Online privacy and security have become essential with the rise of internet dependency. Business owners now understand that their private information is exposed to many trackers and third parties. To help ensure their information is secure, many businesses are installing a virtual private network (VPN).
A VPN allows you to create a secure, encrypted private network from a public internet connection. Whether you’re working on a public Wi-Fi network and want to keep your activity anonymous or are concerned about data breaches within your business, installing a VPN client offers numerous safety features, including two-factor authentication and access to password managers. Setting up a VPN can protect your business for years to come.
A VPN provides an additional layer of privacy that allows safe internet access by routing your connection through an encrypted server. This type of connection allows you to use a public network like a Wi-Fi hotspot securely, according to Jon Lucas, co-director of Hyve Managed Hosting.
“The VPN connects to the internet on your behalf so that your private information is not exposed to potential risks or other people watching the network,” Lucas explained. “The destination site sees the VPN as the traffic origin and not the individual user. This means that no one can identify you or your computer as the source of data, which websites you are visiting, or what kinds of information you are sharing.”
For many businesses, VPN connections are crucial for personal data privacy and protection on public networks because they can eliminate bandwidth throttling and provide access to sensitive information without restriction.
Without a VPN, your internet traffic is routed through your internet service provider’s server. This means that if a cybercriminal hacks your account, your information and online activity can be tracked, sold to advertisers or even stolen and used elsewhere.
Installing a secure VPN server begins with identifying the operating system your business uses and then carefully following key steps to ensure the connection is live and stable.
Here are step-by-step instructions for setting up a VPN server for the most common operating systems.
Cybersecurity for remote workers is a top priority today, which makes it more critical than ever to invest in VPNs to ensure data security.
Working remotely requires employees to access sensitive data through potentially unsecured network connections. Using a VPN service for your workforce can help protect your business from these exposed risks and vulnerabilities.
Using a VPN should be a top concern — and practice — for both businesses and individual internet users, especially when using public internet connections such as Wi-Fi at a coffee shop or airport, according to Caleb Chen, founder of The Highest Critic and a marketing consultant for internet privacy services.
“Even if you’re not on a public Wi-Fi network and just using the internet via a LAN cable at your home or office, your internet activity is still being snooped on and sold to third parties,” Chen warned. “This is because internet service providers in the United States successfully lobbied the government to pass a law getting rid of internet privacy protections for internet users in 2017.”
Browsing the web or accessing private company information on an unsecured network means you could inadvertently place yourself and your data at risk by revealing browsing habits and crucial data. Nidhi Joshi, lead project manager at Kernshell, says that using a VPN can do the following:
Cybercriminals are using AI to attack password security. To combat this, some top password managers, such as Dashlane, use a VPN as part of their cybersecurity protections for enhanced security.
While VPNs are essential to internet security, there are four downsides that merit discussion.
With some VPNs, you may notice that your connection speeds are negatively impacted. If the server is far away or has issues, internet performance may be significantly slowed.
Ironically, VPNs can create a false sense of security. For example, if a VPN tunnel is dropped without warning, users can be exposed to security risks without realizing it. This risk can be mitigated with automated connection termination that prevents users from being online if the VPN connection is unavailable.
VPN servers sometimes need maintenance, and the associated downtime can prevent any internet-related work until the VPN service is restored.
Some internet services require IP information to work. A VPN masks this and, as a result, can disrupt the reliability of these services. Location services are the easiest example. If you route your VPN through another city, state or country, any internet-rooted location-based services will be affected and provide incorrect information or adjustments.
When determining which VPN is right for you, consider the needs of your business. There are generally two types of VPNs: client-to-site and site-to-site. Client-to-site refers to single-user connections, while site-to-site refers to remote access connections between entire networks.
When evaluating a VPN, consider the following three questions:
Poor access management is the root of many cyberattacks. Bolster your business’s security by creating an access management policy that allows only verified and authorized users to access data, resources and networks.
Traditionally, there are five VPN protocols. Here’s more about each protocol:
While many routers support VPNs, not all of them do. Check the information packet that came with your router to determine its compatibility. A quick online search of your router’s model name or serial number can also help you determine its built-in VPN features or lack thereof.
As they’ve grown in popularity, VPNs have become easy enough to install without professional help. In a matter of minutes, you can set up your VPN and secure your online activity.
Almost every running process or application drains your device’s battery, and a VPN is no exception. However, VPNs shouldn’t severely impact your device’s battery life since they run as background applications.
No, you can leave your VPN on when it’s not in use. This can help protect your online traffic and network from data leaks at all times.
Here are a few tips to troubleshoot your VPN if you’re having issues with it:
Using a VPN for your business is a matter of enhancing your security and privacy. You can safeguard sensitive data, establish secure connections and digitally protect a remote workforce. No matter which VPN setup you choose, this powerful tool can help your business protect its information from unwanted third parties and attacks.
Shayna Waltower contributed to this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.