees to use strong passwords
  • Warning teleworkers about an expected increase in phishing attempts
  • Testing VPN limitations in preparation for mass usage
  • Prioritizing users requiring higher bandwidths

Choose the Right Type of VPN Protocol for Your Organization

There are several types of VPN in use in the corporate world. The IT provider or your in-house support team should be able to determine which type of VPN is appropriate for the security requirements of your business.

Types of VPN protocols: 

Internet Protocol Security (IPSec) secures Internet Protocol communication by authenticating the session and encrypting each data packet during the connection.

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) create a VPN connection where the web browser acts as the client, and user access is restricted to specific applications instead of the entire network.

Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP) is usually combined with another VPN security protocol to create a highly secure VPN connection. L2TP creates a tunnel between two L2TP connection points, and the IPSec protocol encrypts the data and handles secure communication.

Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) is one of the most widely used VPN protocols and has been in use for almost 20 years now. 

Secure Shell, or SSH, creates the VPN tunnel and ensures its encryption. SSH connections are created by an SSH client, and data is transferred from a local port to the remote server.

Connect Work Devices Only and Mind the VPN bandwidth

Whether you are using an in-house or an outsourced VPN solution, keep bandwidth limitations in mind. Even a fast VPN from a top vendor can cause lag. Train your employees to disconnect from the VPN if they’re watching Netflix or joining a Skype meeting in order to preserve that bandwidth for someone who needs access to important resources. 

Security experts also recommend, if possible, that only company-issued hardware should connect to the internal corporate network, with or without a VPN. Downloading the VPN profile only on trusted devices helps ensure against a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS attack), where one device infects the whole network. 

Check Vendor Offerings and Choose the Best VPN for Your Business 

As enterprises are relying on internet services more than usual due to the coronavirus pandemic, VPN vendors are now playing in a very competitive market. While the VPN market is dominated by big companies such as Microsoft, Google, Cisco, and IBM, other vendors are offering highly competitive solutions.

For example, Surfshark, a speedy up-and-comer, offers unlimited device support, antimalware, ad-blocking, and tracker-blocking. The service also has a solid range of app support, running on Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, FireTV, and routers. If you want to stick to a well-known seller, Cisco’s VPN Solution is a unified security platform offering deep visibility, context, and control as well as centralized device management. 

Cybersecurity threats, technological progress in cloud technologies, and the COVID-19 pandemic are driving the growing need for secured VPN networks across organizations all around the world. Following basic VPN best practices gives employees safe access to corporate networks.