VPN functionalities for remote access technology: Fact or Fiction?

Posted by Stefanie Kober Thu, 14 Aug 2014 09:33:00 GMT



In the mid-1990s, virtual private network (VPN) technology was introduced by Microsoft, such that a secure connection could be created between a computer and a remote server. Since then, remote access technology has evolved to meet modern-day demands and overcome the shortcomings of the early versions of VPNs.
Remote access technology securely connects employees, customers and even partners with the company’s sever using the internet and/or intranets, including local area networks (LANs), as well as wide area networks (WANs).
Although VPN technology is essential in providing comprehensive security, safety and flexibility to businesses, in particular those which opt for the management practice of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and/or work from home, some individuals and companies remain skeptical of this technology. 
This article separates fact from fiction.

Fact or Fiction?

1.) VPNs do not affect the performance of the device
Fact.

Modern remote access solutions do not require any software to be downloaded onto the device, thus it cannot affect the device’s performance. Essentially, the device does not need to be “known” on the company network, as the VPN parameters used to log in these devices are configurable by the IT team.

2.) SSL VPNs support web and browser applications only
Fiction.

Early SSL VPNs began as HTTP proxies, enabling user access to web applications through a VPN gateway using an ordinary browser. Today, VPNs offer a variety of access methods, ranging from thin-client SSL tunneling to clientless browser interfaces. Today’s high-quality VPNs also offer browser-launched thin clients which can support virtually any application by tunneling non-web protocols over SSL. Moreover, VPNs also enable users to access Windows Terminal Servers and applications residing there, and further resources, such as file servers, desktop PCs or the company’s intranet.  

3.) VPNs only allow access to the organization’s data

Fiction.

Advanced VPN technology provides various services which help users maintain access to critical information. For instance, modern VPN technology includes remote VoIP capabilities, enabling employees to use the same work telephone number outside of the office.

4.) VPNs are different from other portals
Fact.

VPNs can supply highly-personalized portal views that are a function of each user’s individual access rights. Today’s VPNs provide dynamic access portals, whereby network managers can define server access with application publishing in such a way that the user only sees his or her personal, customized portal.

Summary
Remote access technology has come a long way. In an era where businesses are concerned with security breaches and unauthorized data access, VPNs continue to offer a highly reliable, fast and consistent approach to securely access data and applications stored in the company’s network, anytime and anywhere.

Readers, what are your thoughts on remote access technology? Please share in the comments below.

If you would like to explore more benefits of remote access technologies and learn useful tips for VPN solutions, download our free e-book: Debunking Myths about Remote Access Technology

Author: Hazel Farrugia

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8 Things to Learn from a Data Breach Study (Part 2)

Posted by Stefanie Kober Tue, 12 Aug 2014 12:42:00 GMT



In our previous post on IT security, we discussed four key findings from a data breach study conducted by Ponemon Institute. In this article, we will further discuss these four key findings and outline preventative measures to avoid security breaches.

Key Findings (Continued)

5.    Cybercrime Costs Differ by Company Size, but Smaller Organizations Sustain a Significantly Higher Cost than Larger Organizations

While everyone is vulnerable to cyber-attacks, smaller organizations are more at risk. A common cyber-attack is the theft of sensitive data, and for a small organization, the loss of project files or customer databases can put them out of business.

Smaller companies (employees<20) should implement a VPN for secure connectivity anytime, anywhere. Due to their ease of use and versatility, SSL VPNs are well-suited for small companies allowing users to only access specific applications and services, and providing access to Web applications, Windows Terminal Servers and their applications or internal network connections.

6.    Information Theft, Followed by the Costs Associated with Business Disruption, Represent the Highest External Costs


Annually, information loss and business disruption (or lost productivity) account for 43% and 36% of external costs, respectively. (In the context of this study, an external cost is one that is created by external factors, including fines, marketability of stolen intellectual properties and litigation)

Setting up strong network security is therefore crucial. Increasingly, more organizations are adopting SSL VPNs, which ensure a secure network connection through the use of encryption, single-sign on options, and firewalls.

