Are Remote Access VPNs Vulnerable for an Organizations Confidential Data?

How much are you familiar with VPN services? In fact, how much do you know about the protection of data, privacy, and security? With the fast pacing rise in cybercrimes today, it’s so important that we take active precautions to slow the pace down.

With that said, this applies to not just users who surf the internet, or for those who try to unblock geo-restricted streaming services, but mainly for all who are working remotely. Did you know that most cyberattacks are targeted at multi-national or companies whose employees are working from home? The rise was recorded especially during the peak of the Covid-19, when almost everyone was asked to work from home.

The reason why this situation is unsettling, is mostly because security systems change once you work outside the office. Security measures at the office are a whole lot more managed and controlled, which in not the case while working from home.

For this reason, most remote workers often make use of a VPN, or a remote access VPN, which is operated by connecting the entire workforce over one network. But, are remote access VPNs vulnerable for the protection of confidential and official data? We’ll get to that in a bit. First, let’s go over some of the basics.

What is a VPN?

A VPN, short for Virtual Private Network is a security software that is designed to secure your internet connection, and encrypt all data or online traffic that passes through the VPN and then to the internet.

When you’re connected to the VPN, all traffic is passed through an encrypted tunnel using protocols, which then encrypts and decrypts all data from sender to receiver. Using this, a remote worker can protect confidential data from being retrieved, hacked, stolen or logged by external parties. However, not all VPNs works the same. You will need a top VPN service if you’re planning on going for the best security.

Is a remote VPN any different? How does it work?

We now know what a VPN is, and how it works, but, is a remote access VPN any different from the regular? Yes, there are a few differences, but that mainly revolves around access points and set up regulations.

 A remote access VPN works slightly different by creating a secured and encrypted tunnel from the company’s network to the employee’s remote device. There is a specific server created that only employees can gain access to, called the Network Access Server (NAS), through verification of assigned accounts.

The NAS server acts like a dedicated server that all employees can connect to. Sometimes, it’s broken into 2 or 3 servers, dividing the number of users over it to avoid overcrowding. Every employee using the remote access VPN has to connect to the NAS with an authenticated login to access it.

To do so, you need to first download and install the VPN application on your device. Using a remote access VPN comes to a great advantage for most businesses, especially in the retrospect of data and device security. As mentioned above, the security system while working from home is far more different from working at the office where there is a controlled environment, and an IT team at hand.

However, this is where remote workers can access a secure checkpoint by connecting to the company’s remote access VPN. All data that is carried through the VPNs connections is secure and encrypted. Using a remote access VPN also comes in handy if the employees are on the move, and accidentally connect to an unknown public WiFi.

There are quite a few advantages around using a remote access VPN. Although, the question still comes down to whether there are any possible vulnerabilities linked to the compromisation of a company’s confidential data.

What vulnerabilities are endured using remote access VPNs?

Have you heard of an RCE attack? It stands for remote code execution, and is usually an attack or threat that is illegally registered to manipulate and access a computers system and server. It can take place even without authorization from the owner, where a system and all its data can be hijacked.

Besides this, there are other risks that come with the trait of using a remote access VPN. Sometimes, the issue or vulnerabilities caused don’t only revolve around the software you use, but rather on your WiFi connection, your device, and who all have access to your device and data.

If there are many people using your device, and happen to enter a website that is malicious that too without any precautions, it might cause issues. What could happen is that your device and data will get compromised.

Secondly, if you’re using a remote device for both official and personal use, and happen to poorly secure your accounts, it leaves the door open for hacking. It’s why users are encourages to either use different devices, or create extremely strong passwords.

What you can do to secure official and confidential data while using a remote access VPN

  Sometimes, just because you think you’re using a VPN, and that too an enterprise remote access VPN, doesn’t mean it’s always a 100% safe. No security software is completely safe and always comes with vulnerabilities. With that said, here are a few tips you can use to make things a little bit safer to protect your official and confidential data, while using a remote access VPN:

  • If you see any unusual connections made in the past or while you weren’t on the network, don’t just let it slide. It’s always safer to investigate.
  • Other than that, you need to make run occasional reviews of the VPN within the log file section to make sure that there are no compromised accounts in use.
  • Two-factor authentication is crucial for anything and every situation. This is regardless of whether you’re connected to a VPN or not. Enable it while using your VPN. It will ensure that you are notified if someone tries to hack into your account.
  • Just because it is a security software doesn’t mean your VPN doesn’t need fixing and updates. Scan for issues and vulnerabilities and make patches where you can to maintain the access.
  • Apart from patching up issues, run regular updates on the app whenever it requires you to. You should get notified for starters.
  • If you’re in charge or buying a VPN for a small start-up company, and don’t know much about it, then look up other reviews and end-user license agreements before settling for any.

To conclude

Just because you’re working remotely, doesn’t mean you need to take the easy road. Yes, your company might be responsible for managing most of the fixes of the remote access VPN, but that’s just about all they can do. Help yourself secure your remote workforce by following the short but effective tips provided above.

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