UK businesses maintain peak security with VPNs
British businesses need to stay safe regardless of UK, EU, or any international policies. As global trade changes, so does the world of online collaboration.
Changing business partners, experimental trade deals, and online collaboration can be dangerous, and a lot of quick thinking can lead to cyber exposure if you’re not careful.
Today is a good day for a security audit. Here are a few Virtual Private Network (VPN), cyber security, and virtualization concepts to understand as you prepare your business for agile adventures in an ever-changing economy. If the term VPN is new to you, here’s an explainer on what VPN stands for.
Secure tunneling for remote workers
Does your business have employees across the UK and the EU? Do you have data privacy or high security requirements to meet, but can’t trust the security practices of non-technical team members?
Remote work is scalable beyond group texts, phone calls, or just using Skype. Whether you’re using personal computers with meeting software or delivering thin clients or other work computers to your employees, remote connectivity cuts down on commute time while giving you access to talent that may not be interested in moving closer to headquarters.
While there are many programs available to chat, submit work, and collaborate in many other ways, security can be a challenge. Some employees work from free wi-fi hotspots at cafes, restaurants, or libraries. Others may have basic internet without even basic username and password security.
Weeks of blog posts and lectures could be written on the security needs of remote companies, but one of the most vital security techniques involves using a VPN app such as Surfshark which allows you to easily use a UK IP address.
When your business uses a VPN, connecting users are protected by a secure tunnel. The standard internet connection moves through this tunnel and is hidden from prying eyes through a method of scrambling and protecting data called encryption.
Encrypted data can’t be stolen easily. In the event that someone listens in on your business data from an employee working outside of a coffee shop, the stolen data will be a jumbled mess that can take hundreds of years to crack.
Securing your data before entering the VPN
A VPN works best with a new, uncompromised computer. While VPNs have many great benefits, you need to be aware of ways that you or your users could sabotage their own security before the VPN has a chance to help.
If your desktop, laptop, smartphone, tablet, or other computer is already infected, a VPN’s security is significantly compromised. Scrambling your data doesn’t mean much if a keylogger, screen recorder, or other spyware can see everything before scrambling.
Even worse, the virus can become part of the encrypted data. If an employee computer has a keylogger or screen recording virus on their system, hackers could see everything that the employee sees once they connect to the home network.
If you’re not careful, your business network can be compromised from within the VPN.
Your business needs a good anti-virus, virus removal, and security policy plan. Your employees need to know how to scan their computers for viruses even if automated scans fail or stop, and your business needs the most security at all.
By securing your business updated virus protection and security patches, a compromised or improperly patched employee computer won’t be able to connect. This can be accomplished by requiring scans prior to connecting, or having a security patch system that confirms whether connected computers have successfully passed an audit.
If your employees want to use personal computers, you can easily pass the burden of security onto them. Follow basic business cyber security practices or consult an IT security professional to create a security plan, and simply deny connections from any computers that fail the security check.
While setting up proper security takes technical expertise, the final product is a simple pass/fail system that needs updates on a regular basis to keep up with the ever-changing world of security threats.
Do you use virtualization?
Businesses using remote call center employees often send business-class workstations to their employees. Systems such as thin clients are low-cost options designed to work just enough to open a few basic programs.
Web browsers, productivity suites (Microsoft Office or Open Office), media players, and virus protection suites are all that the modern business needs as long as they use virtualization. With a virtual computing system at the core of your business, staying safe and using a VPN can create a sterile, secure environment with far less worries than the seemingly more simple set of workstations and personal computers.
Virtualization works by creating a megaserver of sorts. A server or network of servers are combined digitally to make multiple processors look like one huge, mega-processor. The same goes for storage, memory, and other resources.
This virtualization mega-server is then carved digitally into smaller systems that can be molded for a particular job. Cloud computing is based on virtualization, where multiple computer and applications just exist on the internet and smaller networks without needing to take a wrench to individual computers.
Here’s how it looks from the customer perspective: you ask for 10 workstations and a server for your business files. A virtualization technician opens their software, dials in the system specification that you would see on a computer at the store, and a file is created.
That file is called an image, and that is the computer. There’s a lot of coding going on in the background and within the file, but a single file can be a computer or a series of computers.
Your employees will then use their computers to connect to a virtualization server. What does that look like? Sometimes it’s opening a web browser and logging into a website that bears an uncanny resemblance to a computer desktop.
Other times, you may have a program that opens up a window with another computer screen inside of it. It’s like playing an interactive movie.
With virtualization, you don’t have to worry about employees ruining everything with multiple days of viruses and bad configuration changes. If they mess up too much, you or a server technician can simply reset the virtualization image.
It’s a freshly installed computer with no viruses.
Bring it all back to the VPN
A virtual private network can be used before and after a virtual computer. Your employees can either log into the VPN before entering details about your business network, or they can connect to your business network to ask permission to use the VPN.
Most businesses are better served connecting to the VPN from the start. This secures as much of an employee’s activities as possible, and can help them in both their business and personal browsing.
Much of the security and virtualization discussion involved avoiding and neutralizing viruses. With a VPN on a fresh system, your employees are protected by clean web browsing and whitelist control to make the web safer.
A CleanWeb service blocks ads, trackers, malware loading points, and phishing attempts. Since many “hacker” attacks begin with a victim allowing an automated threat into their system, having a power system of blockers in place cuts down on threats caused by just browsing the web.
Whitelister services help you allow specific apps, sites, and web services through the VPN. If certain sites need to be accessed outside of the VPN, you can allow only those services to bypass while remaining safe for the rest of your session.
Contact a VPN and secure networking professional to discuss other ways to protect your business data.