In order to minimize costs associated with business disruption, it is imperative that all organizations have a contingency plan in place that outlines how to contain and recover from a substantial security breach. The IT staff must quickly solve the issue, hopefully restoring data from backup files, and returning systems to service without any significant downtime. Nonetheless, any downtime can be disastrous in the case of mission critical systems. 

7.    Recovery and Detection are the Most Costly Internal Activities


Combined, recovery and detection account for 49% of the total internal activity cost per year; cash outlays and labor account for most of these costs. This highlights the importance of back-ups. A data-backup policy is especially important if the organization has several laptops or other mobile devices that can be lost or stolen. To avoid data theft from loss or stolen mobile devices, no data should be downloaded to the device, but rather all data is completely and securely located in the central corporate network.   

8.    A Strong Security Policy Minimizes the Cost of Cyber Attacks


As expected, businesses that invest in a strong security policy and system are better off than their counterparts. This stresses the importance of a strong security policy, which provides the plan for the overall security program adopted by the organization.

Conclusion

As cybercriminals have become more sophisticated in their tactics, fighting cybercrime has become increasingly challenging for organizations worldwide. Although sustaining an organization’s security posture or compliance with standards, policies and regulations also comes at a cost, the benefits of strong security measures outweigh the plausible costs incurred by cyber-attacks.

Author: Hazel Farrugia

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8 Things to Learn from a Data Breach Study (Part 1)

Posted by Stefanie Kober Thu, 07 Aug 2014 13:00:00 GMT



Recently, the sophistication of cyber-attacks has grown significantly. Cybercriminals are specializing and sharing intelligence so as to steal sensitive data and disrupt critical business functions. Consequently, the topic of cybercrime has been kept top of mind as the repercussions of a cyberattack are costly and potentially very damaging.   

Key Findings
The study, 2013 Cost of Cyber Crime Study: United States, was conducted by the Ponemon Institute and sponsored by HP Enterprise Security Products.

1.    Cybercrimes are Still Costly for Organizations

The average annual cost of cybercrime per organization was $11.6 million, an increase of 26% over the average cost reported in 2012. Considering this increase in cost, IT security should be a top priority for all organizations, as there is no single failsafe solution to protect against cybercrime.

2.    All Industries are Susceptible to Cybercrime

The average annual cost of cybercrime appears to differ according to industry segment; organizations in financial services, defense, and energy and utilities experience markedly higher crime costs than organizations in retail, hospitality and consumer products. The organizations facing higher security threats are not only at risk for financial loss due to cyber-attack, but are also more vulnerable to phishing attacks that could compromise sensitive customer data such as credit card, bank account and social security numbers.

3.    Denial of Service Attacks, Malicious Code and Web-based Attacks are the Most Costly Cybercrimes

These are responsible for more than 55% of all cybercrime costs to organizations. Denial of Service (DoS) is an attack which renders information or data unavailable to its intended recipients. Organizations using VPNs can mitigate such risks by configuring access control lists, a method of defining access rights according to user (such as a file directory or individual file).
Malicious code is a piece of executable code designed to harm a computer or its information, or prevent normal computer operations. Malicious code can come from various sources, such as the Internet, infected diskettes, files received via electronic mail, and worms that exploit several system vulnerabilities. It could also be introduced via a disgruntled insider, who has physical access to a computer or network.
A multilevel strategy is required to effectively defend against malicious code, including physical security, password management, product selection, configuration and maintenance, user awareness and education, up-to-date anti-virus software for servers, clients, and electronic mail and adequate system backups.       Web-based attacks focus on an application itself, as application vulnerabilities could provide the means for malicious end users to breach a system's protection mechanisms. Generally, such attacks take advantage or gain access to private information or system resources. To mitigate Web-based attacks, firewalls, reverse proxies, and intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDPS) should be used, which actively monitor for attacks and attempt to block or change the environment, thus preventing further attacks from reaching the protected application or system. 

4.    Cyber-attacks Can Be Costly if Not Resolved Rapidly 

The results show a direct and positive relationship between the time required to contain an attack and the organizational cost. The results also demonstrate that both the cost and the time taken to resolve an attack increased from the previous year. Failure to resolve the problem quickly leads to prolonged business disruption and gives competitors a distinct advantage.

