Once you know what applications workers need to do their job, they need access to data. Getting access to data might be easy if they’re working in the cloud – not as easy if the files are stored somewhere else. It’s very likely that you have a hybrid situation set up where part of your data is in one or more cloud locations, and the rest is on servers at your business location.
File sharing applications like Dropbox and Box have some pretty robust collaboration and synchronization capabilities. Make sure that any file sharing app your people use is the Pro/Business version and not the consumer version.
Now that you know what devices your people are going to use, the applications they need, and where the data that they need is located, it’s time to put it all together with a remote desktop and VPN.
Accessing your office computer or other devices from any location using Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) is just like using a remote control from another computer.
Remote desktop allows your employees to log into the computer that is physically sitting at their desk or a terminal server that you may have set up for them to log into, remotely.
Some great benefits of using a remote desktop are:
- Works with a Mac or PC.
- No need to install software on the device they’re using.
- Nothing is pulled over from your server.
The great thing about remote desktop technology is that employees can work exactly the same as they do in the office because, depending on how it's set up, it IS the same as if they were sitting in their office. It’s also really easy to set up if you're already using remote desktop for some employees. In a lot of cases, it can be easily expanded to include more people.
There are some secure ways to use Remote Desktop and there are some not-so-secure ways. It all depends on the setup, so make sure that your IT team isn't just opening up firewall ports to create the access needed for Remote desktops. Doing so creates a pretty serious security vulnerability that will increase your risk of a cyber attack.
Virtual Private Network (VPN)
The way to use remote desktop securely is through virtual private network (VPN). This is a technology that creates a secure tunnel between the computers that are talking to each other – that is, the computer in the remote location and your server. It encrypts the data that's moving back and forth, making it impossible for someone to “eavesdrop” on your communications or to intercept your internet traffic.
It will have to be configured, and it’s important to note that using a VPN still requires other security layers, such as single sign-on, firewalls, antivirus, and anti-malware. VPN isn’t a replacement for any layer of technical security – it’s an additional recommended layer.
Internet bandwidth also needs to be considered since VPNs use the bandwidth at your office. Do you have enough bandwidth to handle the additional traffic?
Think of it this way: Previously, you had people accessing apps and data physically at your office through your internal network. Now, they’re using the internet to get to those same resources.
It will take some planning to know if you have the appropriate bandwidth to support the increased internet traffic, and to figure out how you can segment the traffic for optimal performance.