With many small business owners reporting gains in productivity up to 30 percent by adopting mobile work styles, you want to be sure to provide the right support for your remote workers. That means ensuring your mobile team has access to your company data; and there’s more than one way to do that.
Cloud storage makes remote access easy
Today, storing your data in the clouds makes it easy for your remote workers to access company files wherever they are; and many small business owners are on board, according to a recent Spiceworks survey. Cloud storage moves your network to a remote location managed by a provider so that your employees can access your company files as they need over the Internet.
Cloud storage providers protect your data from cyber-attacks by encrypting your data while it is stored on their drives and maintaining it that way during transport to the desktop or mobile devices. Only approved passwords can restore the data to readable files. That’s why it’s important to set guidelines for passwords; something many cloud providers do.
In choosing a cloud storage provider, ask about security; manageability in terms of adding and removing users and assigning access rights to folders; and of course cost – something to consider as your storage needs evolve.
Virtual private networks protect your file servers
Wi-Fi hotspots are everywhere these days, which means your mobile team can be accessing data from your company’s file servers from anywhere. Since most public networks are not secured, it puts your company data at risk from hacker attacks. You can easily protect your data from un-secured Internet connectivity with remote Virtual Private Network (VPN) access for mobile users. A VPN enables a remote computer to securely access your company network by encrypting data when it’s being sent and unencrypting it at the receiving end. So even if a hacker were able to access some of your data, it would be encrypted. VPNs also can help protect your network from viruses better than firewalls, which often compromise data access.
Establishing a secure VPN connection is relatively easy. A user first connects to the public internet through an ISP then through client software initiates a VPN connection with your company server. The server establishes the secure connection and permits a remote user access to your internal network.
There are many VPN software options on the market today at a range of prices. Have your IT manger or consultant check to see what’s available. There also are VPN hosting companies.
Which way to go?
When it comes to ease of setup and convenience, cloud storage has more advantages since you have to maintain and monitor a VPN. Depending on your storage needs over time, it may make sense to build and deploy your own servers, however.
As a small business owner, your concern is protecting your data but enabling your growing mobile workforce to access information they need when they need it. As you consider your options between the cloud and a VPN decide what works for your company now and what provides the best path as you grow. I’ll look at some hybrid options in future posts.
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