Almost everyone in business has reason to be grateful for the existence of SWIFT, the international banking and funds transfer network. VPNs have a crucial role in SWIFT’s security, but following a series of successful attacks over the past 12 months it appears that not all banks – especially ones in less developed economies – have made security their top priority. The answer may lie with regulators insisting that VPNs are used not just in the core of the SWIFT network, but also as part of improvements to security measures at its outer limits.
“Between the mind that plans and the hands that build there must be a Mediator, and this must be the heart.” This famous line from Germany’s 1927 masterpiece, Metropolis, continues to resonate today.
Most people in the Western world regard privacy as one of most fundamental rights in a democratic society. They also take it for granted that these democratic principles apply equally to the Internet. This is why the exposure of the NSA’s PRISM program in 2013 highlighting the extent of Internet surveillance by the US authorities was such a scandal.
High profile data breaches at companies like Mossack Fonseca, Target, Home Depot and Wendy’s along with Government controversies like Edward Snowden and the FBI’s legal suit against Apple after the San Bernadino shootings have severely dented public confidence in the ability of business and government to keep personal data safe and secure.
The average company network has many more devices connecting to it than even just a few years ago. In addition to traditional workstations there are now smartphones and tablets alongside a wide variety of Internet-connected equipment from printers, access control systems and security cameras to digital signage, smart TVs, thermostats and even everyday appliances like coffee machines. In situations where digital signage shares the network with such a diverse range of devices and applications use of software-based site-to-site VPNs are often the best way to ensure security, signal continuity and optimize flexibility.
Tor (The Onion Router) is one of the most important tools for anonymity on the Internet. The Tor network, protocol and client, make it extremely complicated to trace user activity. However, Tor users are not completely invisible. Firstly, only the connection to the exit node – the last server before traffic leaves the Tor network – is encrypted. Whoever controls the exit node can see data traffic in plain text. Meanwhile attacks and statistical analysis methods are known which can allow an organization with access to large parts of global Internet traffic to de-anonymize users in some cases. Nevertheless, Tor can protect users against the curiosity of most unauthorized parties if it is configured correctly. And a better solution is currently not available – at least not for the average computer user.