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How can my telecommuting employees safely dial into my company network?

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Offices & Operations mentor Mie-Yun Lee responds to the following question from an inc.com user:
It seems like telecommuting would benefit my business and my employees. Do I have to worry about my business's security when my employees are dialing into the network?

Mie-Yun Lee's response:

If you are going to have employees accessing the network from home, you should consider getting a virtual private network (VPN). Not only will it protect your data, but there's a good chance it will save you money.

A VPN allows employees to access your corporate network through the Internet, as opposed to dialing directly into the network. Although you are connecting over a public network (the Web), the data is encrypted, making it "private."

The other big benefit of a VPN is that it's cost effective. When employees dial in to the network, it's a regular phone call. If your employees live out of town, you could rack up a pretty high phone bill with hours of long-distance calls. With a VPN, you simply make the call to your ISP. Most likely each employee will have a local number to do that, so there's no cost. Get a free quote for an Internet service provider at www.buyerzone.com.

Implementing a VPN is easier than you think. Although larger companies outsource to pricey telecommunications firms to get a top-notch VPN, a software solution will work fine for a smaller business. Turn to a software vendor specializing in Internet security for VPN software, which is installed directly onto your server. Expect to pay about $500 for your server software and around $70 for each client (desktop PC or notebook computer) you add to your network. You'll also need a server ($3,000 to $5,000) if you don't have one ready to use.

The downside is managing a VPN, which can be quite a task, especially if you don't have an IT department. Once it's installed and set to go, be prepared to handle tasks like maintaining each user's account and handling encryption keys.

Copyright © 2001 inc.com LLC

Last updated: Jul 3, 2001




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