A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a useful tool that encrypts data before it passes across the public Internet and then decrypts it when it reaches its destination. Rather like shutters on the windows of a house, it shields what goes on inside even though the outside can be seen by everyone in the street. The process, often referred to as tunneling, is particularly useful for businesses whose workers have to use the Internet in public places like coffee shops or airports. It is also helpful for those who want to keep confidential customer information or intellectual property safe from the prying eyes of hackers and spies. In 2017, the U.S. Trump administration overturned regulations preventing ISPs from making money from users’ browser data. At the same time in the UK, the Investigatory Powers Act served to increased government surveillance of Internet activity in response to a heightened threat of terrorism. Both led to a surge in interest in VPNs. A VPN is an established technology that has traditionally been seen as the province of technical specialists. Perhaps because of this, and in spite of VPN services becoming easier to deploy, a number of enduring myths persist.
Two of the biggest technology trends today – IoT (Internet of Things) and M2M (machine-to-machine) communications – are changing the business world beyond all recognition.
Companies of all sizes, from major manufacturers to small-and medium-sized services companies from all sectors, now have a golden opportunity to derive new revenue streams from managing and servicing their customers’ equipment remotely.
According to leading industry analysts, the IoT market already accounts for hundreds of billions of dollars in 2017 – a figure that is set to be in the trillions by 2021. But new research reveals IoT is also a major headache for enterprise everywhere because of limited information and inadequate security measures. Legislators in the U.S. and in Europe are working to bring in standards compelling designers to do more to make their devices secure. But the signs are that even then they may be limited in scope. The good news at least is that remote connections can be reliably secured so that M2M communications remains private and confidential using virtual private networks (VPNs).
Internet of Things (IoT) and machine learning are coming together to bring about a sea change in how we use buildings, at home and at the office. Smart infrastructure makes domestic households more energy efficient and allows companies to optimize their real estate. Almost every large enterprise and government organization is currently working on smart infrastructure projects at some level. It’s no surprise that the market for smart buildings is expected to increase four-fold by 2021. The pursuit of greater efficiency and convenience, however, introduces new risks. Many IoT devices and management systems still run on legacy software and lack any kind of security standards. This makes them vulnerable to attacks by hackers. The answer is to build-in cyber-resilience from the beginning starting with securing all connection points using virtual private networks (VPNs).
Major sporting events are always popular with businesses. The 2018 World Cup tournament in Russia promises to be no exception. The corporate sponsorship opportunities on offer are an ideal way to entertain influential decision-makers of important customers and prospects. Set against this are recent reports of Russia’s tough new internet censorship laws – set to come into effect from November 1, 2017. The move is a security concern for Western company executives anxious that employees and VIPs visiting the event may be unable to prevent sensitive information being exposed to Russia’s extensive surveillance network. The good news is that the new regulation only blocks access to web services and online information that are outlawed already and does not extend to personal or legitimate business Virtual Private Network (VPN) use. With a corporate VPN and some simple guidelines it should be possible for visiting executives to conduct business over the Internet securely during World Cup 2018.
Starting May 2018, any business offering goods and services to EU citizens will have to comply with new GDPR rules. These rules explicitly require companies to take all measures necessary to protect the integrity of consumer data that they process or store. A key principle of GDPR is “privacy by default” which requires the digital information in everything from emails and mobile apps to cloud storage systems and M2M communications to be kept private and secure at all times. Studies show that U.S. organizations are no less committed to compliance as those in the EU. One of the most powerful protection measures a company can take is to encrypt data at every stage – in use, in motion and in storage. A tried and tested way to transport sensitive personal data securely across public networks is via business-grade VPNs. VPNs provide an encrypted tunnel to communicate privately between email and mobile connections as well as internal databases and cloud storage facilities.