7 keys for choosing a mobile VPN app

As more companies embrace BYOD, it’s becoming critical to make sure users can securely access the data they need for work from their mobile devices. In this guest post, IT security writer Raymond McLemore offers some advice for choosing a mobile VPN app. 

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With more and more employees using personal devices to access corporate information systems, IT teams are faced with a huge security challenge. Before letting users access corporate networks, IT should require the use of a strong mobile VPN on all mobile devices.

Here are some characteristics IT should look for before approving a mobile VPN application:

1. Platform

With BYOD programs, IT loses much of its control over the mobile device platform that employees use, so they should look for a mobile VPN that works across all major platforms such as iOS, Android and Windows Phone. By selecting a broadly available VPN app, IT limits the number of apps tech staff need to learn and support.

2. Ease of configuration

Users won’t have much patience if the VPN slows down their connection or doesn’t connect readily. Because most users are non-technical, IT will also want to be sure that configuring the VPN for corporate access is easy and uses minimal jargon. Remote configuration on first sign-on can help to eliminate issues.

3. Centralized management

IT will want to be sure that they can manage changes and updates to the VPN app without relying on users to do it themselves or bring their devices in to an office. IT should also look for remote wipe capabilities in case of a lost or stolen device.

4. Malware protection

IT is responsible for protecting the corporate network from viruses, spyware and other forms of malware. Selecting a VPN app that includes strong protection makes it easier to keep the network clean. Updating virus files centrally can ensure that the company is protected form the latest viruses. Intrusion prevention is also a key feature.

5. Supported protocols

Make sure the VPN app supports PPTP, L2TP and L2TP/IPSec CRT if you need these. These terms may baffle end users, so as stated above, easy configurability or centralized management will be important to minimize connection issues due to improper protocol setup.

6. No password memory

Users love the password memory feature because it simplifies logins, but IT should find a way to disable this if at all possible. Password memory means that if the device is lost or stolen, the bad guys have easy access to your network. Password memory capability is one area where you don’t want to give in to users’ pleas. Require strong passwords, frequent password changes, and if you can, enforce the manual entry of the password with every connection.

7. Bandwidth control

Many users will want to connect with multiple devices, including phones, tablets and their personal or company PCs. Three or four connections per user can eat up a lot of bandwidth with no increase n productivity. Ensure that your chosen VPN apps allow you to regulate bandwidth allocations by device, user, time of day, application and number of connections. Educate your users about activities that will slow down their available bandwidth to minimize the number of support calls.

While managing a seemingly endless number of possible mobile devices can seem daunting, a properly selected and enforced mobile VPN app can simplify the process and keep the network safe. Choosing the right mobile VPN to allow users access to the corporate network doesn’t have to be difficult if you look for these simple features.

About the author: Raymond McLemore is a Web Editor for ITSecurityWatch.com and writes about a wide variety of tech security issues.  Learn more about mobile security at ITSecurityWatch.com

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