Vehicle VPNs, Part Two: Business World Implications

by VPNHaus | 11/04/2013

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 to important resources, rising productivity, etc. So VPN providers have had to keep up with these trends and make sure they could secure each of these connections, whether it’s an employee using a tablet to access company servers from an airport Wi-Fi hotspot or a smartphone using an LTE network anywhere in the world.

The leading VPNs available today can not only secure virtually any device using any connection medium, but maintain secure connections as they traverse from one to the next (i.e., airport Wi-Fi to LTE cellular network to hotel Wi-Fi).

Where VPNs Fit in the Auto Industry

When it comes to the modern automotive industry, all of the major car manufacturers such as Ford, Chrysler, GM, BMW, Mercedes, Volkswagen and Toyota have repeatedly emphasized their intentions to make their vehicles Internet-friendly. In Frankfurt, BMW has already unveiled a sedan equipped with an LTE router for up to eight devices. In 2015, a new Wi-Fi standard (IST-G5) specifically developed for use in vehicles is expected to follow. But what does this mean for the business world in terms of remote access?

Let’s say you’re on a business trip, and you’ve lost your laptop or smartphone. You’re heading to a big meeting, and you need to access an important file on your company’s internal network, but you don’t have an endpoint with a secure connection.  A connected car allows you to access the Internet, but a vehicle VPN enables you to safely and securely access the company network from that car without compromising any sensitive information stored on those servers. You’re able to go to that meeting armed with the data you needed.

This is just one example where vehicle VPNs can make all of the difference in the world. What’s more, with car manufacturers planning to roll out software updates for engine control and car electronics systems via Internet and cloud data centers, VPNs will help prevent hackers from doing damage to your corporate network by first compromising those car systems through other means.

As we previously mentioned, if it’s connected to the Internet, cyber criminals will try to hack it. Using a VPN to secure your car is no different than using one to safeguard the connections initiated from your smartphone or tablet. Any device, as small as an iPhone or as large as an SUV, should be equipped with the best security features before remotely accessing a corporate network.