Remote work is great for both workers and organizations. Companies can choose from a wider candidate pool when hiring, while professionals can find their dream job without relocating. However, this business model can be challenging. Things like management, communication, and security look a bit different.
With people working from various locations on different devices, the protection of the organization and employees can get a bit tricky. Many of them will be accessing private company resources over public networks. This can make your remote employees the most vulnerable link in your company’s security.
So how can you implement strict safety measures without hindering your employees’ productivity? How do you ensure each worker can access business resources without risking the safety of your organization?
A business VPN can help answer some of these questions. It’s a great start in proofing your endpoints, protecting your remote team, and giving you coworkers absolute online freedom. So whether you have a few remote employees or the whole workforce, learn the ways a remote access VPN can help you out.
What is a VPN?
A virtual private network — a VPN for short — is a technology that redirects a user’s internet traffic through a secure server. It encrypts it and changes the user’s IP address in the process. Encryption scrambles the data, ensuring that no eavesdropper can intercept it. To unauthorized parties, like internet service providers or cybercriminals, it looks like gibberish.
VPN services are used by companies and private individuals alike. On top of encryption, business VPNs can provide remote access and static, unchanging IP addresses. They’re also geared towards organizations with multiple users. So how does it help your business?
The remote work model can’t function without the means for employees to reach company’s resources from a distance. Whether it’s project management software or sensitive company data, workers should be able to reach it safely from their devices.
This is where one of the main business VPN features comes in — remote access capability. It enables employees to reach company resources over the public internet as if they were plugged into the secure office network.
With a cloud-based VPN, all your coworkers need to do is install the app on devices they use for work. Once their identity is authenticated, they can start using it to access work tools.
Cloud-based VPNs are a great solution if people in your team are working on their personal devices. Your remote workers can install the software on their devices and start working right away. This makes the remote onboarding process way easier as the setup of cloud-based VPNs doesn’t require exceptional know-how.
With a remote access VPN, your team is never locked to a specific location. They can securely access necessary resources from a shared workspace, a coffee shop, or their own bed. As long as they are connected to a VPN server, their data traffic is encrypted, and even when their networks change, their IP address stays the same.
Internet traffic encryption
Digital threats to business are increasing every year. More and more data breaches result in millions of records getting exposed, crippling fines, and fatal financial losses. Cybercriminals keep inventing new ways to deceive employees and exploit security flaws in organizations.
Remote workers might be the weak link of your cybersecurity. Human error plays a major part in data breaches, but remote employees are even more at risk. They’re the ones who are more likely to work on their personal devices and access company data on unsecure networks.
For example, if your coworkers are working from their local cafe, its Wi-Fi is unlikely to be very secure. That’s why public hotspots are loved by hackers. Most public Wi-Fi hotspots are easy to crack, duplicate, or snoop on. Most importantly, they’re full of connected users, who all are potential victims.
If you think that banning your team from connecting to public networks will solve the problem, think again. Home networks can be just as unsecure, so if your team member’s Wi-Fi is targeted, you’re in trouble.
So securing your coworker’s internet is where a VPN is a great tool. Data traffic encryption means that even when your teams are connected to public Wi-Fi, their data stays encrypted. The same goes for other insecure networks such as home Wi-Fi or cellular data networks.
Static IP addresses are one of the pillars of the business VPN technology. They provide a crucial feature for remote access VPNs — a whitelist, which is an online equivalent of a VIP list. Only those on the list are allowed in. Just like with email whitelisting, IP whitelisting enables you to filter out anyone else. So, how does it work, exactly?
As a business VPN administrator, you are able to assign a static IP address to everyone on your team. Then, enable only specific IP addresses to access particular business resources. This way, whitelisting provides two main functions — authorization and access management.
Authorization. By whitelisting only specific IP addresses, you’re ensuring that not only specific persons can connect to business resources. You’re also making sure that they can do so only when connected to a VPN. In other words, only when their connection is secure.
Access management. Another great asset of dedicated IP addresses is managing which specific employees can access sensitive information. Instead of issuing one IP to the whole team, you can have two or more. Use one for accessing specific tools like project management software, and the other for more sensitive data. This way, you can organize which coworkers or departments can connect to which resources.
For example, the cloud-based NordVPN Teams enable you to create dedicated organization gateways, each with specific sets of servers and IP addresses. You can create and assign specific members to specific gateways. This helps you guarantee that each employee can access precisely the tools they need for work.
Cloud-based VPNs offer servers in more than one location, so you and your team can explore international content. When a user connects to a VPN server, it’s not just their IP that changes. It’s also their virtual location, depending on where the server is based. From the moment they connect to a server in France, they can access content exclusive to this country.
