A Closer Look at Cloud VPNs

Virtual Private Networks as a Service (VPNaaS), Managed Security Service Providers (MSSP) and Cloud Remote Access are different solutions addressing the same market requirement – the ability for remote employees to securely access corporate networks via the Internet with a managed solution.  Many enterprises have realized the benefits of using cloud services in other areas of their IT infrastructure. As a result, they no longer want to absorb the costs and management effort involved in hosting their own VPN gateways, especially ones with large numbers of remote endpoints. Striking a balance between giving remote employees the flexibility they desire while ensuring sensitive company data remains secure is admittedly a fine line to walk. Enterprises have faced that challenge for several years now as they’ve wrestled with the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movement. Factoring the cloud into the equation only compounds the complexity of the situation. That’s why many companies today are outsourcing the operation of the VPN to a cloud solutions provider such as HOSTING. However, not all VPNs are created equal, and enterprises need to carefully examine what a provider is offering. What to look for Be sure the provider offers simple, yet efficient management of your cloud-based VPN. For example, centrally managed VPNs give administrators the ability to easily set up, add or dele te users as needed. With this approach, all configuration parameters are centrally stored. This approach makes it substantially easier for end users to establish connections while making it nearly impossible for employees to bypass or manipulate them. Will end users need to reestablish a secure network connection each time their connection channel changes? If the...

Expert Q&A: Establishing a Secure Data Center and Cloud with Remote Access

*Editor’s Note: This is Part One of an article that originally appeared in The Data Center Journal’s  Industry Perspective Column By: Rainer Enders, VPN Expert and CTO, Americas, at NCP engineering: Industry Perspective: What are some of the main security concerns for data center managers today? Rainer Enders: The evolution of modern data centers, while beneficial for many reasons, is exposing serious security pain points along the way. For one, as data centers grow in size to keep up with enterprise computing needs, it becomes increasingly difficult for IT managers to adequately protect all corporate assets, which include everything from data and documentation to software and supplies. As capacity expands, data center managers are finding it harder to maintain critical IT compliance and security measures, such as managing and de-provisioning privileged user access, and running compliance reports that are growing in both depth and volume. Additionally, with the rising popularity of virtualized and cloud environments, data center managers are tasked with baking security into all compute, network, storage and hypervisor layers. This is a considerably difficult task, in light of the numerous emerging attack vectors that constantly increase in sophistication, such as ever-morphing advanced persistent threats (APTs) that are compromising critical corporate information. IP: What specific security challenges arise as companies outsource to the cloud and rely on remote services with increasing frequency? RE: The most critical security challenges that arise in cloud deployments are compromises to remote access connections—in the form of session-hijacking attacks, for example—and compromises of cloud-hosted resources, such as virtual machines, from within the hosted provider network. Insufficient security architectures and controls in operator networks can cause...

VPNs and Data Center Efficiency

By Nicholas Greene Data centers have long formed the backbone of our increasingly digital society. Without them, the technological lifeblood of our civilization essentially vanishes altogether. The fact is, we’re already incredibly reliant on computers and networking, and that’s not going to change any time soon. What will change – what is changing – is that we’re using the Internet for more and more, putting greater strain on and making increasingly difficult demands of the infrastructure that supports it. That’s the problem with a vital technology – it tends to experience extremely rapid growth. As a direct result, data centers are starting to grow at exponential rates simply to keep up with all the computing requests. This poses a very specific problem: it’s extremely easy for this rapid expansion to careen out of control, leaving an organization with a convoluted mess of poorly-implemented hardware and an application infrastructure that would frustrate most IT professionals.  Coupled with this is a considerable increase in the cost of operations.  Data centers now require more bandwidth and use more energy than ever before. That’s where VPNs come in. Powerful tools for efficiency in the business world, VPNs are equally valuable in the data center market for a number of reasons. First and foremost, a data center is typically either a self-contained business or one tendril of a larger organization. Proper implementation of a VPN vastly improves the productivity of an organization’s staff in either scenario. As I have discussed before, ease of communication, constant connectivity and increased mobility all lead to a marked increase in productivity, while the security offered by a VPN...

VPNs Enable Desktop Virtualization

By Bernd Reder As the workforce becomes increasingly mobile, the methods by which users access critical business tools must evolve in kind. In the past, the desktop environment and all of the resources it hosted were only accessible if an individual was sitting right in front of his or her computer. But now, with the advent of laptops, tablets and smartphones, we’re seeing a paradigm shift—one in which digital assets are no longer imprisoned by local hard drives. Virtual desktops allow employees to remotely access their traditional systems from any location, eliminating device storage concerns as well as numerous other headaches for IT managers. For example, if the IT department had to install a suitable desktop environment on every device used by every employee throughout the company, then provide technical support and roll out regular patches for each one, the workload would likely far exceed the department’s capacity. A Central Virtualized Desktop With virtual desktops, individuals working off-site can still access all the tools held within their office work stations, from the operating systems to essential applications and associated data. Not only is this more convenient for them, but it is more practical and less cumbersome for IT administrators. All sensitive information and tools are housed and managed in a secure location, mitigating the risks to company data if a security breach compromises an employee’s mobile device. All of the company resources being accessed remotely are stored in secure data centers. Rather than having to constantly update and patch the myriad of tablets and smartphones that workers use while outside the office, IT managers can focus on deploying security...