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Everything a Business Owner Needs to Know About VPNs

Cybersecurity risks are a very real concern and every business owner should take steps to mitigate them. Firewalls and up-to-date antivirus software are crucial, but there’s always room for improvement when it comes to keeping sensitive company and client information secure. That’s where Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) come in.

What is a VPN (Virtual Private Network)?

A VPN is exactly what its name says it is; it’s a private network of computers within the virtual space. The computers in the network don’t need to be anywhere near each other as they are connected online. Through various protocols including Secure Socket Layer (SSL), Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Internet Protocol Security (IPsec), VPNs create private connections between terminals that are linked to the public online network.

Small Business VPNs

The easiest way to think of a VPN is as a private tunnel that protects the information that moves through it. For business owners, this is vital since a lot of data is sensitive and needs to be kept private. With end-to-end encryption, this is exactly what a VPN achieves. As well as linking individual workstations together in a single virtual network, VPNs can connect multiple networks, so they are perfect for companies and corporations of any size.

VPNs Improve Network Security

Because VPNs create private information tunnels between devices and company servers the communications and data are far more protected than they would be if you or your employees were just using the underlying public network structures.

Securing your Network with a VPN

That means that client details, financial statements, proprietary data, and other business-related information are kept away from prying eyes at all times. Staff members can access the facts and figures they need to complete their work and send emails containing sensitive data with complete confidence.

VPNs Make Data Sharing Easy

As well as safe, simple data access for those within your company, VPNs allow you to securely share information with outside parties. When you’re working with clients or other organizations you can grant them access to relevant resources while the VPN keeps all other files encrypted and unreadable.

Data Sharing through a VPN

The VPN is able to do this because it encrypts your entire connection and not just your connection to the company network. That means when files are uploaded to your storage, email, or other networks, they remain encrypted and only the person with the right key (the outside party that you’re sharing the files with) can access and decrypt the data.

VPNs Facilitate Remote Access

Easy remote access to company files and resources has always been important for employees who travel. Now, with so many people working from home amid the international COVID-19 crisis, such access has become essential for businesses to keep functioning.

Remote access requires cloud storage, which many companies are transitioning to anyway because of its vast capacity. Virtual Private Networks allow secure cloud access by connecting to a trusted remote server that hosts the information you need to review. Interruptions to workflow and productivity, whether due to travel, Coronavirus lockdown measures or any other factors, are kept to a minimum.

Secure Cloud Access with VPNs

High-quality VPNs also offer the advantage of being able to facilitate remote access. This ensures that you’re not blocked from certain sites as you travel through countries where internet censorship is in place. You can connect to various locations no matter where you actually are in the world. That way, it will appear that you’re still going online from a place where your chosen sites are allowed.

For instance, if you’re passing through an area that has banned Google products you can connect to a VPN location based in the United States. You’ll be free to use the services and facilities, such as Google Search and Gmail, without any censorship headaches – helping you to further maximize your time management.

Setting Up a VPN for Your Small Business

The only issues regarding Virtual Private Networks are the time and money that can go into setting them up. In the past, they were considered the preserve of large enterprises only because their installation and maintenance were very expensive. However, with the incredible developments of technology in recent years, this is no longer the case.

Often, your current Internet Service Provider (ISP) can easily integrate VPNs into your existing network and provide all the support of a traditional IT department. That keeps setup costs and other demands down, opening the world of VPNs to mid-size and small businesses, as well as entrepreneurs. Each business VPN requires a VPN client, VPN server, and VPN router.

Small Business VPN Setup

The VPN client, or software, is automatically downloaded to your device when you sign up or register for the service. Logging into the software allows your computer, tablet, or smartphone to connect to the servers – usually, there is far more than one server in a network, operated across several continents.

The router encrypts and secures all traffic on your business VPN with built-in software. You can also install additional firmware for an extra layer of VPN support and network-level security protocols. All three components work together to create a strong infrastructure, preventing cyberattacks, keeping your files private, and allowing for unrestricted remote access.

Protecting Your Most Valuable Data Resources

Company and client data, as well as employees’ wellbeing and capacity for productivity, are among the biggest assets to any business; including yours! If your staff can work remotely from abroad or from their own homes during the COVID-19 lockdown efforts and beyond, they won’t lose any time. This should drive up overall productivity and profits.

A New York Times report explains that 47% of the costs of a security breach can be offset by managing risk, training employees, and using encryption. In other words, if all these measures are in place before the breach, the problems it creates will be easier to handle and will cost your organization 53% less than if they were not in place.

No risk management, training, and encryption protocol are completely infallible, but adding a VPN will substantially bolster your online security. Your clients will also feel more confident in your business and it’s impossible to overstate the value of that trust.

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