This opens up a plethora of possibilities. Without leaving their own home, workers can virtually hop from one country to another in a matter of seconds. Let’s take a look at some of the cases where changing the virtual location of your team can be beneficial.
International workers can access the same content as you. Is your company based in Canada while your employees are spread across the globe? By connecting to the servers in the same country, your team will be able to reach online content otherwise unavailable in their region.
Research markets abroad. Looking to start a new marketing campaign in a foreign country? Use VPN servers to find out what’s trending in different regions. This can help you better understand the market you’re entering and monitor what’s happening abroad.
Quality assurance. Can your website or service be accessed in any region without a hitch? VPN service can help you ensure that your service is running smoothly no matter where your clients are based. The same goes for developing geo-restrictions aimed at particular countries. Check if the restrictions work in a matter of seconds by connecting to different locations.
Cloud vs. hardware VPNs
So, if you decide to go for a VPN, there are still some questions to cover. Where should you start? There are countless business VPN solutions to choose from, so how do you know what the right fit for your organization is?
Let’s start with the basics. In general, there are two types of VPNs — hardware and software. Hardware VPNs are physical devices with their own processor and firewall. The software version usually comes as an application that needs to be installed on employees’ work devices.
Both software and hardware cover most of the same functions — traffic encryption, static dedicated IPs, and remote access. However, they have significant differences in their setup, cost, scalability, and functionality.
Let’s start with hardware VPNs. Most of them are geared for larger corporations with more resources. The setup of the hardware can get quite complicated, so it requires a skilled IT team to install and configure it properly.
The same goes for maintenance and scalability — you can’t update it anytime. Hardware VPNs have no user interface, so any changes to the device have to be done manually. Furthermore, if you want to scale the VPN, you will probably need to buy more hardware devices. Hardware VPN devices have to be set up one by one, so scaling can turn into a lengthy process.
This all factors into the cost of the hardware. The devices can get quite expensive, especially in the beginning or if you choose to scale. However, if you have proper support from a professional IT department and no plans for major scaling, hardware VPN may be the option for you.
Now, to software or cloud-based VPNs. Usually, cloud-based services require much less know-how, so you don’t need a dedicated IT team to set it up. In most cases, users can do it themselves. This is great if you’re onboarding new employees remotely — it’s enough to download the app and turn it on.
Maintenance and scalability also come easier. With a cloud-based VPN, you can install the software update to get security patches and new features instantly. The same goes for scalability. In most cases, the VPN service provider will take care of expanding your server network. Additional servers will bump up the price of your service, but the process will be smoother and cheaper.
The number of server locations is also where cloud-based VPNs are likely to outdo hardware. While hardware can be configured to provide a specific virtual location, cloud-based services will likely have a wider server network.
All in all, cloud-based VPNs are cheaper, more scalable, and way more flexible. This makes them suitable for organizations of any size. Since the setup does not require a dedicated IT team, they’re especially useful for small and medium-sized businesses.
How does NordVPN Teams work?
NordVPN Teams is a cloud-based VPN, so it comes with all the benefits: it’s easy and fast to set up, update, and use.
You can set up NordVPN Teams in your organization within a day, which makes it especially useful if you’re making a sudden shift to remote work. Maintaining the service also doesn’t take a lot of effort. You simply update the software as new features and improvements come out.
Managing the VPN service in your company is also quite simple. As an administrator, you get access to the VPN software control panel. From there, you can manage user accounts, create company gateways with sets of static IPs, control access permissions, and add servers in new locations.
Your remote employees can download the software onto the devices they’re working on and install it with a few clicks. The apps are available on Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS.
Once your coworkers have the app installed, they can connect to your organization gateways or shared gateways with one click. Shared gateways are available in 30+ countries, so your employees can explore international content across the globe. To ensure that they don’t forget to use it, NordVPN Teams has an auto-connect option.
This is not to say that VPN services solve all security and remote work challenges. You may need additional safeguards to protect your organization and sensitive data. However, VPNs are an essential part of remote work. Whether all your team is remote by design or it’s just a few employees that travel a lot, you need a VPN. It enables you to provide a secure and flexible working environment for your employees, wherever they’re based.
About the author:
NordVPN Teams is a cloud-based business VPN. It provides instant secure access to company resources for your employees on any of their devices. NordVPN Teams’ servers are based in 30+ countries, ensuring your coworkers can explore international content without limits. For more information about NordVPN Teams, visit https://nordvpnteams.com/.