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Managing large-scale IoT security solutions with VPNs

Enterprises are experiencing a rapid evolution in technology that is challenging traditional security systems and infrastructures. The arrival of business-oriented IoT devices creates even more demand for secure connectivity.

Every employee now has his own smartphone and tablet communicating simultaneously with his company’s corporate network. Depending on the application, data will most likely be transmitted via public networks. This means that data is unsecure and open to everyone who is connected to the network.

To avoid security breaches, IT departments must secure connections for more users and devices than ever before. Providing encryption for the communications of many thousands of devices, virtual private networks (VPNs) are a tried-and-tested way to ensure sensitive company information remains secure and private.

When deploying VPNs for a multitude of devices, a large-scale management solution is essential. By simply adding more and more VPNs, new management challenges such as oversubscription, processing latency, bandwidth overload and network congestion arise.

As CIOs have a huge responsibility when implementing a large-scale VPN management solution, the following strategies can help streamline the process and guarantee a secure BYOD and IoT policy.

Centralized management

First, adopt a policy-based VPN management strategy. This gives IT administrators centralized control over VPN features and corporate policies, which is much simpler than having to manage devices individually.

A central, policy-based approach treats every location as an object in the system, assigning rules and rights automatically. Centrally managed VPN software automatically checks policy changes. Amended policies are then distributed quickly to all VPN gateways to keep them up to date. A further benefit of this strategy is that IT admins can keep track of all active VPNs on the network via a dashboard that shows their status in real time.

Network heterogeneity

When it comes to managing VPN clients on end-user devices, the strategy should support network heterogeneity. Employees are being given access to company data through various mobile platforms, especially as more and more devices are being brought into to the workplace. According to Gartner, 45% of the fastest-growing companies will have more smart devices than employees by 2018. Therefore, a VPN management system must support all operating systems to ensure employees can bring any IoT device to the office.

Seamless management of all the diverse communications channels, different operation systems, numerous user accounts and permissions that make up the corporate ecosystem is key. For example, to avoid the possibility of any security leaks at the connection points, the system needs to empower administrators with control over configuration and certificate distribution in a single instance.

Remote access VPN

Sixty percent of workers say they are more productive using VPN or remote access to the corporate network, according to eWeek.

A VPN client allows device connectivity issues like LAN access certification or authentication to occur automatically at the VPN gateway. The VPN management software must also filter and match all relevant data for VPN access like group membership, usernames and passwords. This strategy allows the VPN management system to take care of the client-device parameters needed for VPN connections.

It also avoids having to store connection criteria for individual devices centrally. In this way, the VPN management administrates all additional client parameters necessary for VPN connections and eliminates any need to make VPN-specific expansions of the schema or the database itself. Its integral systems automation frees up IT and administration staff from repetitive, mundane tasks.

IoT security

According to Ponemon Institute, the growing number of employees using personal and company-owned mobile devices to connect to corporate networks is the biggest endpoint security threat today. Large organizations may have thousands of endpoint devices accessing the network at any given moment. For administrators, managing all this in terms of individual components is time-consuming and complex.

Virtual private networks remain the ideal way for employees to access enterprise applications and systems securely. As the number of devices connecting to the network grows, managing every VPN can quickly become a complex, full-time operation.

The secret is to deploy a centralized, remote-access VPN management system to manage the policies and processed needed for the secure access of thousands of devices. To ensure this process occurs as smoothly and sustainably as possible, IT departments must be able to mitigate risks while paying careful attention to many changing variables.

Overall, the combination of a single, central administration point, software-engineering intelligence and built-in systems automation helps to optimize management efficiency which, in turn, can greatly enhance the productivity of IT departments and keep corporate networks secure.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.