Some Yahoo!s may be putting an end to work from home policies, but for the rest of us the remote worker has become a mainstay in the modern enterprise. In fact, even the US government has a telecommuting policy to enable federal employees to work from home. When you consider how easily and how often we take work home on our laptops, a lot of employees start to look a little like remote workers.
However, road warriors, including the likes of regional managers, sales executives, consultants and field agents spend countless hours traveling between different cities and states, often connecting to the Internet through Wi-Fi hot spots at airport lounges, hotel lobbies and coffee shops. These ad hoc connections are a matter of necessity for mobile workers, but the security and productivity challenges they introduce hardly make them convenient.
Anyone that has used a VPN to connect to their corporate network from home knows it can be a frustrating experience, but it becomes even more inconvenient the further an employee travels from the headquarters since backhauling traffic increases latency and bandwidth costs. There is also considerable risk connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, especially without a VPN, since it is difficult to detect if connections are compromised or malicious until it is too late. Finally, VPN usage is not practical on a consistent basis for mobile devices – the impact to battery life can be quite dramatic.
In the past, I’ve provided some advice to protect against compromised Wi-Fi, such as blocking all pop-ups and ensuring you closely follow the directions to connect. Another approach to mitigating the risk and complexity of securing mobile workers is to utilize a distributed cloud infrastructure, which can eliminate hardware and software requirements to protect any user and any application on any device, anywhere without latency. For example, the Zscaler Security Cloud leverages more than 100 data center nodes that process more than 10B transactions per day for more than 10M users, enabling security teams to detect threats and protect users even outside the corporate network.