You might have heard the term VPN before. It stands for the virtual private network. But just what is a VPN, and is it worth it for you to get one for your business?
We’ll answer both questions in this article, and in doing so, give you a bit of a cybersecurity crash course.
What is a VPN?
Both large and small businesses must know about cybersecurity and how vital it is. Cybersecurity:
- Protects your company’s virtual network so that hackers can’t break into it
- Shows your clients and would-be clients that you care about and protect the sensitive information they give you
A VPN is a cybersecurity element that you can’t afford to do without. Think of your business’s computer system like a public network, the same as you might log onto in a Starbucks while you’re waiting for your coffee. Anyone can log onto it quite easily.
A VPN is like a private network that extends over your business’s public one. Once you put it in place, your users, which are your workers, can now receive and send data across public or shared networks. When they do, it will be as though they had connected their computers directly to the private network you set up.
In other words, a Virtual Private Network drapes your business’s computer network in an additional security blanket of sorts. Your employees will have total privacy when they send each other and your client’s messages, and vice versa.
Why does this matter so much?
As for why your employees and clients need that privacy, it becomes apparent when you think about it. There might be all kinds of sensitive information that goes back and forth on your company’s computer network during any given day. For instance:
- Bank account information might be flying around that network
- There might be news about taking the company public about which you only want to select individuals to know
A business VPN, which is the kind that you’d get for your company, is a particular kind of virtual private network. There are several great ones available now, so you’ll need to carefully look at their different features when you’re ready to select one.
With a business VPN, your business’s devices get end-to-end encryption for their internet connections. That means your employees can expect a completely secure internet connection regardless of their physical location when they log onto your network.
At a time when working from home is so commonplace, having that capability does matter. Your workers can log on from home, and they will know that they are only exchanging encrypted data. It is now safe from hackers, fake Wi-Fi settings, advertisers, competitors, and even governments.
Can’t I just use cybersecurity software instead?
It’s true that you can forego a VPN and just get yourself a firewall and some anti-hacker software. That’s an imperfect solution, though, without the extra protection a business VPN gives you.
Antivirus protection and firewalls are not foolproof, not when you have a determined hacker that knows how to bypass them. Antivirus programs can struggle with new worms and malware that hackers create.
Also, you have to keep them updated. If you don’t, then they become vulnerable, and hackers trying to steal sensitive data are always watching for this sort of back door.
The difference with business VPNs is that end-to-end encryption. Like blockchain, it’s almost impossible for hackers to get past. That’s why, when you install a business VPN, your trade secrets, internal communication, client communication, etc. will be one hundred percent safe.
Sharing with those outside the organization
The other aspect to keep in mind, though, as you’re mulling over whether to get a business VPN, is that if you don’t have one, then you can’t feel entirely safe sending sensitive data via emails to other colleagues outside your network.
A Virtual Private Network encloses your entire network, and that extends beyond just your remote workers on their laptops. It also extends to others outside your network with whom they might choose to communicate.
When they upload files and send them as email attachments, you’ll know that they’re getting to their destinations without anyone intercepting them along the way. Only people with the encryption key can open them. To anyone else, they’ll be useless.
As you learn more about business VPNs, you’ll see why you want to leave room in your operating budget for one. They can be a little pricey, but don’t worry: they’re a tax write-off.