Preparing Your Network for Working From Home

Preparing Your Network for Working From Home

As the COVID-19 outbreak spreads and “social distancing” becomes a household phrase, many companies are organizing an unprecedented shift toward working from home. So this week’s Tech Thursday article will focus on how your company can provide the resources your employees need to stay productive during these events.

Next week, we’ll look at some tips you can give to your newly minted remote workers so that they can enjoy a comfortable and productive work environment.

Take Stock of Your Environment

If you’re not already supporting a 100% remote environment, then you will have to make some changes to your network and resources in order to support work-from-home. But if your business is already utilizing cloud services, then you may have less distance to cover than you think.

First, take an inventory of the apps and services that your users need for their everyday work. Cloud-based webapps will need little or no changes to support your users working from home. But on-prem services and line-of-business apps will require VPN access into your network.

Speaking of VPN, do you already have a VPNc endpoint on your network? Is it up to date, and do you have enough concurrent connection licenses available for the number of users you will need to support? If it’s a standalone VPNc appliance, does it have the capacity for the number of connections and bandwidth you’ll need?

What about your terminal server/remote desktop environment? If you’re used to only a handful of concurrent connections, you may be surprised at the amount of CPU and RAM a fully-loaded RDS server can consume.

Make A Plan

Once you’ve determined both your users’ needs and your existing capabilities, it’s time to make a plan to get your network to where it needs to be.

With a rough estimate of how many VPN connections and remote desktop resources you’ll need, you can determine how to scale up your network to accommodate it. You may need to work with management on some compromises. Can some job functions be shifted or modified to be more cloud-friendly? Questions like these may show that the changes you need to make aren’t as drastic as you thought.

Focus on Security

Remote work can introduce a number of security challenges and issues. An improperly configured VPN could give attackers full access to your network. So now’s the time to review your security settings and policies to make sure they’re going to keep you secure.

For example, a firewall should be used to separate VPN traffic from the rest of your network. And VPN clients should only be allowed to access specific ports and/or hosts on your network. For example, if all of your clients will be using RDP back to a terminal server or their desktop, just open port 3389 from the VPN to your internal network. Doing so will reduce your potential attack surface.

Provide Good Support

For many, working from home will be a new experience. If your users aren’t familiar with using a VPN or remote desktop, be sure to provide them with clear documentation. Spending a bit of time on this up-front will save you a lot of hassle later.

It will also be good to provide them with some tips and suggestions for working from home, along with setting expectations for how it will be different from working in the office. We’ll cover some of those things in next week’s article.

Re-configuring your network to prepare for an influx of remote users isn’t something you should have to do alone. If you’d like some help with upgrading your VPN or other infrastructure to support work-from-home, contact E-N Computers today. We help businesses like yours to solve technical problems so that you can focus on running your business. Contact us today to set up a consultation.