In these days of data breaches, corporate espionage, mass surveillance, and identity theft, businesses have an obligation to protect themselves and their customers—and a Virtual Private Network (VPN) can help. But how? Technology moves fast and the network security industry is filled with buzzwords and jargon, so getting to the facts can be daunting. That’s where we come in.
A VPN is an encrypted connection between your device and the Wild West of the internet. Think of it as a network within a network that allows individuals and organizations to browse the internet in secrecy. The VPN service encrypts all data sent and received and routes it through a VPN server in a location of the user’s choosing. It prevents anyone from seeing the content of that web traffic while also disguising that traffic’s origin and destination.
Whole homes and offices are wired with smart refrigerators, water meters, and even doorbells. That means ISPs know a whole lot about everybody. They gather 100% of web browsing activity and may sell it to third parties. So, even your office’s “secured,” private Wi-Fi network is not so private. A private network anonymizes your web traffic and browsing history by masking your computer’s IP address. It hides this digital fingerprint from your Internet Service Provider (ISP), the government, hackers, and possibly your competitors.
The business environment is evolving, and mobility is mainstream. Remote workers now do their jobs by logging onto hotspots and public Wi-Fi connections in coffee shops, airports, and libraries the world over. That freedom is a double-edged sword. Consider the amount of sensitive data, passwords, and proprietary information that moves back and forth on a private network connection during a typical business day. Now, think about all that content potentially open for all the world to see. A remote worker going about her day at a café is like having a sensitive meeting in the middle of a food court at a mall. A VPN solves that problem.
Virtual networks even prevent the owners of a network from spying on your connection since all the transferred data is encapsulated. It’s common to assume that public AIRPORT_FREE_WiFi connection is safe. But it could be an Evil Twin, a fraudulent Wi-Fi hotspot that appears to be legitimate but was set up by a hacker to intercept the passwords of unsecured users. Criminals know that most people tend to use the same password for everything, so someone checking their email or Facebook on an open connection just potentially lost their banking login to a thief. Having a VPN will anonymize your activity and mask the IP address you are using, keeping your valuable information safe.
If you are downloading and transferring large files regularly, you may have noticed those downloads seem to take longer at the end of the month. Occasionally, some ISPs and governments slow down bandwidth from websites or apps they consider inappropriate or illegal, or to preemptively enforce bandwidth caps, even those with “unlimited” plans. A 2015 study found that five of the largest internet service providers, representing 75% of all households in the US throttled their users’ data. Now, it’s important to note that data caps and speed throttling are not the same things. A VPN cannot get around caps, however, many VPN providers compress the data before sending it, saving bandwidth. Some can even block ads or other unwanted traffic, further saving precious data.
The FBI’s 2016 Internet Crime Report showed 298,728 complaints with losses over $1.3 billion. VPN services are the easiest, most cost-effective way to increase your Wi-Fi security level and protect any business. Private networks not only lock down your data and deliver peace of mind but they also may protect your business’s financial future.