Think a VPN is only for gamers? Think again! Remote work has become the norm for many entrepreneurs and small business owners, and while instant messaging, video conferencing and emails are vital to workload efficiency, have you considered your website security?
Whether you’re a team of two, or a team of ten, multiple devices accessing sensitive information from various locations can lead to security weaknesses. A virtual private network, or VPN, is an ideal layer of added security for small business owners who manage information across multiple devices and locations.
If you’re not sure that the added layer of security is warranted, consider the state of cybersecurity in South Africa at the moment. According to a 2020 Accenture report, South Africa has the third highest number of cybercrime victims worldwide who as a whole lose R2.2 billion a year.
Benefits of VPN for business use
Enhanced data security
Through the use of end-to-end encryption, data that is shared from one device to another becomes untraceable and unreadable to anyone that may intercept it. Sensitive information is easily found by hackers if you are connected to a weak network, for example free Wi-Fi at an airport or restaurant, and with a VPN, all information you share internally or externally with travel via an encrypted tunnel.
Secure access to shared business files
VPNs give users control over who has access to business information on a company network. Whether your employees are travelling or just work in a different location to you, you can ensure that only they have access to your company’s network of documents, folders, emails, software and tools.
A VPN hides its user’s IP address to provide complete browsing anonymity. While this is particularly useful for users accessing geo-blocked content on the likes of Netflix, it also proves highly useful in preventing data breaches. Having a hidden IP address makes it impossible for hackers to trace information back to you and gain access to it.
Prevents bandwidth throttling
If you’re on a capped data plan, a VPN can actually improve your internet speed and provide you with a robust internet connection for those all important virtual business meetings and team catch ups. By masking your IP address, your internet service provider (ISP) is unable to detect that you are using a high amount of bandwidth and will not throttle your connection.
Low setup and maintenance costs
Despite the many free VPNs available, they are unreliable and most often than not sell users’ data to unknown third parties. Luckily, paid VPNs are affordable to SMEs. Purchasing and maintaining a VPN subscription is affordable and does not require costly upgrades. Additionally, you can connect multiple devices to one account with no contract required.
How to setup a VPN
Setting up your VPN is a relatively simple process, and involves a few basic steps:
- Download the VPN software available to you via your VPN provider
- Add your username and password for security
- Connect via your device’s connectivity settings
Read more: VPN setup for specific operating systems
Client and company data are invaluable assets whose protection shouldn’t be taken lightly. As more and more businesses take their processes online, VPNs have become a popular option to increase data security. They’re easy to install, easy to maintain and are a low cost for established businesses, entrepreneurs and startups alike.