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Affordable VPN Options For Your Remote Staff

As many organizations are striving to make teleworking as normal as possible, there is a large focus on the implementation of new tools and software. Most team members are fully remote and on their own wireless network, making a VPN a must-have.

What is VPN?

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) extends the private network of your office, as well as giving remote users the ability to send and receive data across the internet as if their devices were directly connected to the office network. In essence, a VPN provider is a service that encrypts your internet traffic and protects your online identity.

Why is it needed?

VPN is mainly used by organizations for two purposes:

  • Encryption of all your internet traffic into a virtual tunnel. Therefore, any data being sent over the internet is protected.
  • Allows users to communicate with office servers, printers and other devices in a secure fashion. The alternative would be to open these devices to the World Wide Web, which can be a huge security liability.

There are a variety of ways to implement a VPN for your (virtual) office:

Office Hardware

The cheapest would be to check if your networking equipment – particularly your office firewall – already offers VPN support. Most firewalls do have this capability, though there tends to be license fees involved. However, there are free open source software options like OpenVPN that can be used as the client. The drawback of this approach is that this solution is not scalable beyond a few dozen users. Routing all that bi-directional traffic through your office internet can be a bottleneck. Furthermore, it may also not support mobile devices and the client installation process can be cumbersome for some users.

Cloud Based

There are some very robust enterprise grade VPN providers like Perimeter81 that are completely cloud based, but integrate with your office network and provide single sign on capability. If you have multiple locations or lots of users, this is a great solution to consider.

If you have a good network engineer on staff, you can setup your own cloud based VPN service with OpenVPN, and it can be almost free.

Third-Party Service

You can always use an enterprise VPN provider such as NordVPN, which actually even has separate offerings for businesses. The advantage is that for a low monthly cost you get a scalable solution that supports all devices. It is even relatively easy to adopt into your organization.

Technically, this does not connect directly to your office firewall, and there are per-user-licensing-costs that come with this option. Despite that, you are getting a dedicated IP address, which allows you to open your firewall to only allow traffic from that particular IP address.

Cloudflare Access

Cloudflare AccessWith most business applications now hosted in the cloud, many offices have very little if any servers hosted in the office. The need for VPN is typically to encrypt traffic and to control access to cloud applications. In such a scenario a very easy to implement solution is offered by Cloudflare Access. This is not really a stand-alone VPN but more so a very easy to configure solution to control access to all your corporate applications via a web firewall interface. As long as the URL is controlled by Cloudflare DNS, you are able to control access to that application. It lets you use multiple authentication methods like G Suite, Office 365 or simple email based tokens that allows for fine grained control of who has access.

Best of all Cloudflare Access is free to use till September 2020, and has a reasonable $5/user cost after that date.

Ensure The Safety of Your Organizational Data

If your organization already has a VPN in place, great! Consider having your IT department test your network to ensure the performance and availability of your VPN client. Furthermore, make sure Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is in place to prevent phishing attacks against your organization.

Now more than ever is the time to make sure your organization is taking the necessary steps to ensure safety as we all work remotely. Setting up a VPN is an easy process that will go a long way in protecting your confidential data.

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Manav Kher

Manav Kher

The official gear-head of fusionSpan. Manav has over 14 years of enterprise software development experience. Previously he spent 7 years in various lead development and architect roles at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Notably, he contributed to the architecture and development of some of the core components of the caBIG infrastructure, for which he received the NCI caBIG Outstanding Achievement Award.
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