Technology Tip of the Week by Dave Pelland
Dave Pelland has extensive experience covering the business use of technology, networking and communications tools by companies of all sizes. Dave's editorial and corporate experience includes more than 10 years editing an electronic technology and communications industry newsletter for a global professional services firm.
The growing use of mobile device within small businesses can improve productivity tremendously, but can also lead to increased security risks. To help companies of all sizes strike an appropriate balance between mobile productivity and security, a growing range of mobile VPN applications have been developed that help secure connections and data being accessed on mobile devices.
Virtual private network (VPN) technology has long been used by laptop-carrying business travelers looking to establish secure connections with their company networks from the road. The VPN software establishes an encrypted connection between the traveler’s device and a gateway on the company’s network, and this secure connection prevents the data being exchanged with a Wi-Fi hotspot from being intercepted.
Remote users are able to access files and other network resources as if they were logged into the server physically, which significantly reduces the chance of sensitive information being compromised if the network is accessed at a public Wi-Fi hotspot.
Mobile VPN apps extend the same type of protection to users accessing corporate resources via a tablet or smartphone using a Wi-Fi connection. VPN apps provide secure web browsing and data access, allowing users to extend their productivity while they are on the road without compromising sensitive information.
Although broadband connections over wireless networks are inherently more secure than Wi-Fi networks, there can be times when using a Wi-Fi hotspot is a more practical choice. In those instances, mobile VPN services help provide the appropriate level of security and protection.
Customized for Mobility
While mobile VPN applications provide the same level of security as full-featured VPN tools or services, most do so through simpler interfaces designed to reflect the specific needs of mobile users.
For example, mobile VPN applications include web-based administrative tools that are easy to configure and update, allowing small business owners to easily establish a blend of mobile devices and operating systems.
Similarly, business owners can also establish device-specific access rights to ensure team members only can only reach authorized folders or files via their mobile devices.
Some mobile VPN services rely on the installation of small applications on the user’s device, while others handle the required security procedures through the device’s mobile browser.
In addition to permitting secure connections, VPN applications can also improve small business security by reducing the risk of a mobile device introducing malicious software or viruses over a public Wi-Fi connection.
By examining data as it is exchanged between a mobile device and the network, the VPN service can identify potentially malicious traffic and prevent its entry into the company network.
Many mobile VPN service providers also provide security configuration templates that can easily be customized to reflect your company’s specific industry or needs.
Some mobile VPN applications also attempt to distinguish between team members’ personal and company data, allowing them to axis the company network on their personal devices while still maintaining the appropriate degree of information protection.
Mobile VPN applications and services are typically available on a subscription basis, with fees depending on the number of users accessing the service.
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