VPNs are an essential part of IT security policy in many enterprises. Unfortunately, with the variety of mobile device applications available today, empowering remote worker efficiencies while preventing risky network behavior is a challenge. Businesses are struggling to find a one-size-fits-all approach to providing these users with a secure network access solution.
What is necessary is a well-planned VPN that fits with the company's organization, decision-making processes, workplace decentralization and their many deployment requirements. There is a range of VPN market choices available today. Let's examine these choices, as well as the considerations enterprises should bear in mind when selecting the technology that best fits their unique security needs-without impacting mobility or efficiency.
Creating a VPN checklist
Implementing a VPN, especially one that is scalable and future-proof, requires planning. Basic decision criteria should include the mode of work (mobile or in-office), the working environment (single user or networked PC), the communication relationships (dial-in or dial-out) and the mode of operation (autonomous or through a provider-an outsourced network).
To build the optimal VPN for their enterprise, network administrators should bear the following seven questions in mind:
1. How many employees are able to work with the system, mobile or stationary? This can affect the development of the central VPN gateway or number of simultaneous connections to the tunnel.
2. From which locations will the company network be accessed? Is this local, regional, national or international? This can also affect the transmission network (that is, WLAN, LAN and Wi-Fi).
3. Which devices will be used to access the network remotely (that is, desktop PCs, laptops and handhelds)? Enterprises need to ensure that the VPN clients can support the operating systems in place.
4. Do teleworking employees alternate and divide their time between the office and the home? This could impact the scope of services provided by the VPN client.
5. Which applications will be used on the remote computer? Will the efficiency of the remote device be affected? The enterprise needs to consider the type of transmission medium or the connection point that enables Internet access.
6. Which security level is necessary? What type of data will be transmitted? What security policies are currently in place for remote workers? User authentication is a factor for the enterprise.
7. Can central IT components such as user-defined databases, RADIUS directory services, etc., be used? This will help the organization identify the level of support and compatibility of standards.