Conclusion

The results of the study reveal that no one is immune cyber-attacks, which have the potential to inflict significant financial and reputational damage to the targeted organization. Stay tuned for Part 2 where we shall further discuss the findings of this data breach study and how organizations should protect themselves from becoming a victim of cyber-attacks.
  
Author: Hazel Farrugia

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3 Main Security Concerns as revealed by HOB Remote Access Study

Posted by Tobias Eichenseer Tue, 05 Aug 2014 13:56:00 GMT

Remote access solutions are gaining prevalence as organizations are adopting the mobile workforce strategy, benefitting from increased productivity and reduced expenses. When evaluating and planning a VPN solution, it is essential to understand the security risks that are associated with this technology.

Top 3 Remote Access Security Concerns  
In fall of 2013, HOB conducted a research survey on the state of remote access in the US. Over 200 CTOs and CIOs were polled, and findings revealed three main concerns regarding remote access security issues.

1.    Hackers gaining access to the Network during Employee Remote Access Solutions

Hackers have succeeded in breaking through two-factor authentication and identifying and exploiting vulnerability in a Web application to access an enterprise’s network. Therefore, it is not surprising that 66% of the polled respondents are concerned with hackers gaining access to the network during employee remote access sessions.
Organizations should implement safe and reliable VPNs which provide an adequate level of security, without compromising performance.

2.    Employees accessing the Network through their Personal Devices

Today, mobile devices such as smartphones, laptops and tablets have become an integral part of everyday life. As more organizations implement remote working policies, IT managers have less control over enterprise data from numerous devices. Furthermore, determining which devices are accessing which systems and data has become increasingly difficult.  
The repercussions of data breaches resulting from lost or stolen devices can be severe. In addition, IT managers generally lose data access visibility when multiple personal, unmanaged devices are connecting to the network simultaneously.
This highlights the importance of a comprehensive mobile workforce security policy, which should also include who is responsible for device maintenance and support, and which security measures should be implemented.

3.    Errors by the IT Team leaving the Network open to Intruders


Cyber-attacks are increasing in sophistication and frequency; the costs associated with cyber-attacks are not limited to monetary costs, but also encompass reputational loss and diminished competitive advantage. Security holes unintendedly created by the IT team may potentially lead to the exposure of sensitive enterprise data, financial fraud or even bankruptcy.
The results indicate that enterprises require new strategies in order to combat and prevent advanced cyber-attacks; IT teams should be wary of software and systems use and investigate any suspicious behaviors that are known to be associated with malicious activity.

Conclusion
As organizations make use of remote access to satisfy various business needs, securing the corporate network becomes priority. The findings of this study stress the importance of a robust mobile workforce strategy.

If you would like to learn about the state of remote access in the USA, please download our free eBook “The State of Remote Access in the US”.
 


Author: Hazel Farrugia

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How to Fight Cybercrime

Posted by Tobias Eichenseer Thu, 31 Jul 2014 11:52:00 GMT

Businesses and individuals are increasingly relying on computers and Internet-based networking. They experience several benefits, but also potential risks. When staff or business partners have constant access to internal networks from insecure locations, security is a major concern.

The Rise of Cybercrime
Cyberattacks generally refer to criminal activity involving the use of a computer network, normally conducted via the Internet. Internet users and organizations face increased risk of becoming targets of cyberattacks. An independent research report conducted by Ponemon Institute on organizations located in the United States in 2013 found that the U.S. experienced an increase of 18 percent in successful attacks from the previous year.
Today, criminals have more advanced technology and greater knowledge of cyber security. Attacks may include financial scams, computer hacking, virus attacks and distribution, denial-of-service, theft of an organization’s information assets, posting of sensitive business data on the Internet, and malware.

