Being able to work from home is a wonderful benefit for employees and can keep them productive while reducing their stress. It can also be a data security risk if not handled properly. Fortunately, if you have a local network, it’s not very hard to bring telecommuters into it. A network with this capacity is called a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
To set up a VPN, you need a VPN server in your local network. Some routers provide this capability, or you can set up a computer with VPN software for more advanced capabilities. Remote users need to install VPN clients on their computers and enter the password for the server. Once they’ve done this, they have a secure “tunnel” into the network that lets their computers operate as if they were part of the local network.
This is a much safer approach than opening up your network to anyone who connects. You can (and should) still set up a firewall that keeps outsiders from accessing your network services. Only users with VPN access can get at network resources, and the connection encrypts all traffic, so it’s safe against interception. For the best security, you should use software that incorporates the latest, safest security protocols.
A badly managed VPN can open security holes, though. If malware infects telecommuters’ computers, it could steal information from your network or even spread to your other computers.
Tips for a secure VPN
- Give access only to people who need it.
- Require all computers with access to have good anti-virus software.
- Set a strong password policy.
- Tell employees to connect to the network only on an as-needed basis, not to stay connected all the time.
- Don’t allow telecommuters to access the VPN through Wi-Fi routers other than their own, unless it’s their job to connect while on the road.
A properly secured VPN gives employees extra flexibility while giving your network the security it needs.
To learn how we can help you with network management and support, please contact us.