What is a VPN and does my business really need one?
If you are not concerned about other people seeing and accessing anything you do, then a VPN is probably not for you. If you are concerned, then it should be something to look at. (have you even looked at GDPR yet?)
A VPN or Virtual Private Network is a secure encrypted tunnel between your device and another location. imagine trying to cross from Dover to Calais with the most valuable piece of information you have, normally you would board the ferry, wait until you get to the other side to find a pickpocket has taken everything you have and left with your car just for the hell of it.
A VPN is more like the Eurostar, while you are sat on the train in a protected tunnel the pickpockets are on the ferry above and cannot get to you, even if they somehow managed to scuba down and drill into the tunnel, then get onto the train, your information is encrypted, so to them it looks like gibberish, your information reaches its destination intact and untouched.
When it comes to business everything has a value, to a hacker, your data has a value, your customer's information is saleable especially if you store payment details, the best trick is to make it more effort to access the data than the data is worth.
One of the most common examples of needing a VPN is the use of “free Wi-Fi” while out of the office when you connect to a free Wi-Fi without a VPN, there could be someone on the same network that is viewing everything you are doing, hence the advice to never do any banking over “free Wi-Fi”. With a VPN the effort required to break your connection becomes huge, and chances are you would never be there at the time it would take to break an outer layer of security.
With the introduction of GDPR this year, the need to keep customers information safe is now paramount, a VPN is one of the best ways to secure and encrypt your internet connection while inside the office and out.
We looked at several providers for VPN services and came up with a shortlist of things to look for:
- Minimum of 5 simultaneous connections, ensuring that all of our devices are protected while in and out of the office.
- Encryption, most providers are using the most up to date 256-bit AES encryption
- No traffic or speed restrictions. Some of the smaller providers will limit the speed or amount of traffic you can put through their servers.
- Most will offer a money-back guarantee for a while and a few will offer a free trial as well.
- No logging, meaning the VPN provider does not keep a log of what information is sent.
Some of the providers that we would recommend looking at are:
While the use of a VPN has many advantages, there are a few instances where a VPN might not be the best solution and we would not recommend using one. We can help you decide on the best solution for your business, Speak to our IT Team for advice.
If your internet connection is very slow, sadly a VPN connection does slow things down a little bit, so if you already have a slow connection this could get worse, maybe look at a provider that has a free trial before committing.
We concluded that with the introduction of GDPR a VPN is one of the only ways of protecting our internet traffic. We would recommend all businesses use a VPN where possible and practical, just remember the important things, make sure your devices are supported by the provider, choose a connection speed suitable for your needs, oh and if the snooping laws are something that bothers you make sure to choose a service provider with an appropriate location.