Craig discusses VPNs, How they work, and Why they might not be protecting you as much as you think.

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Automated Machine-Generated Transcript:

[00:00:00] Hey everybody. Craig Peterson here on WGAN. Welcome. welcome. Hey, if you missed the first hour, I just want to remind you that you can catch it online. I podcast this whole show every week on your favorite podcasting application or website. Just look for me, Craig Peterson, or visit Craig Peterson dot com. Cause I have them all there as well.

You did miss a lot that first hour because we talked about the new website attacks that are underway that are hurting you, me, as well as businesses that have just set up websites recently. It is a bad state of affairs. We talked about company identity-related breaches that are happening. The coming disruption to college. What Google Chrome is doing to stop some of these resource-draining ads. That are

[00:01:00] actually rather, I wouldn’t say the malicious, but they are stealing from you. They’re using your computer to mine for Bitcoin for them. I suspect this is actually going to get a lot worse. Maybe that’s why Google is finally taking action with the Chrome browser.

The reason I think that this is really going to start taking off is that the Bitcoin value is about to be halved. What happens at that point, normally in the marketplace, if a stock’s worth, let’s say a hundred dollars and they halve it, it’s worth $50. There’s a lot of pressure for that stock value to increase back up to the pre-split amount, back up to the hundred dollars point.

What the problem is when it comes to these cryptocurrencies is yes indeed they can go ahead and split it and say it’s worth half of what it used to be worth. But now the people that are mining for the Bitcoins are in for a whole different world. And the different world is, Hey, I can

[00:02:00] barely break even, right now, in fact, in most places like here in the Northeast, electricity is so expensive that it costs you more to mine for Bitcoin, and it cost you more than electricity than the Bitcoin is worth. So once they halve the value, now, all of a sudden it’s just not worth mining anymore. So that’s going to be an interesting result.

Another really interesting analysis too, of Bitcoin this week and this kind of U-shaped factor that it has based on the key sizes and little too geeky to get into here.

This is not a Bitcoin show. But it is a show about your security, what you can do and what you should do just this week, we installed some network equipment, a whole new set of network equipment for a lady named Sue down in mass and we were talking with Sue about it. We had preconfigured everything shipped it out, helped her with

[00:03:00] it. She was having some problems trying to figure out. Okay. So what plugs into what I think next time, maybe we’ll just make sure everything’s all plugged in before we ship it out. But we had one our guys go by, he only lives about 20 minutes away from Sue. He went and five minutes later, everything was done.

But while he was there installing this whole new network for Sue’s company, there was an interesting conversation that ensued because Sue told him that I was anti-VPN. As well as a couple of other things that I was against, the truth is yeah, I’m anti these commercial VPN services that they keep trying to sell you.

I read a summary this week from a respected place. They must have people writing articles now that don’t know what they’re doing. I’ve certainly seen that, people in third world countries, second world countries, that don’t know what they’re doing. But they’re cheap to hire as a writer. So they hire them as

[00:04:00] writers and off they go with their cheapness, not really understanding things.

This article said,” Hey, yeah, you should use a VPN because it’s going to keep your data safe. It keeps it encrypted. It’s great. great.” I, of course. Just rolled my eyes and lost respect for them.

VPNs have a use, but it’s very limited use and that’s what Sue had caught on when she attended one of my webinars talking about VPNs and how you can best use them. They are useful. They were invented in order to help businesses with their data and keep their data safe, connect offices together, et cetera.

They are not great for just going to your bank website. In fact, you could be in more of a security problem if you use a VPN for your bank than if you don’t use a VPN for your bank. So I’ll just keep that all straight.

I figured now’s a good time to talk about this. There’s a great article in

[00:05:00] dark reading this week that I put up on my website as well. You can find it there.

