A Virtual Private Network (VPN) extends a private network across a public network and enables users to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if their computing devices were directly connected to the private network. Wikipedia
If that sounds like typical IT speak and you are still not sure exactly what a VPN is and how it can help you, read on.
The most important benefit you will receive from a VPN is privacy. Related to that is security and anonymity. What that means is that you can “surf the net” without being tracked and without exposing your information to hackers.
In more simple terms, a VPN is a service provided by a company that provides a private connection, either to another computer or to any website. If you travel frequently and want to do your banking or pay bills online, think how much safer you would feel using the hotel’s network if you were sure your identity is not being compromised. It accomplishes this feat by “loaning” you a temporary IP address. A VPN network is also close to being hack-proof since everything you do on the internet is encrypted and unreadable while in transit.
Let me give you an example of when having a VPN would be useful. As in the example above, one of your employees travels for business and stays in a hotel. While there, this employee connects to your network using the hotel’s internet. He also pays some bills, checks his bank account, and uses Zoom to talk with his family. When he checks out the next day the hotel clerk tells him there is a problem with his credit card. His wife says strangers are logging onto their Zoom. At the same time, you are having difficulties logging into your network at the office. You realize you have been hacked. While sitting in his hotel room, the traveling employee unknowingly allowed the nefarious man in the hotel lobby access to all these sites. Had the traveling employee used a VPN on his device, none of this would have occurred. If you still aren’t convinced, here are a few more examples.
There are some drawbacks to using a VPN. Once you download a VPN you may notice your network has slowed down. This is quite normal because the data gets encrypted and then moves through the VPN’s router before getting to the site you selected. To avoid the slowdown or at least reduce the amount, you can choose a VPN provider that uses an ultrafast connection.
There are some VPNs available at no cost, but they are not always the best idea. Generally speaking, you must pay a fee for the majority of VPNs that provide excellent service, low drops in speed, and don’t track your usage.
Finally, not all VPNs work on all devices and some are illegal in certain countries. If you have questions as to whether one will work on your equipment or in a specific country, check with the company selling it.
There are also reasons why you might want to install a VPN on your personal computers in addition to your business ones. Obviously, you do not need to be traveling to be hacked. You do not even have to leave your house. Whenever you are on the internet your computer is at risk for hacking, viruses, or even just being tracked. Staying safe from “spying eyes” can be accomplished through the use of a VPN.
We are experts at IT security including VPNs. We would love to discuss and evaluate your current systems and help you determine the best VPN for your small business.