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How Do I Secure My Network for Remote Users? - Ask an IT Guy Blog Feature
Ammon Becar

By: Ammon Becar on March 13th, 2020

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How Do I Secure My Network for Remote Users? - Ask an IT Guy

Ask An IT Guy

Many businesses have been thrust into a work-from-home situation overnight with our current public health threat. Some companies already had a few people with remote work capabilities, making the transition relatively easy. But for others, it’s been a wartime situation getting people home and set up to work as quickly as possible to help prevent the spread of illness and avoid lost productivity.

Twitter’s head of HR stated in a message to staff, "Overall, working from home doesn’t change your day-to-day work, it just means you’ll be doing it from a different environment…” (twitter.com).  

Regardless of the situation that’s prompting remote work, it’s important that employees can still do their jobs productively and securely. Let’s dive into one area that will help keep your data secure while remote users stay productive.

How Do I Make Working Remote Safe?

Remote work is the new normal. Because of this, the need for SSL VPNs has grown tremendously. But what is it? 

SSL VPN stands for Secure Sockets Layer Virtual Private Network. It's a safe and secure way for remote users to easily connect to your network. 

Think about SSL VPN like a secure tunnel that connects you from wherever you are, to your company’s internal network safely. After you're connected, you can access the terminal server, your remote desktop, company files, and anything else you might need just as if you were sitting at your office desk. 

You might be thinking, "Well, that's why I have remote desktop - I don’t need this other thing." 

Here's the difference: 

With remote desktop, you’re opening ports for anyone to gain access to your network, while SSL VPN is encrypted and connects directly via your firewall. You can’t guarantee that employees will be working from a secure internet connection when they’re out of the office, so it’s important that their connection is encrypted in case prying eyes try to gain access.  

Users should turn on the VPN, then connect to their remote desktop, terminal server, or business applications.

 

SSL VPN is a Cyber Security Layer; NOT a Catch-All 

This is not an invitation to ignore things like anti-virus. While the tunnel is secure, it is not immune to things like viruses or intrusion attacks.  It's still very important to have antivirus, appropriate detection, and monitoring software on your remote PC. Attacks and intrusions can still come through your SSL VPN tunnel from your remote machine. 

Consider an SSL VPN like an added layer of protection, but it should never be the only source.

Related: Get the Guide to Enabling Remote Workers with Technology to learn how to maintain productivity and security when employees need to work from home.

Firewall Setup and Company Policy

It's also very important that the SSL VPN structure setup on your firewall is done properly. If not, you can very quickly and easily bring down your internal network.  

Remember to use the SSL VPN for company access only. It's very easy to allow all traffic to come through your firewall, which could cause a huge disruption. If your remote users are trying to stream music or video, they’re going to use way more bandwidth that they should, drastically slowing down the internet for everyone using the office internet connection.  

You'll need to always make sure you have your SSL VPN configured correctly and accurately for your business. This will vary by company need, size, and internet speed. Work with your managed IT service provider or IT department to get that configured ASAP.  

No matter what it is, when thinking about security, a layered approach is always going to be your winning combination. So again, make sure your SSL VPN is used along with your firewall, anti-virus, and anti-malware tools, plus it's configured correctly in order to not overwhelm your office’s ability to get work done. 

Have more questions? We're happy to chat anytime. Give us a call at 800-481-4369.

Ask an IT Guy

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Ask an IT Guy was created with you in mind. This bi-monthly blog series will help you get to the bottom of IT questions you didn't even know you had.

Related: Ask an IT Guy: Is Guest WiFi Safe for Your Network?

 

About Ammon Becar

Ammon is a virtual Chief Information Officer (vCIO) for Accent Computer Solutions, Inc. He helps clients plan their technology so their business goals become a reality. He guides technology strategy and vision as a trusted technical advisor to his clients.