There’s no doubt that cybercrime is a concern for businesses in South Africa. As the country with the third-highest number of cybercrime victims, SMEs with limited security resources should invest in all the website security basics from SSL certificates to anti-malware software. 


What many SMEs don’t consider, are VPNs. A Virtual Private Network, while being inexpensive software, provides an added layer of online security and privacy that allows business owners and their teams to work across multiple locations and devices.


Gone are the days where VPNs were only used for gamers who required online anonymity to secure a seamless experience. Today, VPNs are an extremely useful piece of tech that can help SMEs navigate the remote workspace while providing optimum security for their data.


Here are the top five reasons why you should consider using a VPN:



1. Added security on a public Wi-Fi network


While international travel may be limited at the moment, local travel has most definitely opened up. From spending time in our local airports to staying in BnB’s and hotels, there is ample opportunity to connect to public Wi-Fi networks that are useful not necessarily very secure. As public Wi-Fi is free and so easy to connect to, it’s very easy for fraudsters to jump on and locate you.


As VPNs hide your IP address and encrypt your sensitive information, no hacker lurking nearby will be able to access your data even if they manage to find it on a public network.



2. Privacy while using apps and social platforms


Despite the PoPI Act being in full effect and privacy laws more stringent, many of us still don’t read the terms and conditions when downloading a new app or signing up to a new social media platform. If a platform asks your permission to use your data, and you’ve accepted the terms then you can’t be upset if you get remarked to by the app or its partner network.


As VPNs mask your IP address, apps and websites are unable to follow your movement online and ultimately won’t be able to collect your browsing history in order to remarket to you or target you with their ad campaigns.



3. Security across remote locations and devices


VPNs are not fixed software that only protects the one device it was originally bought for. This software can be used across multiple locations and devices, to secure and encrypt data on as many devices as you need. 


While every VPN provider has slightly different packages, generally you are able to secure a high number of devices across all major countries. Whether you have a team of five, or fifty, a VPN is a must if you manage your business from home, where you can secure data no matter your employees’ locations.



4. Extra security for online banking


Online and in-app banking has made personal and business transactions so much easier. Whether you’re on the road, in the office or at a hotel, you can manage your finances on the go, 24/7. The downside to this is that this highly sensitive information can easily be intercepted on a public network.


In 2019, Mobile banking app fraud increased by 100&, according to Accenture’s 2020 Cyber Security report. By making use of a VPN, you can rest assured that your sensitive data that is available via your banking app is hidden and only visible to you, no matter which network you are using. 



5. Extra anonymity for online browsing


On top of all of the above, VPNs are also useful for online browsers and shoppers. Because websites can track your behaviour online, they can change deals and prices (for the worse) if they see that you’ve returned to their web page after your initial visit. By using a VPN, your IP address can’t be tracked and all the prices and deals you originally found during your research phase stay the same!


So before you head off on your next flight for business, increase your team of remote workers or spend the day at co-working space, a VPN will give you all the added security and browsing safety you and your business need. 


Read more: How to choose a reliable VPN in 2021