In the earlier days of business computing, brands lived in fear of the ubiquitous and ever-present computer virus. The image of the computer virus has always been easy to understand. A virus causes sickness, after all, and there’s just no working with a sick computer. However, as businesses move further into the digital age of advanced networking and file sharing, the question of computer and network health has come to mean much more than simply protecting against a virus.

Today’s businesses need to protect their data from prying eyes while still being able to share information and communicate with employees and clients. For them, a healthy network is a secure one. One increasingly popular option for keeping business communications running smoothly and securely is the virtual private network (VPN). But what do VPNs do, and are they really good for your computer’s health?

Private networks in the workplace

In order to keep data, financial records, and other proprietary information secure, businesses have traditionally relied on internal private networks. However, these networks are bound by their physical location—chiefly, the office. So although data is secure, employee access is limited; they can only join the network on-site.

In an era where remote employees are becoming increasingly common and offices are spread out across continents and over oceans, businesses still utilizing a simple private network risk diminished productivity. The alternative, a wide area network (WAN), is another potential option, but until the arrival of VPNs, WAN networks have been limited in their functionality.

Ensuring security across channels

Employees on the go need access to their workplace without having to sacrifice functionality. The VPN solves this problem, keeping data within a closed, secure network even while the information is traveling from site to site over a public web portal. This means that employees either traveling or telecommuting have the same access to data and a uniform user interface, regardless of their access point.

Since their introduction a little over a decade ago, VPNs have been very successful in protecting data. The reason VPNs have proven so successful is that they use multiple security protocols, such as data encryption, sender authentication, and message integrity. Because of this, even if an unauthorized third party does manage to access data as it’s transmitted from site to site, all they would see is a bunch of garbled-looking encrypted data.

VPNs can help your business

An AT&T-powered VPN can eliminate any geographical limitations of doing business and keep workers all on the same page no matter where they choose to work. Benefits include:

 

Scalability-  Regardless of a business’s size, VPNs can be easily tailored to meet that company’s internal needs, and they are easily modified if those needs change.

Encrypted voice over internet protocol (VOIP)- Employees can utilize web-based phone and conferencing platforms without fear of unwanted eavesdroppers.

Uniform interface across platforms- While traditional wide area networks (WAN) have allowed users to access data remotely and securely, the user-end interface was limited in its capabilities. VPNs allow users to access and utilize data through a uniform platform, regardless of their location.

Mobile access- Users connecting through a mobile broadband network can rest assured that their data is secure through sophisticated encryption and verification processes.

Simplified infrastructure- With a VPN, managing IT needs can be dramatically simplified, as all data channels are available in one, universally accessible network.

 

Share with us how a VPN has helped the health of your business.  What benefits do you feel are most important — either as a user or from a business perspective.

 

Cheryl Burgess is Co-Author of the book, The Social Employee . She is also managing partner of Blue Focus Marketing. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.