Risks of Cybercrime
For businesses and corporations, the cost associated with cyberattacks is large. Stolen or deleted corporate data can inflict financial damage on the victim, damage the company’s reputation, and negatively affect people’s livelihoods. The risks are even higher for small companies, since their businesses may rely solely on project files or customer data bases. The same Ponemon Institute study reported that in 2013, the average cost of cybercrime in the U.S. was $11.6 million annually - an increase in cost by 26 percent from the previous year.

Preventing Cyberattacks
Organizations should follow basic guidelines in order to reduce the security threat to their data and devices. To prevent cyberattacks, companies should:

1.    Use a Secure Connection to the Corporate Data
This generally involves implementing a Virtual Private Network (VPN). VPN technology provides protection for information that is being transmitted over the Internet by allowing users to form a virtual “tunnel” to securely enter an internal network to access resources, data and communications.

2.    Store Data Centrally
Centralized storage of data offers protection and increases speed, convenience and efficiency for accessing files. Sharing of files enables rapid and easy access to important data from virtually anywhere in the world. The relative mobility and control of data improves effectiveness of workflow. Another crucial advantage of centralized data is cost. Although it is possible to store and backup data on multiple machines, it is considerably more cost effective to use central storage. For instance, data can be stored on a server within the corporate LAN behind the firewall.

3.    Use Modern Authentication Methods
Authentication is the process by which the parties at either end of a network connection can verify the identity of the other party. Verification is typically based upon something you know (such as passwords), something you have (smart card or tokens), or something you are (biometric techniques, including fingerprint and eye scans). Deployment of modern authentication methods, such as Kerberos authentication protocol, ensures confidentiality through encryption that ensures no one can tamper with data in a Kerberos message. 

4.    Use Reliable, Strong Encryption Technology
Encryption is the process of changing information in a manner that cannot be deciphered by anyone except those holding special knowledge (generally referred to as a "key") that enables them to alter the information back to its original, readable form. A VPN turns the Internet (an unsecure environment) into a secure private network, by providing heavy encryption. In particular, an SSL VPN is best-suited for mobile apps. 
 
5.    Enforce Strong Passwords
Implementation of strong passwords is a basic security procedure, however it is often overlooked.  Complex, hard-to-crack passwords are a simple line of defense against a security breach. Password policies, which offer advice on proper password management, should be in place. Password best practices include:

•    Avoid using dictionary words or common sequences, such as numbers or letters in sequential order or repetitive numbers or letters.
•    Do not use personal information. 
•    Use special characters, such as * and #.  The majority of passwords are case sensitive, therefore, a mixture of both upper case and lower case letters, as well as numbers, should be used.
•    Choose a long password, as passwords become harder to crack with each added character.
•    Create different passwords for different accounts and applications. Therefore, if one password is breached, the security of other accounts is not at risk.
•    Never write down passwords and leave them unattended in a desk drawer or any other obvious place.
•    Never communicate a password by telephone, e-mail or instant messaging
•    Never disclose a password to others, including people who claim to be from customer service.
•    Change passwords whenever there is any doubt that a password may have been compromised.

Conclusion
The growing popularity and convenience of digital networks has led to an increase in cyberattacks; consequently, keeping up to date with the most recent and important concerns facing the organization is in itself a challenge. Organizations can protect their highly sensitive information by following a safety plan and adopting reasonable security practices.
 
If you would like to learn more about VPN technology, and review some tips on critical security aspects, download our free e-book: How Do I Find the Best VPN Solution for My Company?
 

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Why IT Controls are Vital for Your Business

Posted by Tobias Eichenseer Tue, 29 Jul 2014 12:32:00 GMT

Controls are a mode of living. Whether it’s the workplace that requires a key fob or an identification badge, a password to log into the company network, or an access permission to use a copier, there are numerous controls/safeguards that we encounter during the normal course of our everyday lives. 

Defining Control Activities
Control activities are actions taken to minimize risk. A risk is the probability of an event or action having adverse consequences on an organization, such as information assets that are not adequately safeguarded against loss.
Control activities occur throughout the organization and include diverse activities, including approvals, authorizations, verifications, reviews of operating performance, and security of assets.

