Over the past year the COVID-19 pandemic has forced millions of federal employees to work from home. And this trend is likely to continue even in a post-pandemic world. For example, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is working on guidance to help agencies pursue remote and telework opportunities going forward, Robert Shriver, the Associate Director of Employee Services at OPM, said during a recent teleworking event.
Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) is launching an agency-wide review to explore telework and virtual options. USDA officials are considering several changes to the department’s pre-pandemic telework policy to better accommodate its employees.
All of this activity suggests that government agencies are keenly focused on employee productivity when working from home. Therefore, now is the time for agencies to make sure their workforce has the most secure and efficient remote network connectivity. Working from home has posed a variety of unique challenges for everyone, and connectivity to the agency network is no exception. Remote employees need enterprise-level security, reliability, and performance from their remote connection.
Remote Connectivity & Security Challenges
Today, remote workers use a mix of wired and wireless devices to access a host of datacenter resources, transferring large amounts of information across the network daily. Critical applications such as email, messaging, voice, video, and cloud-based applications must all work seamlessly from the home office.
This expansive telecommuting activity has increased the potential for exposure of sensitive information to unauthorized individuals. As a result, most remote workers are required to use a VPN (virtual private network) to connect to their agency’s network. But each day more and more VPN vulnerabilities are exploited by malicious cyber actors, as the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) reported several months ago.
Another concern is that agencies may have a fixed number of VPN connections available, limiting the number of employees that can connect at any one time. Furthermore, many employee devices don’t even support a VPN client. This decreased availability hampers employee productivity and limits the effectiveness of the agency in achieving its mission.
To address some of these challenges, other remote connectivity solutions are being touted in the market today such as SD-WAN (Software-Defined Wide Area Networks). However, these solutions were not designed for individuals working from home. They are overly complex, expensive to implement, and require specialized routing hardware in the homes of each employee.
A Better Way for Home Networks
CommScope Enterprise Home Networking is a much simpler way to extend network services securely and efficiently to remote workers. The solution is based on industry-leading RUCKUS® wireless access points in the home, connected to a Department of Defense (DoD) certified RUCKUS SmartZone Controller residing in the agency datacenter.
The connection is made using SSH (Secure Shell), GRE (Generic Routing Encapsulation), and IPsec (Internet Protocol Security) encrypted tunneling technologies. This allows wireless and wired traffic to be securely tunneled from the access point in the home to the agency datacenter. Remote workers can access all of the resources as if they were physically connected to the local area network (LAN) in the office.
Agencies can now equip their employees with a dedicated high performance wireless access point to securely connect all their devices to the agency network without the need for VPN or SD-WAN. The architecture can cost-effectively scale to 30,000 simultaneous users, while giving IT administrators the visibility and analytics they need to manage the network.
The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly sparked a dramatic shift in network demand for remote workers, prompting the need for more bandwidth and capacity. CommScope’s Enterprise Home Networking solution offers proven DoD-certified hardware to meet these challenging demands, while offering the performance, simplicity, and flexibility that employees should expect, without compromising security.
To learn more, please download our Solution Brief, and reach out to set up an in-depth briefing by one of our Solution Architects to discuss your agency’s specific use case.