Are you secure during this lockdown?
Due to more and more peo...
The demand for VPN services has soared during this lockdown, but so have security risks, we evaluate the pros and cons, below.
Due to more and more people working from home due to the coronavirus, the need for services like broadband and virtual private networks are surging, but as we learnt with Zoom you need to be prepared for events like this so nobody even thinks to question your cybersecurity, you can read more about the challenging situation of Zoom, here.
According to new investigations from Top10VPN, demand for VPNs increased by 44% over the second half of March and remains 22% higher than pre-pandemic levels. While US demand has waned slightly since it peaked at 65% above average on March 23.
In the months prior to the outbreak, VPN use had already grown to include around 31% of internet users. Post-outbreak, however, Top10VPN found demand surged in 75 countries since COVID-19 social distancing measures were implemented, doubling prior levels in 21 countries.
Despite the rapid expansion of user bases, most VPNs appear to be surfing the user wave rather than drowning.
Figures released by NordVPN revealed that global use of its business-focused VPN had increased by 165% since March 11, with US and the UK usage jumping by 66% and 48% respectively. While the numbers mainly reflect the use of NordVPN's corporate-level product, the results still reflect a surge in total remote work hours put in by individual users.
It's not just the tidal waves of email and the additional load of Zoom conferences that are causing enormous global spikes in VPN use, though. Top10VPN research points to some family-friendly culprits behind the traffic spikes. For example, the recent release of Disney+ and the increased viewing time of streaming applications like Netflix.
Is it safe?
With increased VPN demand comes increased security risk. While the field has recently seen some innovative privacy developments, the nature of current VPN technology makes it a prime target for exploitation. All of a user's data is essentially funneled to a single company, whose servers may be located anywhere, and accessed by anyone.
Malicious actors have long used VPNs as cheaply created vehicles for data harvesting and malware injection. Even seemingly innocuous VPNs can -- via shoddy security -- endanger users in countries where VPNs are outlawed. Insecure VPN apps are routinely spotted and removed from app marketplaces.
In early April, Google removed one of the most popular VPN apps in its Play Store due to a significant security vulnerability that opened users up to a common hack, known as a "man in the middle" attack, where users' data is intercepted by an unauthorized third party.
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”