Internal controls
Internal controls are a fundamental part of any organization’s financial and business policies and procedures. The advantages of internal controls are:

  • Prevention of errors and irregularities; if these do occur, the inaccuracies will be detected in a timely method
  • Protection of employees from being accused of misappropriations, errors or irregularities by clearly outlining responsibilities and tasks

IT Controls
IT controls are a subdivision of internal controls, and refer to policies, procedures and techniques on computer-based systems. IT controls are essential to protect assets, highly sensitive information and customers. IT controls support business management and governance; they also offer general and technical controls over IT infrastructures.

Subdivisions of IT Controls
Generally, IT controls are divided into two main categories:

1.    General Controls
These apply to all system components, processes and data for a specific organization. General control activities are conducted within the IT organization or the technology they support, which can be applied to each system that the organization depends upon. These controls facilitate confidentiality, integrity and availability, contribute to the safeguarding of data, and promote regulatory compliance. General controls make safe reliance on IT systems possible. Examples of such controls include access controls (physical security and logical access) and business continuity controls (disaster recovery and back-up).

2.    Application Controls
These controls are business process controls, and contribute to the efficiency of individual business processes or application systems. Examples of application controls include access authorization, which is essential for security of the corporate network. This prevents users from downloading illegal material or viruses, and may also block unproductive or inappropriate applications. Other examples of application controls include segregation of duties and concurrent update control.

Modern IT Solutions
Virtual private network (VPN) technology enables a secure connection to the organization’s data to be made over insecure connections, such as the Internet, and is essential to providing comprehensive security, safety and flexibility to businesses. Furthermore, advanced VPN technology offers several services which help users maintain access to critical information. VPNs facilitate the implementation of IT controls. For instance, VPNs provide dynamic access portals, whereby network managers can define server access with application publishing in such a way that the user only sees his or her personal, customized portal.

Conclusion

Control activities occur throughout the organization, and IT controls are fundamental to protect information assets and mitigate business risks. Deployment of a modern virtual private network (VPN) technology facilitates the implementation and management of IT controls.

If you would like to learn more about VPN technology, and review some helpful tips on critical security aspects, download our free e-book: How Do I Find the Best VPN Solution for My Company?

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5 Threats of Security Breaches to Businesses

Posted by Stefanie Kober Tue, 15 Jul 2014 12:41:00 GMT



The year 2013 is synonymous with cyber attacks and numerous data breaches. Individuals and organizations worldwide are now more aware of widespread surveillance and cyber threats. But what are the costs associated with business security breaches?

1.    Direct Financial Loss
Attackers may specifically target customers’ credit card numbers, employees’ checking account numbers, and the company’s merchant account passwords. Especially in the financial services industry, indirect legal fees or fines resulting from the security incident can significantly increase the costs, independent of whether the criminal is brought to justice.

2.    Violation of Privacy
Employees are trusted to keep personal information private. Likewise, customers trust the organization to keep their credit card numbers and credit histories confidential. If this privacy is violated, legal consequences arise. 

3.    Lower Competitive Advantage and Lost Sales
Theft, modification, destruction of propriety sales proposals, business plans, product designs or other highly sensitive information can significantly give competitors a marked advantage. Sales are also lost as a consequence of the cyber attack, and the repercussions ensue long after the incident takes place.

4.    Damage of Corporate Reputation and Brand

Building and maintaining a corporate image and establishing trusted relationships with customers and business partners is critical to an organization. However, the corporate credibility and business relationships can be considerably damaged if proprietary or private information is compromised. 

5.    Loss of Business Continuity
In the case of a service disruption caused by a data breach, the IT team must quickly address the problem, so as to minimize downtime of the system, and restore data from backup files. Nonetheless, when mission-critical systems are involved, any downtime can have catastrophic consequences. In other cases, when lost data may have to be meticulously reconstructed manually, this decreases the amount of time that systems are functioning to below acceptable levels.

Business Network Protection
As discussed above, the consequences associated with security breaches are vast and long-lasting. Several organizations now use remote access solutions to maintain a high level of security for sensitive corporate information. In particular, many companies opt for SSL VPNs due to their flexibility – SSL VPNs are not restricted to employee remote access, but incorporate partners, contractors, and possibly also customers. The increasing amount of hacking attacks and sophistication of security threats demand the use of advanced network security via a high-quality VPN as a component of a comprehensive business security policy.