This article is talking about challenges that exist with VPNs, and this is really a big deal. A VPN can be a step in the right direction. If someone’s trying to use a VPN, they’re probably trying to do the right thing, but it’s really not a be-all and end-all when it comes to security. Not only does it fall short in many ways, but as I’ve explained in my webinars, it takes a lot longer to explain than I have time for right now. If you want to catch a criminal, you go to where the criminals are.

If you want to find people that are trying to keep their information secret or quiet, you go to where the VPN exit points are and that’s exactly what’s been happening. It isn’t just the five eyes or the nine eyes or the 14 eyes it’s organized crime. It’s just all over the place. Be very careful. In March of 2020, all of a sudden

[00:06:00] everything changed. Everything shifted. We saw a huge shift in people starting to work from home. Some businesses had to stay open. They didn’t necessarily have to have the employees right there in the office. And according to them, Gartner survey, that just happened here with chief financial officers. Gartner’s reporting that 74% of organizations will move at least 5% of their previously onsite workforce to permanently remote positions following them pandemic. That is pretty good. Three-quarters of all businesses. Are going to move, give or take one 20th of their onsite workers to offsite.

I was going to have a major impact on everything, on real estate and obviously the technology side too. But let’s talk a little bit about VPNs right now and what are they good for? What are they not good for? So point number one. VPNs now,

[00:07:00] remember I said they’re great for businesses, point to point, they replaced the leased lines. That’s what they were invented for initially.

But typical traditional VPNs have a device that’s at the business office. That piece, that device, that piece of hardware can usually only handle a certain number of users. That’s also true with the data line that’s coming into your office. If you don’t have enough bandwidth to support all of these things. People accessing their desktops, or in some cases I know businesses that have a database running at the main office.

Then there are clients, there’s software on people’s remote workstations that make hundreds of not thousands of requests against this database. That’s not the best way to do it by the way.

If you’re interested, maybe we can talk about that sometime. I’ll put something up in one of the webinars.

Here’s the problem with that?

[00:08:00] The VPN and the data lines can only handle just so much data. Many businesses came up with the specs for their VPN appliances. Pre- COVID-19, Pre pandemic. How many people were actually fully using it?

Then, for instance, we have a client an auto dealer, and the only time they used the VPN was when the comptroller was out of training or something, it might happen during the weekend. One of the supervisors would have to hop on.

That’s a lot different than once a pandemic starts. Now there are all of a sudden focused on their websites and their online sales and everything else that’s going on. So it’s a huge difference. So that surge and teleworking that occurred really made these VPNs fail.

Companies struggling to figure out how to scale to support so many users. So that’s part of what had been helping businesses with. There’s a lot of creative approaches

[00:09:00] going on, such as limiting VPN use to certain workers. There have been businesses that have been taking the shifts and moving them around.

So there’s a shift that starts at eight. I need another one that starts at 10 and another one that starts at noon so that there are fewer people on the VPN. Maybe they’re only on the VPN for a certain number of hours, but frankly, those are not long term viable strategies. VPNs are also failing to balance productivity and security.

Because let me tell you productivity and security have been at loggerheads with each other for a very long time and VPNs don’t fix this problem. In fact, they make it worse. Because now not only are you overloading the VPN, all of the gateways and the firewalls are slowing down everybody’s productivity. These home users on their home networks with home computers that are

[00:10:00] infected are now connecting to the network and that infection’s getting transferred.

Unfortunately, that transfer is to the main office. Hey, a VPN ain’t gonna help with that.

Mobile devices. VPNs are encrypted and the encryption that they use is very complex and it causes problems on our devices. Our mobile devices were not made to handle that. They have to continually update their keys, they’re sharing the public keys and their session key. They just can’t handle it. Frankly, VPNs are not built for the modern workforce.

There are so many ways this really should be done and unfortunately is not being done. VPNs. They are not a panacea.

When we come back, let’s talk about our remote teams. We’ve had months. Time to relaunch.

[00:11:00] You’re listening to Craig Peterson right here on WGAN and online@craigpeterson.com.

Stick around. I’ll be right back.

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