Financial institutions have felt the dramatic impact of the new working paradigm and find it is critical for employees to use Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) whenever possible and for IT to manage them effectively. The sheer volume of high-speed financial transactions every minute means that there is a need to ensure confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the data whenever a transfer is made — every transaction is an opportunity for a malicious actor to intercept sensitive information. And now when traders, bankers, and intermediaries work remotely and endpoints are less secure than ever, financial institutions are challenged to leverage whatever they can to maintain their cyber posture. VPNs offer an additional layer of defense for every transaction.

The challenges associated with remote working are not going to go away any time soon. The standard operating business model for IT has changed irrevocably, for better or for worse. A recent Gartner workforce study said that 82 percent of company leaders surveyed will let their employees work remotely some of the time. 41 percent said that they can work remotely most of the time. Remote work has become the new norm, and so it is no surprise then that global VPN demand has increased and is expected to increase even more looking ahead.

However, for IT today, especially in financial services, when every remote worker needs to connect over a VPN, handling VPN-related performance issues can be a challenge. Problems such as poor conference call quality over VPN, reduced application response times, and inability to access VPN at peak times all make it difficult for IT to effectively manage their VPN service. In fact, according to the VIAVI State of the Network Study, IT professionals found VPN oversubscription to be among the top challenges of managing remote user traffic growth.

As VPN demand has grown and continues to grow, and more employees are allowed and even encouraged to work remotely most of the time, nearly all enterprises are challenged to operate with a multifaceted, hybrid workforce. For financial institutions in particular, with traders and bankers working from home every day, it is imperative that IT is proactive, rather than reactive in tackling VPN related issues – when possible,  addressing VPN problems  before they escalate in severity.

To help with this, VIAVI has created a solution that delivers value across the VPN management lifecycle – Planning and Validation, Pre-Deployment Testing, Monitoring & Assurance, and finally VPN Troubleshooting:

In Phase 1, Planning and Validation, before rolling out a new VPN feature or service altogether, enterprises can emulate leading VPN vendor clients (Cisco AnyConnect, Pulse Secure) to get network performance insights and assess functionality of various security configurations when tunnels are established.

For financial institutions in particular, there is increased scrutiny into the selection, deployment, and maintenance of VPN vendors. After all, the VPN service itself is sometimes an attack vector. Furthermore, VPN vendors have aggressive roadmaps – new products and features on the VPN service are released frequently— creating a need to ensure that deployment does not disrupt service delivery. To mitigate the risk associated with security and network performance, customers often use our solution to do VPN testing on new feature(s) to avoid any disruptions, and test out various security configurations before going live.

In Phase 2, End to End Pre-Deployment Testing, enterprises can leverage End-User Experience scoring with the emulated VPN clients to immediately see that network KPIs are being met before  go-live, de-risking the chance of introducing performance-related issues. If you identify and fix issues before go-live, post launch service tickets are minimized or even eliminated.

Once the VPN service has been successfully deployed, in Phase 3, it is critical to monitor ongoing KPI’s to ensure optimal network performance and drive IT business delivery. Many VPN vendors provide basic monitoring and status capabilities, but they cannot provide the end-to-end holistic awareness needed for today’s complex IT environments. The VIAVI End-User Experience score plays a critical role here by delivering actionable insights into VPN performance and by, as we shall see, isolating where the problem lies. By leveraging NetFlow to gather volumetric data from VPN concentrators as well as the wire data that feeds into EUE, we can paint a comprehensive picture of the network’s VPN health.

Lastly, in Phase 4, we have the VPN Troubleshooting, which is about streamlining root cause analysis. In case of a poor VPN connection reported either by the end-user or by the monitoring solution, we can pinpoint root cause of network performance issues. The end-user or the IT support engineer can push PC client application to their remote users to run an industry standard TrueSpeed test to retrieve additional network KPIs.

Networks have always been the critical backbone of financial institutions. When the VPN service is performing sub-optimally, employees experience network disruption, data flow is interrupted, and even worse, sensitive, financial transactions are left insecure— a single breach could have disastrous consequences.

With remote working now the new normal, effective VPN management is paramount to optimizing the end-user’s experience and ensuring smooth service delivery to employees, consumers, and intermediaries.

To learn more about how to address the VPN challenges of today, visit viavisolutions.com/vpn.

About The Author

Sid Nanda

Sid Nanda is a Sr Solutions Marketing Manager at VIAVI Solutions, where he develops and drives the GTM strategy for cross-portfolio solutions in Enterprise & Cloud. He brings a wealth of experience delivering to market complex products in the cybersecurity space. Prior to his time at VIAVI, Sid was a PM at a cyber consultancy, where he worked on a variety of digital forensics, incident response, IP litigation, and proactive risk advisory engagements.

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