A Garter HR survey has revealed that 88 per cent of Australian organisations have encouraged or required employees to work from home during the coronavirus.
That’s a tremendous number of people logging on to the Internet from home every day. And, many of these people will be using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to keep crucial business information secure.
If you’re among these home-based workers, there are some things you need to know about using your VPN to work from home.
VPN is the shorthand used to mean Virtual Private Network. It is software that provides end-to-end encryption for your Internet connection.
It protects information stored on, or shared from, your device or network, and can securely connect multiple work sites to a shared network.
Right now, many businesses are supplying VPN access to their employees working from home. This means those people can access all the same files they would normally access in the office, but securely from home.
To anyone who cares to look, it will seem as though all those employees working from home are actually sending and receiving information from the office.
The VPN software sits between your computer and the World Wide Web. It encrypts your information as it leaves your device, driving it through a secure tunnel, and making sure it arrives safely at its desired destination without any illicit eyes and ears dropping in on it.
It acts as the middleman between you and the Internet so no-one knows who you really are, where you’re really from, or what lies beneath the encrypted data they see.
Think of it like the Wizard of Oz. You become the man from Kansas who is now hiding behind the curtain in the Emerald City. You start using a VPN and all anyone sees is the Wizard in the Royal Palace of Oz, certainly not the old guy from country America, and definitely no real information about you or from you.
In your business, most likely, your IT team will have purchased licenses to cover all the staff you have working offsite.
They will issue you with the instructions you need to follow.
The IT crew in your business is the best place to get help if you need it.
If you’ve subscribed to a personal VPN service, your VPN provider is best positioned to provide you with connection advice.
Because a VPN adds an extra process to the handling of your data as it travels across the World Wide Web, it has a nasty habit of slowing everything down.
If you’re on satellite Internet, you already have an unavoidable latency to contend with of approximately 600 milliseconds.
Using a VPN will slow this down further.
So, here’s our advice:
We say this because of two reasons.
Firstly, if you apply the VPN to your router, it means everyone in your house that connects to your WiFi will also connect to your VPN.
Secondly, you could forget that you’re using the VPN when you’re not working and not realise what is behind your slow connection.
REAL IMPACT CASE STUDY
A SkyMesh customer, working from home on a VPN, recently contacted our Customer Engagement Centre. They were concerned their connection was too slow.
The customer was asked to run a speed test with and without the VPN.
The woman and her husband ran speed tests side-by-side at the same time. Hers with a VPN. His without.
Her speed was 4Mbps download.
His speed was 23Mbps download.
When she turned off her VPN, her speed returned to 23Mbps.
We recommend this anyway when you’re using a satellite Internet connection.
But, when you’re using a VPN to transfer files, especially large files, we advise you to plan well ahead.
If you know you need large files for a meeting tomorrow, for example, consider downloading/uploading them overnight.
The latency that is inherent and unavoidable with satellite Internet is exacerbated when you add a VPN to the mix.
Latency has a much bigger impact on video than it does on audio because of the way the two data types are packaged for transfer across the Internet.
It all comes down to the size of the data packets. Video data packets are larger than audio data packets. And the visual stuff gets transferred separately to the audio stuff and its transfer is slower. This gives you a disjointed experience. The audio and the visual often fail to line up. People end up talking over each other. Confusion reigns supreme. It’s just awful.
If you stick to audio, you’ll have a much better, much smoother experience.
If you turn off your VPN, your Internet connection will get faster. A faster connection means your chance of a good video meeting is much higher
And if you’re on the new Sky Muster™ Plus, your meetings will be unmetered (whether they’re video or just audio) as long they’re not being run through a VPN.
With the new Sky Muster™ Plus, everything you do online is unmetered by default, except for VPN traffic and video streaming (things like Netflix, Stan and YouTube).
But video conferencing is 100 per cent unmetered on Sky Muster™ Plus.
If you take up a Sky Muster™ Plus, we actually recommend turning off your VPN for anything you do online that doesn’t involve sensitive information. You’ll get the most out of your connection this way because everything is unmetered except for VPN traffic and video streaming.