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Remote access problems: BYOD muddies the water

BYOD enterprise policies are creating new remote access problems on the WAN. Find out how to get a better handle on iPads and smartphones invading your VPN.

In a world where everyone is a teleworker from time to time, remote access problems can cripple worker productivity and threaten network security. With enterprises adopting bring your own device (BYOD) policies, supporting remote access is only getting more challenging.

Remote access problems: Starting at the source

When troubleshooting remote access problems, an engineer needs to start at the source, according to Michael Vassallo, senior network administrator at Dancker, Sellew & Douglas, a building interiors firm that specializes in designing corporate offices and other workplaces. He said, engineers have to ask what system remote workers are using to connect to the VPN, and what kind of network are they using.

The system question used to be easy: Desktop or laptop? That’s no longer the case, said Vassallo. “Now, employees have other ways [of connecting] -- their iPhones, iPads, Androids and even Chromebooks are starting to wedge their way in,” he said.

These BYOD devices are presenting network administrators with all kinds of remote access problems, in terms of getting the right VPN clients to the right devices.

User needs are changing, and because employees are relying more on smartphones and iPads than laptops, network administrators need to come up with better management tools for these devices, Vassallo said.

“It’s important that [network administrators] are able to provide employees with back-end services, in order to provide them with what they would have in the office while on the road on these devices,” he said.

With BYOD comes more worker mobility. Since there are many different types of remote access environments, enterprises must research how client devices and the VPN will react to network changes and roaming situations, said Rainer Enders, CTO of NCP Engineering, Inc., a remote access client software vendor.

Choosing a broadly diversified technology vendor can ease connectivity problems for remote access issues, as long as the vendor can offer equal client and eligibility support for those remote access devices from centralized locations, Enders noted.

With BYOD, remote access problems raise security questions

BYOD presents a greater risk for the security of companies, said Vassallo. “It’s all about minimizing data exposure,” he said, noting that employees are no longer carrying around phones, but small computers in which corporate information is often downloaded and stored.

With the notion of data exposure in mind, enterprises should start out with a tightly controlled environment of allowed devices and platforms, said Enders. “The VPN is already complex, so the [variation] of the device adds an additional degree of complexity in terms of client connectivity as well as security,” he said.

Very clear and restrictive access from the start, with the ability to widen out as the business grows will help an enterprise handle remote devices and connectivity in a responsible manner, Enders said.

“A remote access environment is attractive to an employer from a cost perspective, but also provides benefits to the employee in the form of work flexibility,” he said. “With those benefits comes responsibility.” 

Taking a strong approach in terms of security architecture, policies and training, as well as choosing premium technology, will be crucial in making remote access environments not only work, but work securely, Enders said.

Network managers should do their homework and set policies for the types of user devices that are allowable for remote access from the executive level down, said Vassallo. “From there, [network managers] can evaluate and determine the best management tools and functionality that is going to be pushed out to those devices.” 

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Gina Narcisi, News Writer

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