Sending information over the public Internet can be risky, not to mention slow. Yet providing remote access to critical business information is often necessary for small businesses looking to accelerate growth. Whether your growth strategy involves enabling telecommuters and traveling employees or providing external partners with limited access to resources on your network, you need to ensure secure remote access so technological problems don’t interfere with business growth.
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are often the technology of choice for secure network connections with remote workers or partners. VPNs—specifically, Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) VPNs—enable end users to open a Web browser and enter a login and password to access corporate applications and data. The technology acts like a traffic cop, allowing and denying access to corporate servers based on who the person is and what he or she needs to see. In addition to checking credentials, the technology communicates with the end user’s computer to create a secure, encrypted tunnel between the end user’s location and the corporate network so traffic is secured while it traverses the Internet.
Companies have a number of options when it comes to setting up remote access VPNs. First, you can buy the technology yourself, though this can be expensive. Alternatively, many managed service providers will offer remote access solutions that eliminate the management headache.
These providers can also offer enhanced performance and security features. For higher performance, look for providers with WAN optimization services that can accelerate access to enterprise applications, such as ERP and file transfers. For advanced security, providers can offer solutions to protect sensitive corporate data from common Internet security threats, such as botnets, worms, and Trojans. These attacks have become highly customized, often targeting employees working from laptops or their home PCs.
Finally, cloud-based solutions are a good option—an attractive price point and easy to use. A cloud-based approach from a managed service provider is often the best way for smaller businesses to enjoy the feature sets largely reserved for medium-to-large corporations, without breaking the bank.
Vice-President for Customer Solutions
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