When you are working off-site or travelling for work, you have many options for connecting to the internet. You can walk down to your local coffee shop, work at a bench just outside your library, or do business from an airport lounge, all while connecting to free Wi-Fi. But have you ever wondered about the security of those internet connections?
As a small business owner, there are many cybersecurity concerns that come up when you or your employees connect to free Wi-Fi networks.
One of the issues with internet security is inherent in how it was built. The internet was designed to send packets of data as reliably as possible, and most of the core communication protocols prioritized routing around failure over prioritizing data security. Every app you use (email, social media, website) is built on that original IP system. VPN gives you a tool for creating and maintaining privacy on a system that was not designed with users’ privacy in mind.
What’s the risk?
There are a plethora of hacks, bugs, and bots that can wreak havoc on your device and compromise your security. Unsecured internet sites are some of the easiest to hack into. Malicious bots can intercept data between two sources without either source being aware that their information is being viewed. Illegitimate Wi-Fi sites can be set up to mimic the name of a nearby business or tourist attraction, making it incredibly easy for hackers to steal your information once you connect to “StarbucksOn5th”, for example.
The kind of information that can be accessed from your unsecure Wi-Fi connection can include: your location, websites you visit, emails and chat messages you open, files and photos you send, passwords and logins, etc. But even with all these known risks, users continue to connect to public Wi-Fi because it is convenient. A McAfee poll found that 38% of people use unsecured Wi-Fi. You need to make sure that you and your employees don’t fall into that camp when working remotely.
One of the safest measures to take is to use VPNs, or virtual private networks, to protect your data and your employees’ privacy while working remotely. A VPN is an encryption system that connects you to a remote server. Think of it as a private highway between your data and your server, one that protects your data and keeps it safe by making it look like your computer has the IP address of the server you are connected to. This helps to mask your identity, location, and data.
There are many options for service providers that can protect your business data and transactions through VPNs. It can get overwhelming combing through the wide variety of VPN providers. Here are some things to consider when selecting a VPN system.
You want to choose a VPN company that is transparent about their privacy policies. Some VPN’s can be accessed for free, but those companies are likely paying their costs through advertising or selling data.
Another thing to be aware of is that some VPNs keep logs of information transmitted through their network. If privacy is one of your biggest concerns, you’ll need to choose a VPN company that preferably does not log your information at all, or at least purges those logs regularly.
Multi Factor Authentication
You also need to think about security measures when logging into your VPN. If a hacker is able to log in to your VPN, then they have access to everything you do and the VPN won’t protect your information. That defeats the purpose of having a VPN in the first place. Choose a VPN with multi factor authentication to ensure your safety when signing in to your account.
Some VPNs are set up with a “kill switch” that will quit preselected programs if your internet connection becomes unstable or drops altogether. This is an added layer of protection that ensures that your data won’t be captured during a period of internet instability.
Obviously your bottom-line is going to be a factor whenever you consider a new technology. Luckily, setting up VPN doesn’t have to be expensive. Most systems cost between $3 and $10 a month, which is well worth it when it comes to keeping your business data secure.
VPNs are a cost-effective way and practical way to guarantee secure connections, whether you are working from home or in a situation where you have no option but to log in to someone else’s Wi-Fi. Whether you travel frequently or want to give your staff the benefit of more options to work remotely, a VPN connection will keep your data secure.
Researching VPNs can be an overwhelming and time-consuming process. Tech Masters is here to help you select and set up a VPN with ease.
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