In December, just as the Omicron variant created havoc for return-to-office plans for many companies here in Seattle, Pfizer’s CEO made an unsettling statement: COVID will reach endemic status by 2024. By “endemic” he means “a thing that creates a predictable, not-that-scary infection season like the flu.” And by “unsettling,” we mean that this suggests that Seattleites will be in and out of the office for the next two years.
With the prospect of a few more years of bouncing in and out of the office, you may want to consider using a cloud-based VPN and firewall like Cloudflare WARP.
TL;DR: Until now, VPNs have been a “necessary evil” for keeping remote work secure, but everyone hates their VPN. Cloudflare WARP for Teams is the VPN you don’t hate and – dare we say it? – you may actually love. Ask for more info.
To properly understand Cloudflare WARP, you must first understand VPNs.
The quick and easy way to understand VPNs is to imagine a phone call on a landline, in which you’re talking to your managing team about some top-secret company stuff (like sharing credit card numbers or planning your competitive strategy). You think your phone call is private but, unknown to you, someone has picked up a headset in the other room and is secretly listening to every word of your private conversation (AKA “wiretapping”). If you only had some way of making it so that your voice was only audible to your managing team and no one else, no one would be able to listen in on that call.
If you update this analogy by replacing “telephones” and “landlines” with “computers” and “the internet,” you can see how the same information is being shared (strategic planning docs, credit card transactions, etc.), just not over voice. You certainly wouldn’t want anyone secretly “listening in” or reading over your data. Unfortunately, cybercriminals have ways of listening in on those private data exchanges between computers – and, when activated, a VPN makes it so that your laptop’s transmitted data is only visible to your company servers.
Now that you get the basics of how VPNs work, you’re ready to understand Cloudflare WARP, which is a fast, secure, easy-to-manage VPN that your remote team can use to securely access company data in private.
For those of you already familiar with Cloudflare, you’ll be glad to hear that WARP for Teams includes the well-known Gateway and Access tools at almost no cost (for most companies).
As a VPN, WARP Cloudflare automatically tunnels all your data from your remote laptop through to Cloudflare’s heavily fortified network before it goes to your end applications (like Excel or QuickBooks). This makes your data invisible to snoops who want to “listen in” on that data exchange to steal information about your company, your customers, or whatever else they can get their hands on.
So, cool. Cloudflare hides your data. So do all good VPNs. What makes Cloudflare different and why are we talking about it here?
In essence, you have four really compelling reasons to choose Cloudflare for your cloud-based VPN and firewall:
This is great because, historically, it’s been difficult to get mobile devices to work well with VPNs and Remote Desktops. This has been an embarrassing oversight for tech companies, considering that people use their phones and tablets more often than their computers these days. This is a great reason to love Cloudflare.
We’ve talked about Zero Trust a lot on this blog because it’s an incredible and unique WFH security booster that requires convenient re-authentication each time a user wants to access additional data. However, all our blogs have focused on Zero Trust at the application level, whereas Cloudflare creates Zero Trust at the network level. Therefore, Cloudflare requires convenient re-authentication for network access, which addresses a lot of other embarrassing issues that tech has struggled with over the past few years.
If you’re the person at your company in charge of managing tech, we know you’ve spent too many days cursing the past two years of firewall maintenance tasks. When firewalls were in the office, they were easy to manage. Sure, they cost a good amount, but they freaking worked. With everyone working remotely, that firewall does little good and perimeters are a nightmare.
Cloudflare WARP for Teams re-simplifies the firewall process, mimicking the in-office firewall that works well and delivering heavy-duty controls over traffic – but it’s actually a virtual, cloud-based firewall that follows you and your staff everywhere, seamlessly. Thank god.
Let’s face it: most VPNs totally suck. They’re slow. They’re clunky. They make you feel like you’re using the internet in the late ‘90s. Until Windows 10, they led to a butt-ugly, generic desktop experience that hindered productivity and made you feel like you were using a computer from the late ‘90s! Old VPNs have a notable security flaw that hackers love to exploit and, for IT, adding apps and functionality into the Remote Desktop setup is a time-consuming hassle. In short: no one likes them but, since they weren’t used often, they’ve been seen as “good enough.”
In today’s world, and with the Pfizer CEO’s prediction that our current experience will last two more years, “good enough” is not going to cut it anymore. And that’s why we really love Cloudflare: it’s a great VPN and a great firewall – and you and your staff won’t even notice it running in the background. In fact, for a good portion of the web, Cloudflare WARP will make your browsing experience faster.
What’s not to love about that?
We strongly recommend that you use some sort of a VPN and firewall, but we know you have a lot of options. We know we sound like total fanboys here, but really, what we want is for our clients’ companies to be as safe as possible. Work is hard enough in our uncertain world, why make it harder by falling victim to a cyberattack or other disaster?
As a leading managed service provider in Seattle, the experienced and friendly team at Interplay is happy to walk you through all your options for increasing security and usability in a WFH setup. We want to make sure you’re both safe and happy – isn’t that what we all want right now?
For 20+ years, the friendly and knowledgeable team for IT services in Seattle, Interplay, has helped business leaders across a range of industries get more out of their tech, stress free. Not only are we always (and we mean always) happy to offer the best managed IT services, support, and advice, we’re also the team you can trust for the best cocktail recommendations here in Seattle or in Disney World – we’re versatile! All humor aside though, we’d love to help you get your IT running smoothly and securely, around the clock.