You may know what a VPN (virtual private network) is; chances are that you are familiar with the large-scale corporate VPN technology that allows employees to access company’s networks remotely and securely. However, the smaller-scale B2C VPN services are different and may be useful in multiple ways, especially in small or medium businesses.
VPNs connect you to the Internet through an encrypted tunnel. VPN servers act as a relay between the Internet and a computer, so nobody could see what data is being shared over the Internet. A VPN service provider, such as NordVPN, may offer multiple benefits to entrepreneurs or small to medium businesses, some of which we’ll discuss here.
1. Secure Communications:
With your employees using a VPN service, their internet connection will be secured behind a layer of strong encryption. Although defending from malware and viruses will require different tools, a VPN will protect sensitive data from being exploited by hackers. This is especially relevant if you and your team work remotely or travel a lot and use untrusted networks. Checking your email at a coffee shop or using your phone’s Wi-Fi to log into Facebook at an airport could potentially put you at risk, so encrypting your communications is essential.
2. Business Travel:
If your employees travel overseas regularly, they need to be able to access all the same websites and services they use normally. However, many countries have various internet restrictions in one form or another. Messaging apps and VoIP services are often blocked in the Middle East and Asia to protect local telecommunication companies. Social media networks face frequent interruptions in countries with authoritarian regimes. Even travelling to a neighbouring country may prevent you from accessing some regional content.
However, a VPN service allows you to bypass nearly all such restrictions by connecting to a server in your home country. This way, your IP address will appear as if you are based in that country, even though you actually may be thousands of miles away.
As well as bypassing blocked websites and services, your employees may also need to access private company data and other such data sensitive services during a business travel. However accessing such sites from abroad runs the risk described before of exposing data to security hackers. This is why its crucial that your employees be trained in and have use of a secure connection when working abroad or just out of the office, even using a non-paid for vpn service, whilst not ideal is better than no VPN service whatsoever.
The scope of modern online crime means that you have to be cautious at every turn: manage your passwords, change them quarterly, use tools to protect your systems from viruses and malware, sign out of your accounts after each session, and so on. A VPN service is simply one of these methods to secure your online activities but it’s an important one, providing an extra layer of encryption for your communications, financial transactions, etc. Also, bear in mind that not all VPNs are made the same. Choose one that offers reliable security protocols such as the industry-standard OpenVPN or the ultra secure IKEv2/IPsec.
4. Safe Browsing for Your Customers:
If you own a coffee shop or another business, offering free Wi-Fi to your clients is a good idea, it’s really important to monitor the security of the network to prevent the public Wi-Fi pitfalls mentioned in section 1. The best way to do so is using a VPN service to secure your router and encrypt your customers’ communications. Although not all VPN providers have this option, NordVPN has instructions on how to set up VPN for your router and even offers its own branded routers. This is a great way to gain trust and appreciation of your clients.
5. Location-Based Testing:
Many internet websites and services produce different results depending on where you are based. For instance, Google changes its interface and search results depending not only on the country you’re in but even on the exact location. A VPN service allows you to replace your IP address so you can appear to be browsing from a different country. This helps you make sure that any location-based services you’re using are working correctly.
Demand for VPN services has been growing steadily over the years, owing to the rise of Internet usage as well as the increasing number of online threats. The importance of data security and privacy for both businesses and individuals is likely to continue rising in the future, with agencies and advertisers inventing more sophisticated ways to track Internet users and cyber-criminals exploiting any available security gaps. High-scale hacking and leaking scandals have also contributed to the increasing realisation that strong encryption is simply as essential as anti-virus software and firewalls.
Meanwhile, VPN providers will continue making their products easier to use and more accessible for users who are not necessarily tech-savvy and do not want to delve into the intricacies of encryption protocols. While strong security often comes at a price of reduced connection speed, this tradeoff is also likely to become less significant with improving technologies.
However, waiting for a better time to jump on the VPN bandwagon may not be wise. The sooner you take steps to secure your online communications, the more secure it is for your business.