VPN Best Practices for Remote Workers
A VPN or virtual private network gives you a way to connect to the internet privately. Previously, VPNs are regarded as something that only tech geeks bother with. However, public perception and consumer needs have definitely evolved. As a result, VPNs are now a staple for everyone who wants to be able to access the web securely. Comprehensive VPN reviews can be found everywhere on the internet, and it’s an indication of how it’s now essential in today’s web-surfing culture.
If the pandemic has pushed you towards working remotely, there’s a big chance that you’d end up using a VPN while working from home. Many companies have transitioned their employees into remote work as a response to this unique and challenging situation we’re all in.
Unfortunately, the rapidity with which the pandemic unfolded means that lots of employees have been thrust into a work-from-home setup without adequate security training.
For instance, are you aware that there’s a set of best practices that you should follow while using a VPN? While most VPNs are pretty easy to set up and use, there are habits you can adopt to make sure that you aren’t compromising your work devices and company information.
Curious what those are? Read on to find out!
How does a VPN work?
Before we dive into the best VPN practices for remote work, let’s quickly discuss how VPNs work.
For the uninitiated, a VPN serves as a middleman between you (the user) and the internet. Instead of you connecting directly to the web and communicating with it, you’re doing it through your VPN’s private server instead.
As a result, your information is sent through an encrypted virtual tunnel that helps you remain anonymous on the internet. The tunnel also keeps hackers and other cybercriminals at bay and prevents them from accessing and stealing your data.
VPNs also hide your IP address. So when you access a website, the website will see the VPN’s info instead of yours. This allows people to surf the web under different IP addresses, making it easier to circumvent geographical content restrictions and other such limitations.
VPN best practices for remote work 1. Study your company’s cybersecurity policy
Having a clear and comprehensive cybersecurity policy is a must for companies that allow remote work, especially those that deal with lots of sensitive information. If your company has made the transition from on-site work to telecommuting, chances are you also have a cybersecurity policy in place.
Now, the issue is whether you have been thoroughly exposed to this policy. If your managers weren’t able to hold a dedicated security training because strict lockdowns had been imposed in your area unexpectedly, taking on the task yourself is a responsible move.
Find out what your company’s policies are and make sure to follow them. Pay close attention to security protocols and device usage guidelines so you don’t end up as an entry-point for hackers who might hijack your company’s network. Oftentimes, policies will also outline what must be done should a security breach take place or if your device gets lost, and it’s definitely going to help everyone if you familiarize yourself with it.
2. Always keep your VPN updated
Earlier this year, the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency released an enterprise VPN security alert in response to the massive shift toward remote work due to the pandemic. It details the security threats that are connected to VPN use in a remote workforce.
According to the alert, organizations are left vulnerable to threats when they fail to keep VPNs updated with the latest security patches. To counter this risk, it’s crucial to regularly and promptly update your VPN whenever new patches and configurations are available. The same can be said for updates on the devices you use when working remotely.
3. Be consistent
It only takes one security breach to compromise your data. You could be using your VPN regularly and observing all the best practices 90% of the time, but a single successful attack that goes through during the remaining 10% is enough to put your devices and information at risk.
This is why it’s essential to be consistent with your VPN use. When you’re working from remote locations or traveling, it’s easy to forget to connect through your VPN, especially when you’re doing lighter tasks like sending emails and using messaging apps during off-hours. Aside from getting into the habit of connecting through your VPN every time you perform important tasks, setting up your VPN so that it automatically connects should help.
4. Be wary of your bandwidth
When using your company’s remote VPN, being mindful of VPN bandwidth will go a long way.
A remote VPN only has so much bandwidth to go around. If you’re sharing it with lots of other users, you want to make sure that everyone can use it when they need it. If you’re just streaming something on Hulu or video conferencing with a friend, you would want to disconnect from the VPN. This frees up precious bandwidth for, say, a coworker who needs to send important work files while working from a cafe.
It’s all about prioritizing important functions to maximize your organization’s remote VPN. Making a conscious effort to preserve bandwidth for crucial tasks will ensure a smooth and secure working environment for everyone in your team.
5. Use 2FA/MFA and strong passwords
Lastly, it always helps to go back to basics and make sure that the fundamentals are in place. Use a strong password when using your organization’s VPN. Avoid using something generic or common. Even better, implement two-factor or multi-factor authentication to increase your security even further.
The bottom line
Considering the latest trends in remote working and telecommuting, it’s safe to say that we all, at some point, will have to perform work-related duties outside the typical office environment. This puts you and your organization at risk of security threats and other privacy-related issues.
To mitigate these risks, companies can make their workforce use remote VPNs. However, in order to be truly effective at promoting privacy and security, it’s important for all employees to follow a set of best practices to ensure that threats are kept at bay.