From personal entertainment to the transmission of sensitive corporate information, VPNs offer the necessary protection to keep data safe. Particularly when it comes to using a VPN for business purposes, it can greatly enhance an organization’s cybersecurity posture by disguising online data traffic to prevent external access to communications sent or received from devices. Here are some preliminary ways se can implement a VPN to keep data out of the hands of cybercriminals.
Work-from-home ‘safe mode’
What makes businesses especially vulnerable to cyberattacks is the fact that more employees are switching to the hybrid workplace or “working-from-home” mode. Once outside the secure office infrastructure of the workplace, employees’ devices are exposed to threats that may be encountered when using unprotected public or private Wi-Fi networks.
When using an unprotected Wi-Fi, security leaders may be unknowingly sharing information with a hacker. Cybercriminals can set up a network to position themselves between users and the connection point. These types of attacks are usually referred to as “man-in-the-middle.” Instead of talking directly with the access point, information is sent to the attacker, who then passes it on.
This way, the hacker gets access to every piece of information a person sends out over the Internet: important emails, credit card information and even security credentials for a business network. Once cybercriminals get that information, they can use it to access an employee’s systems and pretend to be a part of a company. Further, they can steal the data, use financial credentials or spy on the company’s business operations.
The increase in remote and hybrid work also leads to users more frequently connecting to free and public Wi-Fi. These free access points are available at restaurants, hotels, airports, bookstores, etc. But this freedom comes at a price, and few truly understand the risks associated with public Wi-Fi connections.
Moreover, hackers can create their own Wi-Fi networks that masquerade as a legitimate network. Employees could join the hacker’s network instead of the one from the coffee shop, shopping mall, etc. that they intended to join.
Cybercriminals can also use an unsecured Wi-Fi connection to distribute malware. Once file-sharing across such a network is allowed, they can easily plant infected software on a computer. Some hackers have even managed to hack the connection point itself, causing a pop-up window to appear during the connection process offering an upgrade to a piece of popular software. Clicking the window installs the malware that is masquerading as an update to a legitimate product. And in these cases, simply using a trustworthy VPN might be not enough, be sure that there’s a cybersecurity solution available that corresponds with business objectives. It will help to combat employee negligence as well, since many of them use their computer both for work and leisure activities.
Keeping work and entertainment separate
Post pandemic, small and medium businesses are twice as likely to offer remote working to their employees. Not only does this complicate data protection for small organizations that may not have a dedicated IT person, but it also increases the risk of becoming a target to cybercriminals. As for 2022, the losses from hacking incidents for SMB sector were up 64% year-over-year. Especially for those employees who tend to use their working stations for leisure and entertainment purposes.
Corporate computers used for entertainment purposes remain one of the most significant ways to get initial access to a company’s network. Looking for alternative ways to download an episode of a show or a newly released film, users encounter various types of malware, including Trojans, spyware and backdoors, as well as adware. A recent survey has found 35 percent of users who faced threats under the guise of streaming platforms were affected by a Trojan. If such malware ends up on a corporate computer, attackers could penetrate the corporate network, search for and steal sensitive information, including both business development secrets and employees’ personal data. A VPN can secure the connection, but if the site visited contains malware, the VPN can’t protect anymore, so a VPN is needed to secure connections and a security product is needed to block malware.