If you are interested in how to secure your network from cyber attacks, we invite you to visit our website www.hobsoft.com. On our website you will be able to find data sheets of our VPN solutions as well as interesting e-books and whitepapers.

Author: Hazel Farrugia

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5 Best Practices to Boost Remote Worker Productivity

Posted by Stefanie Kober Thu, 10 Jul 2014 10:44:00 GMT



Introduction:
Today, mobile workforces stay connected in and out of the office and use their devices for work and personal purposes. The ultimate goal of a remote working strategy is to increase productivity and reduce costs; indeed, studies by Best Buy, Dow Chemical and many others have proven that teleworkers are 35-40% more productive than their in-office counterparts.

The drafting and implementation of an organization-wide workplace strategy will ensure that end users at all levels of the organization will enjoy a positive experience. The following are five best practices that effectively boost remote workers’ productivity:

1. Maximize Employee Participation
Maximizing employee participation is the first step to maximizing employee productivity. Not all employees benefit equally from remote working; however, without a critical mass of users, the benefits will be limited. IT teams should not restrict solutions, such as mobile workplaces, to only those who “seem” to need it. Remote working allows employees to respond to colleagues and customers faster, therefore IT teams and managers should not deter employees from working anywhere and anytime.

2. Ensure Employees Have the Productivity Tools they Require

Employees should be encouraged to use a wide range of productivity tools which do not pose network security risks. However, if IT teams are uncertain how to handle such employee requests, they generally allow employees to use these tools without providing adequate security, or block the use of the tools entirely. Regardless of the circumstances, IT teams should circumvented security risks by deploying security solutions that allow employees to utilize tools without compromising the network security.

3. Free Use of Personal Apps and Services
Whether the device is personally owned or provided by the company, employees should be able to use their personal apps and services. Blocking an employee from storing their personal information with a cloud service provider is significantly different from ensuring corporate data does not end up in the public cloud. IT teams should focus on controlling data rather than controlling devices.

4. Offer Self-Service Support for Everyday Activities
There is a common notion that mobile devices will result in an increase in support costs – however this is a misconception. Conversely, if the IT teams provide a self-service capability, particularly for routine activities, it usually results in decreased in support costs. IT teams should stop short of supporting personal apps and services, but should invariably offer to assist with supporting business apps.

5. Support Wide Range of Devices
For the mobile workplace program to be widely adopted, the program should support a wide range of devices. Though challenges may arise, such as Android’s variability regarding support for on-device encryption and other enterprise-level security and management controls, the overall benefit is net positive.

The Future of Remote Working
The current trend towards remote working is expected to become even more prevalent in the future. With the right practices and controls in place, employee productivity can be maximized, without putting the security of the network at risk.

If you would like to learn about the advantages and limitations of mobile workplaces, and find out how to develop a strategy for mobile workplaces with the help of VPNs, please download our free eBook “Home Offices Made Easy”.

Author: Hazel Farrugia

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6 Reasons Educational Institutions Should Use Remote Access Technology

Posted by Stefanie Kober Thu, 26 Jun 2014 09:49:00 GMT



The Background

Remote access via virtual private networks (VPNs) is a major technological advancement reshaping organizations worldwide, including educational institutions. The IT solutions of all educational institutions, ranging from primary schools to universities, face unique challenges in order to provide a more advanced learning and working environment, while also maintaining security requirements and optimal IT efficiency.

Common Applications in an Educational Institution:


Educational institutions require numerous IT applications, which are managed by the network support teams. These include: 
 

  • email accounts for students and faculty
  • secure email access
  • intranet set up and functionality
  • web and mail services
  • storage and management of sensitive data
  • online examination management and results posting
  • secure intra-departmental data transfer
  • secure remote access to server rooms and on-site data centers; and
  • maximum security levels preventing hacker attacks, and enabling secure login and sensitive information transfer


In addition to providing a secure mechanism to access the above list of necessary applications, IT administrators are also responsible for minimizing network downtime, monitoring uptime, and keeping service costs under control. In order to provide this, remote access technology is the optimal solution.

