What is a Virtual Private Network?

Ten years ago you wouldn’t have predicted the power that the internet has now and its ability to connect people anywhere in the world. People can now work from their homes and employees can now close deals with one click from their mobile devices. The possibilities are endless. But this also opens opportunities for easy access into company’s confidential files that can be critical to its operations. Many companies suffer the financial strain of data security breach from illegal access of their client’s personal data as well as their own records.

One of the most effective ways to maximize the benefits of the internet and at the same time keep the company’s network secure is through acquiring your own Virtual Private Network (VPN). Using the power of the internet, a Virtual Private Network can provide secure access to your company’s remote offices or employees to the company’s network.

This can be compared to a single line that is owned by your company that cannot be accessed by anyone else outside of the organization. Imagine each employee connected to the company through a virtual LAN, making it impossible for other people to access your company information. This will benefit companies who have branched out and those who have employees on the go who need instant access to the company files and information. A VPN ensures that all the members of your company are connected without fear of data breach or leakage.

Virtual Private Networks are able to ensure security because it only allows remote access that is authenticated and it uses encryption techniques. This principle allows unauthorized users to see only encrypted data if they are able to access the system, keeping all the organization’s data secure.

Along with the obvious business applications, virtual private networks also have found a home in the hands of consumers. These days consumers are often worried about transferring banking information online, making purchases using their credit cards, and transmitting other private data that could be used to their detriment if it fell into the wrong hands. There are many companies out there that have started providing virtual private networks for the everyday consumer. You can find some reviews and information about those type of VPN’s here.

Virtual Private Networks (VPN) is generally classified into 2 types as shown below:

  • Remote Access VPN – this type of VPN makes it possible for individual employees to be directly plugged in to the company’s main server through the internet. No matter where they are, employees can be connected through their computer or laptop using a software or application that is made solely for the use of the organization. This is ideal for company’s who have employees such as sales people who are always out on the field and need access to the company’s server.
  • Site to Site VPN – this type of VPN works best for organizations with multiple branches or offices. A site to site VPN allows your organization’s network to be extended to all the different locations while ensuring security of the organization’s data. This type of virtual private network can also use a dedicated software or application like the remote access VPN, but can most of the time a dedicated VPN client or equipment is used.

MacBook Security – Protect your data

It’s no secret that many people love their MacBook, and many of those who do not have one, want one. You know who else wants one? Thieves and hackers. Your MacBook, likely holds a great deal of your life. Work files, music, photos, and more. Are you taking the proper steps to make sure that information is protecting should someone swipe it from you? Here are a couple of things you should be doing.

LoJack Your MacBook

Much like the iPhone’s Find My iPhone app, which will help iPhone owners track down their stolen iPhone, there is a program that will work in a similar way for your MacBook. It is called LoJack by Absolute Software.

LoJack provides both data security and theft recovery services for you MacBook for $35.99 a year.

LoJack integrates into your system at the BIOS and firmware level. Many thieves think that simply wiping the hard drive of your stolen laptop will make it untraceable. However, when they connect to the internet, LoJack will start broadcasting the location of your MacBook, and the thief will never know.

Enable Your MacBook’s OS X Security Features

The Mac’s operating system has some pretty good security features built in. However, if you do not enable them before your MacBook is stolen, they really will not do you much good. Go into your OS right now and do these simple things.

Disable Automatic Login and Set a Password

Sure it makes like easier not having a password that needs to be entered every time you boot up your computer. However, not having one is just making it easy for a thief to grab all kinds of personal information.

Enable OS X’s FileVault Encryption

Just having a password to your system is not enough. Hackers can crack it. Even easier, most data thieves will just pull the hard drive out and plug it into another computer. Your drive is readable just like any other hard drive. They simply are bypassing your system password now.

In order to prevent this, use OS X’s built in file encryption tool called FileVault. It will encrypt and decrypt files associated with your profile on the fly using a password that you set. Without the password, the data is unreadable.

Turn on Your Mac’s Built-in Firewall

The OS X Firewall will prevent most hackers from breaking into your MacBook through the internet. Once enabled, the firewall simply blocks malicious inbound network connections. It will regulate your outbound traffic as well.

Install Your Patches

There is a reason that Apple puts out software patches. They identify exploits in their software that hackers can use to gain access to your system and steal vital information. As they identify them, they fix them and release the correction in a patch. It is vital that you keep your software updated to the latest versions to keep cyber thieves away.

Lock it Down

cable_lockIf a thief wants to steal your MacBook bad enough, they are going to. You want to make it as difficult as possible for them to steal it in order to discourage them so that they move onto something else.

The Kensington Lock, is a security device for physically locking your computer down. You can connect your computer to a steel cable and then loop that around a piece of furniture or some other object that is not easily moved. Every MacBook has a special slot called the Kensington Secuirty Slot. The lock connects through this slot.

Can the lock be picked, hacked open, or the cable cut? Yes. The idea is that a thief is going to avoid your MacBook that is locked down and go for an easier, less conspicuous target that is not locked down.

These are simple measures that anyone can implement to make their MacBook a little safer.