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May 19, 2020 | Written by: Maura McGowan

VPN & the Importance of MFA

A lot of things are different right now – particularly your work life. If you are finding yourself working from home currently, you are not alone in adjusting to a new work schedule. However, working from home can put you at risk of cyber-attacks you may not even be aware of. Most of us are used to the organization-wide protection that comes with working in an office, but once you start working remotely, there are critical security factors that need to be taken into consideration, specifically the use of a VPN and multi-factor authentication (MFA).

What Exactly is a VPN?

By now, if you are working remotely, you are more than likely aware of your organization’s VPN, or the virtual private network. VPNs were originally created for remote workers and branch offices to securely access corporate applications and resources. A VPN extends the private network of the office across the public network of your home. It enables users to securely share corporate-related files across shared or public networks as if they were directly connected to the organization’s network. Therefore, the devices connected to the VPN reap the security and functionality benefits of the private network.

Why is a VPN Necessary?

Browsing web, online shopping, emailing, and all the other activities you do daily on your devices could be exposed to hackers if you are conducting these on an unsecure Wi-Fi network. Now, think of your work-related activities and the sensitive information, passwords, credentials, and emails that are exchanged all day, every day. Without a secure network, that information is vulnerable to malicious attacks. For this reason, it is imperative organizations and their employees utilize a VPN while working from home and more importantly, while exchanging sensitive information.

How Does it Work?

There are a lot of factors that go into a VPN. Essentially, it creates a private tunnel from a device to the Internet and hides your virtual data through encryption. Encryption makes this data unreadable, therefore protecting the information being transmitted from hackers on the network trying to eavesdrop on your activity. How? By routing your device’s internet connection through the VPN’s private server rather than your internet service provider (ISP). Then, when your data is transmitted to the internet, it comes from the VPN rather than your computer.

Enforcing the use of a VPN is more important than ever right now. As workforces are continuing to work remotely and operating on public or shared networks, the utilization of VPNs will protect organizations from malicious attacks, especially as hackers are aware of these vulnerabilities. To add another layer of protection to your corporate network, resources, and applications, enforcing multi-factor authentication, or MFA, will do just that.

What’s MFA?

Muti-factor authentication (MFA), or two-factor authentication (2FA) is an enhanced security measure that requires two or more pieces of information to gain access to an account. It is more than likely you have already used MFA – when you log into a website or bank account, which then sends a numeric code to your phone, in which you have to enter to log-in. Sound familiar? It should. This added layer of security makes it that much harder for hackers to gain access to your accounts. Instead of just stealing your password, they now must steal you cell phone as well.

MFA should be used whenever possible – for bank accounts, email accounts, health records, and especially corporate-related applications and accounts.

The Importance of MFA

The added layer of security that MFA offers provides the necessary protection organizations need for their private information. Enforcing MFA for all corporate applications including email, remote desktop and VPN connections will protect the corporate network from malicious attacks and cyber-criminals trying to steal and sell credentials on the dark web.

As we mentioned above, your organization’s VPN keeps your corporate network secure, so enforcing MFA for the VPN connection adds another extra layer of security to the entire corporate infrastructure.

If your workforce has gone remote and you fear you might be lacking these extra layers of security, contact the security experts at Business Information Group today. We are here to protect your organization’s network from malicious attacks and help educate employees on the importance of MFA to ensure working from home is not a cyber-risk.