Reasons for Using Remote Access:
    
1.    24/7 Accessibility
Remote access through VPNs provides cost-effective 24/7 data access to students and staff from anywhere.

2.    Reduced Security Concerns 

VPN technology allows secure remote access to educational resources and individual desktops for faculty and staff members through encrypted connections, via Web Secure Proxy and secured authentication methods.
Innovative remote access solutions implement a security strategy that also includes firewalls, anti-virus software and intrusion prevention services to protect vital and sensitive information within the network.

3.    Reduced Investment in Technology Infrastructure
Due to the potential for mechanical failure, hardware solutions are prone to break downs. Initial costs and costs to repair cause hardware solutions to be significantly less viable than pure software solutions. Additionally, software solutions enable IT administrators to resolve several problems remotely, thereby further reducing costs and resource use. The implementation of a software based solution has the additional benefit of optimizing existing server resources, which reduces total cost of ownership.

4.    High Availability
Access from the client requires a Web browser only. This allows for specialty software applications to be made more readily and widely available to the students, staff and faculty. This high application availability allows for e-learning programs and superior online delivery methods after school hours.
The total enrollment in public and private postsecondary institutions increased 47% between 1995 and 2010, and a further increase of 15% is expected between fall 2010 and fall 2020. The growth in the number of students attending educational institutions puts network administrators under pressure to increase the amount of PCs and network facilities in order to accommodate their staff and students. An increase in terminals necessitates an increase in the number of servers; since these servers are the pillar of the institution’s Network, it is important that they be consistently reliable, as network downtime implies an interruption of essential services.
High-quality VPNs allow for workload balancing of cluster servers, meaning the division of a computer/network’s workload between two or more computers/servers. This process facilitates the system’s optimum performance, which results in faster data access. Load balancing also prevents failover, which occurs when a user cannot access a database in a cluster - either because they cannot access the database itself or they cannot access the database server.

5.   
Scalability
A VPN is highly scalable and supports many different platforms. VPN technology provides remote access via any device, such as desktop computers, notebooks and tablets, and all operating systems are supported, including Microsoft Windows, Apple MAC OS X, and Linux. In addition, this technology allows educational institutions to purchase resources as needed. If the institution experiences significant growth, it can easily increase the capacity of their remote access solutions. Conversely, if their needs decrease, they can scale down.

6.    Single Sign-On
Single sign-on is a capability that enables secure authentication across many services with only one password.  It allows users to be logged into multiple services once the user has signed in to one. Single sign-on streamlines the authentication process for the user, while simultaneously protecting the institution’s resources.

Conclusion:
Remote access technology has proven beneficial to several organizations as it optimizes resources, decreases administrative costs, increases productivity and enhances the learning process. Today, remote access technology for educational institutions is considered an essential part of a comprehensive IT security infrastructure.

Author: Hazel Farrugia

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Data Breaches Cost Serious Money

Posted by Tobias Eichenseer Tue, 13 May 2014 10:09:00 GMT

Data breaches are unfortunately becoming an inevitable part of life. In addition to the IT headaches, reputational risk and customer churn associated with a breach, the monetary costs are also a huge concern. 

A data breach typically leads to fraud, which in turn can result in monetary losses from the victim. Furthermore, the FTC can fine a business up to $3,500 per data breach violation and the state may fine the business around $1,100 per record stolen. This means that if 10,000 customer records are stolen from a business, it will cost the most than $11 million. 

Most organizations are willing to help compensate victims and help prevent further fraud with free credit monitoring. However, the obligation to compensate victims can severely dent a business’ budget and may result in closure. 

It’s devastating to be notified that your information has been exposed at the fault of a university, health center or business. What is even more alarming is that there is not much you can do to prevent it as it is up to the organization to protect their data. 

Have you had information stolen as a result of a breach? What were the costs to you or your business? What additional preventative measures should companies take to reduce the risk of breaches and the resulting cost? We are looking forward to your comments!

 

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