The coronavirus outbreak has led to a surge in demand for VPN around the world, this trend will increase as more people are forced to work from home to manage the pandemic. VPN providers like NordVPN provide an encrypted connection that allows users to securely connect to networks over the public Internet. Many businesses and organizations rely on these secure connections to ensure that only designated users can access their networks remotely.
While VPN usage has been common for a while, most of the cases are with externally hired employees who don’t usually make up the bulk of the average workforce. However, the virus has changed these dynamics, resulting in a massive increase in virtual users needing VPN services. Industry analysts and insiders expect this question to lead to challenges that must be addressed by both enterprises and VPN providers themselves. But in addition to the advantages of increasing VPN use, there are also disadvantages.
With the increased demand for VPN comes to an increased security risk. While the field has recently seen some innovative advancements in online privacy, the nature of current VPN technology makes it a prime target for exploiting users’ online privacy. All of a user’s data is essentially directed to one company, whose servers can be located anywhere and accessible to anyone. Malicious actors have long used VPNs as a way to collect data and inject so-called malware. Even seemingly harmless VPNs – due to poor security – can put users at risk in countries where VPNs are prohibited. Insecure VPN apps are routinely noticed and removed from the app store as they often conflict with the user’s online privacy.
Also, enterprise-level VPN use has developed its own set of separate but related problems. The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency released guidelines in early March, highlighting the increased potential risk during a pandemic-induced lockdown, and urging companies to take steps to scale and strengthen their corporate VPNs to fend off anticipated attacks on vulnerabilities.
Another aspect of these limitations is that from a security standpoint, VPN can provide broad access to entire network segments, often giving users access to more than they normally need to do their job. While some modern VPN solutions can get around this problem, they still require a lot of administrator configuration, resulting in potential complications that are further exacerbated when the increasing number of users are taken into account. Companies using VPN also have to deal with the fact that the services they use can only support a limited number of users. Most companies have not traditionally given VPN access to their entire workforce, so the services they use aren’t really set up to suddenly accommodate that much people. To handle a sudden influx of users, companies need to purchase additional hardware and also purchase additional licenses from their VPN provider.
However, dealing with the sudden surge in demand could be challenging for many providers. Some VPNs are based on proprietary hardware that can only manage a certain number of users. If you put thousands of new users on hardware that can only handle 200 users, for example, problems are bound to arise.
Making sure those customers have the configuration they need can be challenging, as managing a remote team of 20 employees versus 2,000 companies involves significant configuration differences. Those previously associated with an office will find that not only is the remote experience pleasant, but they also prefer to enter the office rather than spend the lost hours commuting.