Do you need VPN for your small business?

(Image credit: Image Credit: Centurylink internet)

All businesses, big or small, need a Virtual Private Network or VPN, as it’s called. Be it for security, remote access to company data or its cost-effectiveness, companies, and organisations want it. The popularity of VPN dates back to when the majority of users wanted a private and albeit, an improved browsing experience the moment they logged on. Today, demand from businesses and individual users who want to use private VPN networks is growing. And it has stemmed from want of increased security to access a private network in a remote geographic location. But there are factors you should look into when opting for VPN services. The first question you should ask yourself is does your company need a VPN connection?

Added security

Cyber-attacks are fairly common. According to some estimates, around 40 per cent of cyber-attacks specifically target small businesses. And that’s the reason why cybersecurity should be of utmost concern if you’re going to put your business or services online. So, your IT team should implement some basic security measures, which include encryption, firewall protection, and security policies. What a VPN connection does is it provides an added layer of protection for your business. Increasing your online presence by using a private network will make sure your internet is encrypted and will guarantee a private connection. So, get xtream internet Mediacom specials for uninterrupted connectivity.

Public internet is insecure

Connecting to a public network can be a security threat, especially if you’re going online to access company data. If and when employees are on a business trip they have no choice but to go online using a public internet connection if they’re staying in a hotel or are in a restaurant. And because connecting to a public network is so quick and easy these days, privacy doesn’t really cross your mind. Public networks are a hacker’s playground. So, just imagine if you’re trying to access your company data and your connection is hacked? How much information could be and would be compromised as a result. A VPN is secure as it creates a dedicated and encrypted connection to the internet.

Remote access to company infrastructure

When you’re on your business trip some geographical locations may have content blocks and restrictions. Not a good thing if you need to check your bank account or access websites and apps. But with a VPN connection when traveling, you can log on to a specific server to connect to the internet. However, the country and server you select and not your actual location will determine the IP address. Perfect if you want to check your social media messages, especially if you’re in China where Facebook is banned.

Cost-effective

The great advantage of a VPN connection is it isn’t expensive. Internet service providers or ISPs offer different plans and you can choose the one that suits you best. All you have to do is just sign up for a plan, turning on the network, choose country settings and your business can enjoy the enhanced internet security that VPN provides.

What a VPN won't do

If you’re tech-savvy you’ll know that there are multiple ways your behaviour can be tracked online. Even with a VPN, web services like Amazon, Google, Facebook and others can track your internet usage with cookies even after you've exited their sites. Also, VPNs can only do so much to keep you anonymous online. So, if you really want to be anonymous on the net or access the dark web, for instance, use Tor. Unlike a VPN, Tor goes through several server nodes, which means it’s harder to trace. Being a product of a non-profit organisation it is distributed free. Some VPN services will even connect to Tor for added security.

It may be mentioned that VPN services are not philanthropic organisations as they are in the business for profit. They have expenses to take care of, face subpoenas and warrants and abide by the laws of the country in which they officially reside. So, it’s very important that you should read a VPN’s privacy policy and find out where its headquarters are.

Another thing is that you can’t trust a VPN as they can hide data and information from the law. There are some that stay within their privacy policy but there are others that don’t. So, do your homework before setting out to opt for their service.

Surely, you want to find the perfect tool that will protect you from all possible threats. Like in the real world, the cyber world too, if someone targets you specifically and is willing to put in the effort, they will find you. Beware that malware is the enemy of your VPN on your device. It can also be overcome by analysing traffic and matching its behaviour on your computer to act on the VPN server. But the good news after all that scary stuff is that implementing security tools like a VPN will ensure that you won't become an easy target.

Privacy issues

There are some complications that may arise from using a VPN and they do need some consideration. For instance, VPN won’t let you stream on Chromecast. You can encrypt your data from your laptop, but your Chromecast or AppleTV won't know how to stream it. Also, now smart home devices have the capability of gathering lots of data about you and your home that you wouldn’t want to be pried upon. But even these devices can’t run VPNs. The solution? Install a VPN on your router. This encrypts data sent over your safe home network online. The information sent over your network will be unencrypted allowing all smart devices connected to your network to enjoy a secured connection.

Oh, and if you like Netflix, too bad. Netflix hates VPNs. Netflix in the US is different from Netflix in England, which is also different from Netflix in Australia. You get the picture. Netflix makes sure that you will not see streaming content that is not licensed for your region, and so blocks most VPNs. But some VPNs still stream movies and TV shows and a VPN that works with Netflix today might not tomorrow.

Speed is another issue with VPNs. Using a VPN is going to increase your latency or "ping", and decrease your upload or download data transfer. Also, gamers want one with low latency.

Robert James, content editor, Centurylink internet
Image Credit: Centurylink internet