How to protect private mobile networks with integrated VPNs

By Jonathan Crowl

| Banking

There are numerous benefits of having a strong mobile enterprise network, such as improved employee morale and productivity, easier collaboration and accelerated project timelines, to name a few. However, these perks only go as far as the risk management practices companies employ to thwart potential threats. Enterprise technology is a popular target of malware, hacking and other unsavory cyberattacks, and mobile solutions are particularly prone to attack because there are so many access points.

As such, private mobile networks need a variety of security measures to mitigate these risks and ensure company assets are protected. Virtual private networks (VPNs) have become a popular layer of security for enterprises, and companies have taken several approaches to integrating this privacy solution into existing security fronts.

VPNs as an enterprise security solution

VPNs have been used to provide mobile security all the way back to early iterations of Apple’s iOS software. However, as the technology has evolved, so have these VPN security strategies.

Early on, a VPN was typically used to secure a mobile device when it was accessing company-owned assets, which were often cloud-based. Today’s VPNs are asked to do much more: Asset and information protection is still paramount, but the mobile ecosystem is now much more complicated, involving hundreds or thousands of devices with differing levels of access, different hardware and software considerations and different levels of required security protection. For example, banks and health care companies will always require more robust mobile security fronts than what a department store retailer needs.

Assessing virtual private network needs

Overall, there are four types of VPN security measures that could be used in an enterprise environment. Standard VPNs are turned on and off by the mobile device user, and this is the most common method of setting up a secure channel, according to Network World.

On-demand is a little different. Instead of having employees turn on a VPN, the network chooses when to activate a secure private channel based on the apps or content a user is accessing. These VPN-required assets are designated by IT staff to make sure the right assets are protected.

Per-app VPNs are similar to on-demand solutions, except they activate whenever company-owned apps access the internet. Per-app solutions are common for enterprises with bring-your-own-device systems, as they make it easy to manage business apps separately from personal apps.

Lastly, there’s the “always VPN” strategy, which requires mobile devices to use a VPN whenever they’re on the internet. This provides a high level of security and restricts what device owners can do on their mobile devices. This method is most commonly used for COPE networks or to manage company-owned devices, since they shouldn’t be used for personal actions anyway.

Integration, not replacement

Nearly every enterprise can benefit from a VPN layer of security for their private mobile networks, but these VPNs aren’t a stand-alone solution. VPNs can be compromised, and oversights in security management could create backdoors for malware and cybercriminals.

A range of enterprise security tools, including user authentication and anti-malware software, is needed to provide your company with the greatest degree of protection. When working in collaboration with these other methods, a VPN can be a powerful way to regulate employee activity and keep unwanted parties on the outside.

Written By

Jonathan Crowl

Reporter

Jonathan Crowl has served as a tech writer and reporter for a number of tech publications and corporations. Specializing in mobile technology and digital startups, he is based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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