There’s an unprecedented rise in the number of people working from home since the sudden outbreak of coronavirus all across the world. This has also led to a sudden increase in the usage of Virtual Private Network ( VPN) in spite of its challenges. According to a report by ExpressVPN, India itself witnessed a growth of 15% in VPN usage since end-February. Research by VPN vendor Atlas shows that VPN usage in the U.S. grew by 53% between March 9 and 15, and it could grow faster.
But, the million-dollar question still remains unanswered for me, Is VPN an ideal work from home solution?
Twenty years ago, the corporate network was relatively simple. Security meant protecting applications inside the network and also building a secured fence around them. Gradually, applications moved to the cloud, and enterprises lost control over the network. Users started to work off-network from anywhere and from any device. Remote access VPNs did very well in the network-centric world, but not in the age of cloud and mobility. Things now revolves around the user, application, and the device.
I have been on the hunt to find out the best alternatives to VPN in the market. There are quite a few out there which are comparatively more efficient than VPN – RDS, VDI ( Virtual Desktop infrastructure)MPLS [Multiprotocol Label Switching], Managed solutions, DAAS and few others.
Every solution comes with certain challenges. The best work from home solution is definitely the one which is most suitable for your work environment. Its also the one which helps you in increasing productivity, security and gives you the fastest deployment that’s the most needed in this pandemic situation. Let me throw some light on what are the real challenges of VPN as a work from home solution.
What are the real challenges of VPN as a work from home solution?
VPN is far from foolproof. It has a complex infrastructure, is susceptible to attacks, and leads to loss of productivity. VPN works well for use cases where end-users get access to the corporate network, typically from approved corporate-managed devices only. VPN has several disadvantages which an enterprise should take into account before considering VPN as a work from solution.
No Malware Defense
During this lockdown, I have seen NASA and many other big corporations in India in the news. They have been under the threat of malware attacks. People who access cloud-based services like G suites, salesforce benefit the least from the VPN. VPN poses more risk than not using one at all. This is a haven for phishing scams and malware attacks.
The users are typically local administrators on their personal devices. We rarely create any secondary user account for our day to day job roles. This makes us way more susceptible to malware attacks. The majority of malware attacks need admin rights to infest a system. Users who work from home, work as per their convenience and comfort, usually do not place any restrictions.
Difficult to set up VPN correctly
It is rare that people speak about the difficulties of setting up VPN correctly. But, during my research on the challenges of setting up VPN, this was definitely an eye-opener. Setting up VPN with everything working perfectly is a herculean task. IT is similar to opening up all the company’s network ports to any application on the remote user’s personal device. This requires a full-blown network security audit. From breaking the networks into sub-networks to reinforcing passwords, closing unnecessary ports, all this security preparation required to deploy VPN is a separate project in itself.
2- 3 weeks is the minimum time required to set up VPN correctly. A significant amount of time is required to test and provision the VPN which is usually done by the IT department. And this VPN testing is done even before any server access or application is tested. This 2 step slows down work and involves vendor support technicians who are not aware of the applications or vendors’ use case for getting access in the first place.
Less productive workforce
Slow VPN access is a major issue in VPN connection and this in return leads to decrease in productivity. Unfortunately, adding more VPN servers is not a solution, as the underlying issue is often more complicated. Contributing factors can include a network segment design problem, outdated security policies, and home networks that impede VPN traffic.
Also, It is worth noting in my research that VPN service providers will provide you with less speed, 5% to 8% less of your regular internet connection speed. This speed reduction is mostly due to the encryption process that the VPN service provider does to make your network secure. Few other reasons for the slow down can be – how far the VPN server is from you, how powerful is your CPU, how the VPN routes your traffic etc.
IT administrators try various measures to increase the speed but that also comes with compromising security. It’s definitely a hard choice to make between the security and speed, isn’t it?
No third-party accountability
I believe monitoring traffic and checking for security threats is the crucial step in VPN and this should be done prudently at regular intervals. We cannot rely on the third party who may have their own logs. We may need a dedicated personnel to check logs and configure automated alerts. It’s become common to notice malicious software hitting the perimeter firewalls from the internet, but the biggest risk is from the unnoticed attacks, which is often from third parties or within the business which is difficult to identify until the last moment.
Even with the centralized access to all the historical data on the connection, the user, applications accessed, the reason for access, etc, it becomes impossible to prove who has created a certain breach or issue or if that issue has been created by a third party.
Work from home is here to stay and will outlast the lockdown, so the enterprises should weigh their work from home options and choose the most viable solution. One of the most promising and up-to-the-minute solution in the market available now is VPNless VDI. EnCloudEn VPNless VDI is an alternative to VPN which is more secure, faster and can be deployed in just 2 days. This is a perfect solution for enterprises who wish to overcome the challenges of VPN. Learn more : https://enclouden.com/workfromhome/