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Smart work security tips: how a VPN can (and cannot) help

This year has forced many businesses to embrace smart working and smart tools to conduct their business. It has been a dramatic change for many, but also an interesting exercise of adaptability. The Covid19 pandemic will eventually be over – but it has taught us that technology can be very powerful. In dramatic work conditions, it can make a difference between businesses who go on and those that get left behind. While turning to smart work, many companies have turned to a common ally: the VPN. From a security perspective, this choice has both advantages, and disadvantages. 

Using a VPN for the challenges of remote work

As people have started working exclusively from home, all sorts of IT issues have arisen: accessibility, efficiency, data protection etc. This has put an old IT friend in the limelight: the VPN.

A VPN service allows remote workers to access secure online connections with a remote computer network from anywhere. VPNs create encrypted “tunnels” between a user’s device (mobile, tablet or computer) and a server connected to the internet. The main role of the VPN in the context of smart work is securing communication between the user and the business network.

Benefits and limitations of using a VPN

Businesses that embrace remote work use VPNs because they allow them to not leave a network open to outside traffic. Without a VPN, a business would have to open parts of their network to expose internal resources. That is of course not advisable in terms of data protection.

However, there are also many limitations to using a VPN:

  • A VPN does not resolve internal attacks: an attacker can steal someone’s VPN credentials and gain access to the network.
  • VPNs are quite complex and difficult to manage.
  • conventional VPNs are not optimized for mobile networks and mobile devices; internet coverage, battery life, and limited memory can create trouble when using a VPN.

The hidden costs of using a VPN

In addition to these limitations, the use of a VPN also brings some risks. While this can be a useful tool, one should be aware of these vulnerabilities too:
  • viruses and malware are still a threat;
  • a VPN slows down the connection speed by 10-35% (depending on the service);
  • there can be compatibility problems with client operating systems;
  • data safety: many companies use VPNs in cloud hosts, which means that data passes through servers outside company control;
  • to obtain an IP address from a country, the VPN must have servers located within that country; this creates problems for businesses that have multiple locations around the world.


The Syneto Remote Access Service – an alternative to the traditional VPN

Because we have noticed these challenges that our customers are facing, we have recently launched the Syneto Remote Access Service (RAS). This service is part of the Syneto Hybrid Cloud ecosystem and allows IT managers to easily configure safe access for remote workers to the corporate network. To find out more about how RAS works, download our dedicated solution brief: