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SSL VPN Best Practices: A Powerful Tool for Tough Security Issues and Maintaining Compliance

Posted October 21, 2013

VPN is one of those acronyms that gets tossed around quite often, and increasingly so in the business world. Most users have a vague sense of VPNs, or Virtual Private Networks, but what most probably don’t realize, or haven’t stopped to consider, is just how powerful a tool VPNs are. The single most important function of VPNs is security. A VPN secures the users’ Internet connection by encrypting all data that is sent and received.

For professionals and businesses, Remote Access SSL VPN services enable employees to use almost any web browser to securely connect to a network from any location. In an increasingly mobile and connected world, this capability is swiftly becoming a business necessity. Namely in that VPN technology helps businesses to support their workforces remotely by providing employees with secure access to email, data and network resources, regardless of their location.

What is SSL VPN?

Remote Access SSL VPN services enable employees to use almost any Web browser to securely connect to a network from any location.

  • Helps businesses support a remote workforce by providing employees access to email, data, and network resources, regardless of an employee’s location
  • Incorporates enterprise authentication tools and integrates with corporate standards and infrastructure (leverages existing Active Directories, such as LDAP, Radius, etc.)
  • Works on any device (PC, Mac, Mobile)

Do you want a secure yet flexible network to access data?
You need a VPN.

Companies without a secure SSL based VPN face either limited accessibility, if they choose to have no option for employees to connect outside the office, or risk extreme breaches in security if employees are able to remotely access data and information via any non-secure means. Limited accessibility means potentially limited capabilities, while any potential security risk that becomes an actual security breach could be immeasurably detrimental—think hackers, malware, spyware, and stolen information, to name a few worst case scenarios.

However, those businesses who do have a secure VPN can remain operational even when unexpected problems arise and employees can’t be at the office – Mother Nature, flight cancellations, sickness, car problems, working after hours, etc. – and perhaps even more importantly, they can trust implicitly in the security of their data.

Established providers, such as MegaPath, can manage and maintain speedy, secure VPNs, thereby reducing cost and supporting businesses at every turn. The cost of Remote Access using SSL VPN is predictable, and based on users, not hardware. Businesses can start small (with as few as 10 users) or big, and always grow or reduce their VPN as needed.

Why Outsource Management Functions

Just as enterprise circumstances differ, so too are their reasons for outsourcing the management of critical functions with SSL VPN vendors. Nevertheless, we believe that for most enterprises the reasons to outsource are captured by one or more of the following:

  • A lack of expertise - The expertise may not exist within the enterprise or cannot be developed to perform the management functions at the level of proficiency required.
  • Time is in short supply - Business needs may dictate that specific management functions be performed faster than can be completed with internal staff. This need for speed pertains not only to the time consumed in initial deployment but also extends to the time required for routine and change management.
  • Resource Prioritization - Whether conscious or not, enterprises are defined by their prioritization decisions, that is, decisions on allocating scarce resources. In choosing to outsource, the enterprise has made a conscious decision that: (1) resources that would otherwise be available to conduct the management functions are better employed in other areas of the business, and (2) the managed service provider is better equipped to deliver the services needed.

Data Security for Any Size Network

No matter the size of the network, users can depend on real security for their data. SSL VPNs (secure sockets layer virtual private network) can be used on any standard web browser without the need for users to install specialized software, meaning security follows users to any device, running any browser, on any kind of network, with SSL-based data encryption. MegaPath handles initial setup for all customers with ongoing support, including 24/7/365 network monitoring, management and customer support.

An Invaluable Asset For Your Business

Having a truly mobile workforce is an asset. Having a truly mobile, secure workforce is an invaluable asset. Lifehacker.com says that everyone really should be using a VPN, going so far as to state that in the future users may consider VPNs “as important as” an internet connection. Implementing a VPN means accessibility for employees everywhere, security across the board, and flexibility even in the worst of conditions.

MegaPath’s Remote Access SSL VPN services work in conjunction with your MegaPath MPLS network, and can be fully integrated into your network environment in significantly less time than it would take to build an infrastructure solution. Because all traffic over the MPLS VPN is encrypted using SSL, it is protected from unauthorized users. And, the solution includes complete monitoring and detailed reporting to help with regulatory compliance.

SSL VPN Benefits

  • Supports a Mobile Workforce
  • Reduces Total Cost of Ownership
  • Scalable: Add Users to Support Growth
  • Predictable User-based Cost Model
  • Secure SSL-based Encryption
  • 24/7/365 Network Monitoring, Management, and Support
  • SSL VPN Remote Access

A sample of business objectives for those choosing SSL VPN includes:

  • Serving More User Communities - Extending network access to a broader community of users (e.g., stationary and mobile remote workers, suppliers, business partners, consultants, and customers).
  • Supporting More Access Environments - Ensuring a dependable connection experience through a widening array of endpoint platforms and access environments.
  • Providing Access Without Application and Network Changes - Providing remote access to all networked resources without re-writing application code, reconfiguring the enterprise network, or causing end-user inconvenience.
  • Enforcing Compliance - Consistently meeting a mosaic of information use and protection compliance mandates.
  • Protecting the Network - Protecting the enterprise network from threats introduced through remote-connecting devices regardless of whether the devices are owned or not.
  • Quickly Modifying Access Policies - Efficiently and comprehensively responding to access policy changes and the dynamic composition of user communities.
  • Ensuring Business Continuity - Being prepared for rapid response scenarios when traditional in-office connections cannot be supported (e.g., debilitating storms, natural disasters, public health emergencies, and network or power failures).

How SSL VPN MSPs Lower Cost of Ownership

Effective and Efficient Operations
In comparison to an in-house management approach, a MSP supplies a level of expertise to SSL VPNs that, in our view, few enterprises can duplicate. A contributing source to the MSP’s differentiated expertise is its exclusive focus on SSL VPN management honed and broadened through experience in serving many enterprise customers, in diverse network and application scenarios, and over time. The MSP applies and demonstrates its expertise horizontally across all SSL VPN functions with a high degree of operational effectiveness (completing each task accurately and completely) and time efficiency (no wasted effort). The collective result is a material reduction in the use of human resources versus what would be required in an in-house approach. For example, the time to deploy an average SSL VPN implementation can be reduced from four months to less than thirty days when using an MSP.

Scalability Without Capital Investment
In a MSP engagement, the MSP owns the responsibility to seamlessly accommodate temporary and permanent increases in SSL VPN activity. As the owner of the SSL VPN appliances and software licenses, a proficient MSP will have sized the SSL VPN deployment appropriately for current usage levels and reasonable spikes in activity. The cost to the customer does not entail any capital investments but purely reflects the actually level of SSL VPN activity.

Shared Costs
For these common SSL VPN tasks, costs savings are realized when the task is learned by one and applied to many. In servicing multiple enterprise customers, the MSP is well positioned to identify and complete these common tasks and distribute the costs across all of its customers at a fraction of the cost an individual enterprise would incur. Examples of this include SSL VPN software upgrade, new feature, and application testing. It is also relevant to recognize that the MSP has the purchasing clout of its many customers and will receive higher discounts from the SSL VPN vendor than possible by an individual enterprise. These savings can be passed on to the enterprise by the MSP.

Remote Access VPN Consolidation
Consolidating all remote access VPN functionality into a single technology eliminates the redundant and excessive expense of maintaining multiple technologies. In addition, personnel previously devoted to service the old technology can be re-assigned. A MSP, through its SSL VPN expertise and multi-customer experience, will assist the enterprise in accelerating its transition to a SSL VPN for all of its remote access needs and, in the process, eliminate the additional operating expenses of maintaining dual remote access VPNs.

Complete Service Portfolio from MegaPath
We offer a full range of business voice, data, security and hosted IT services. We've been serving businesses with innovative communications services since 1996. With our SSL VPN best practices, we are able to reduce the time, cost and complexity of managing multiple providers and bills. Our knowledgeable technical experts respond quickly and efficiently 24/7/365. Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help your business communication needs.

 

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