Virtual Private Networks Can Put Your Company At Risk

Written by Chad Gniffke

June 10, 2019

Small Business | Tech Tips

Virtual Private Networks or VPNs are gaining popularity, but should you allow your employees to install one?

Virtual Private Networks are gaining significant popularity as people continue to become more and more concerned with privacy. What many people, especially business owners, don’t understand is that there are 2 different kinds of VPN’s. One type of VPN can be necessary to help an employee work remotely. The other kind of VPN can be extremely dangerous to your company’s network

Originally VPN technology was created to help people work remotely. It allows a computer to act like it is connected on a network that it is not physically connected to. For example, when you work at your computer inside the office, you have access to programs and files that reside on a local server. When you work remotely, you are unable to access items from that server because you are no longer connected to the same network as the server. When you connect to a VPN, the connection essentially brings your computer to the office virtually.

Most businesses have better ways of accomplishing this task through remote desktop connections or cloud-based programs and desktops. VPN connections in this instance are becoming outdated technology as they can be extremely slow.

Now people are using VPN programs on their phones and other devices as a way to keep their browsing and internet history private. Targeted ads can give users the feeling that nothing they do online is private, which for the most part it isn’t anyway.

There can be a big problem for business owners when employees start to use VPNs on company-issued devices. Programs like OpenDNS that filter content to business networks and devices rely on systems using the local network to function. When an employee utilizes a VPN they are able to bypass all of the safety protocols business owners and IT departments have put into place to keep the network safe and secured.

While the device is removed from the business network while it is connected to the VPN, as soon as they disconnect from the VPN, any viruses or malware the device picked up while not protected by the company network can be deployed to the business network much more easily.

VPNs also pose a problem for productivity. Without the safeguards in place inside the company network, employees may feel empowered to browse social media sites or inappropriate content. Anything they browse or do while on a company-issued device can be the responsibility of the company. Illegal activity that is done through the device can instigate legal action against the company.

Finally VPNs can also be dangerous for businesses as employees can use it as a means to steal company data or disclose company secrets. When disconnected from the network, the activity done through the device, again, is not monitored through the company, and can be an easy way to transfer sensitive data.

Making sure that employees are not using a VPN can be a fairly involved process. If you use an IT Support Provider like briteCITY, they can run a report on the devices that are managed to let you know if there is a VPN program installed on any of them.

You may also want to put a policy in place that VPN programs that are not used to connect to the corporate network are not allowed. Keep your company’s network safe by making sure all of the devices are following the same rules and using the same safeguards.