Back in Mid-October Ars Tecnica published an editorial by John C. Welch calling for the death of VPNs. The article promoted the concept that the biggest technical security issue companies and IT departments face is the “lost laptop” problem and that this problem can be solved by keeping sensitive information “in the cloud.”  The editorial made the point that VPNs are cumbersome and overused.

Today Rainer Enders published a rebuttal op-ed in support of VPNs. Mr. Enders argues, in part, that one of the biggest issues facing companies was hackers in general and specifically the protection of all corporate data, both on the systems where it is stored and when it is in transit. As more and more employees work not only from home but from WiFi hotspots in coffee shops, fast food restaurants and hotel rooms around the world, encrypting sensitive information end-to-end has ever-increasing importance.

Mr. Enders Op-ed is much more in touch with the way businesses need to operate in today’s networked world. Yes, there are corporate features and functions that can be pushed off physical corporate computers and onto the hardware at hosting companies. This does not mean that all information can or should be placed in fully public cloud environments and it certainly doesn’t mean that your information in “the cloud” is safe just because you can account for all your employees laptops and smart phones.

Corporations do not need to make either/or choices. Less sensitive, collaborative projects might be best hosted at massive cloud providers while the most sensitive information needs to be more carefully protected on private servers only accessible via the local corporate network and remote access VPNs.

At least once a week I work off-site. While I don’t need a VPN to reach my email, I do use a VPN to get access to in-house documents and systems. I use VPN Tracker from equinux on my Mac. It is simple and easy for both me (as an end user) and our IT staff that has to support us normal users.

Because we use them ourselves and understand the benefits, we made sure our new vmForge VDC product line supported both site-to-site VPNs for remote offices *and* desktop (end user) VPNs for remote workers. vmForge VDCs configured with Fortigate firewalls will support end-user VPNs and ipHouse can set them up and manage them for you.