Open Haus: Friendly Net Detection

The prevalence of remote work has climbed steadily over the last decade thanks to advances in technology and attitudes towards the practice. According to Global Workplace Analytics, teleworking has increased about 80 percent between 2005 and 2012. Still, only a few million Americans consider their home, or somewhere other than an office, to be their primary place of work. What’s holding remote work back? A lot of it is cultural, as well as logistical, but there are also lingering security concerns. Despite the convenience of the practice, accessing the corporate network remotely doesn’t carry with it quite the same guarantee that a user’s end-to-end connection to the network is entirely secure. That’s why NCP engineering’s Remote Access VPN solution is equipped with Friendly Net Detection (FND), a technology that automatically recognizes safe, friendly networks or unsafe, unfriendly networks, no matter where the user may be, thereby protecting end devices against Internet attacks via 3G/4G, Wi-Fi and LAN. How it Works FND is a component of all NCP Secure VPN Clients, and since the FND server is installed independent of the VPN gateway, it’s therefore agnostic to any particular operating system or third-party vendor gateway. Once installed, the FND client is configured within the VPN client’s firewall settings. The feature works by forcing the network to identify itself to the end user’s device, and then dynamically activating or deactivating the appropriate firewall rules and security mechanisms, depending on whether it’s a known/secure/friendly network or an unknown/insecure/unfriendly network. If the FND client is successful in its attempt to contact and authenticate the FND server, then it can confirm that the device...

Remote Workers Demand VPNs

With more companies going global, and more employees spread across multiple geographic locations, the demand for remote access technologies has never been greater. The good news is that telecommuting has the potential to be mutually beneficial to the increasingly mobile workforce and their companies. Remote employees believe they are more productive with a flexible schedule that allows them to work both in the office and at home, whenever they need to, and their employers obviously stand to benefit from this increased productivity. As Jeffrey Burt of eWeek explains, “Greater worker mobility is one of the key trends…changing the way corporate IT works.” The current situation BYOD is here to stay, that much has been known for several years now. However, thanks to research recently conducted by Pertino, we have a better understanding of exactly what it is that employees are looking for in terms of working remotely. One interesting revelation from the study is, though people want their jobs to fit their more flexible lifestyles, there are still some lingering frustrations with remote access to corporate networks that are falling behind the times, and are unable to deliver an optimized telecommuting experience. In fact, a shocking 77 percent of survey respondents are not completely satisfied with the remote access capabilities they’re given, and 30 percent said they don’t have any remote access at all. That’s a major problem, as 99 percent said “they need to be able to access business files and applications via their computer or mobile device if they’re to get their jobs done.” Reading between the lines, it’s clear that there is substantial room for improvement...

Vehicle VPNs, Part Two: Business World Implications

In recent years, remote access security has become a major focus of IT departments in businesses small and large. The rapid growth in the use of smartphones and tablet computers, the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend and an increasing number of companies allowing employees to work from home have all but assured this. VPNs, as such, have become widely popular as a means of securing those data tunnels between end devices and internal corporate networks. But now, there’s another endpoint that requires the attention of IT managers: cars. Actually, to be more specific, “connected cars.” In a previous blog post, we discussed the continuing evolution of connected cars and how vehicle VPNs can help prevent critical security breaches. The vulnerabilities we covered focused on travel safety and machine-to-machine (M2M) concerns in people’s homes. Today, we’ll take a look at the more business-oriented issues at play and their implications on the corporate world. The Basics of Remote Access Let’s start with the same basic principle that applies to remote access everywhere: a corporate network is only as secure as the device and communications channel used to access it. VPNs have long been used to secure communications between laptops and private company networks across many industries. In most cases, employees were using company-issued laptops. In the last five years, however, we’ve seen a paradigm shift where more and more people are using personal laptops as well as smartphones and tablet computers to work from outside the office. BYOD certainly created a few headaches for IT departments when it came to security, but the benefits were too substantial to ignore — flexibility, improved access...

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 Remote Working Programs Boost Employee Morale, Productivity

There has been a lot of attention paid to remote working policies as of late, most notably with regard to Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s declaration that the company’s employees are no longer to work from home. Since then, the debate has certainly had its time in the spotlight, with people on both sides at odds about whether allowing individuals to work remotely promotes productivity or laziness. In truth, the answer comes down to the type of people you have working for you. But, human resources concerns aside, the advantages of remote working capabilities cannot be denied. Whether one is traveling for business or at home with a sick child, mobile technology has become a centerpiece of the modern working world. It allows us to accomplish objectives that were previously unattainable. It provides greater flexibility for those with families to pursue career advancement without sacrificing a healthy home life. It helps employees on business trips stay connected to what’s going on back at their office rather than having to spend several days catching up once they return from the road. This all serves to promote a happier, healthier and more productive workforce. In fact, a recent study conducted by Staples Advantage, the business-to-business division of Staples, Inc., revealed that telecommuting programs actually reduce both stress and absenteeism, and boost company morale. Of those surveyed, 93 percent said that remote working policies are mutually beneficial for employer and employee, and more than half of respondents identifying themselves as business decision makers agreed that these programs lead to improved productivity. Perhaps, rather than banning employees from working remotely, companies should focus on...