The biggest problems facing companies all over the planet while surfing online are privacy, cybersecurity, and the need to protect customer data at all costs. Even if you have nothing to hide, the last thing you need is a competitor and/or hacker accessing your sensitive product and marketing data, and using it to exploit and/or steal from you.
A VPN or “Virtual Private Network” frees you from the trappings of having your IP address isolated, infiltrated, and tracked by hackers, including nosy government agencies. It also allows for you and your employees to have a private and secure network when using public WiFi and mobile data connections. Essentially, VPNs are the modern day firewalls of yesteryear.
How VPN’s work
If you were to ask an IT expert this question, you’d probably get forced into a mind-bending conversation. From a business owner’s perspective, VPNs are very simple to understand. Unless you’re a big government agency with the world’s best and brightest hackers on staff, there’s no way for outside observers to zero in on your public IP address, or the IPs of your devices (which hackers can access after isolating your public IP).
VPNs allow you to connect to a variety of country-specific IPs, hosted on worldwide servers they offer, from any device. Hackers won’t be able to infiltrate your devices and data because they won’t be able to accomplish the first and most important step in hacking, which is to locate your public IP address. The IP is set by your ISP, and while they offer some protection, even a dynamic (constantly changing) IP is still a cakewalk for modern hackers to get past.
Privacy offered by VPNs for business purposes
Once connected to a VPN “John”, who owns “Blue Widgets Interational” out of Delaware will appear to hackers looking to infect his computer with spyware like he’s located in Denmark or Turkey, etc. When John travels to England on business, his VPN might show his connection as being from a city in Alaska or Canada.
Hackers can’t touch your device or data because you’re never actually where your IP says you are. They’re an AES-256 encrypted WAN or “Wide Area Network” where people from anywhere with an Internet connection can connect to and access the Internet, while hiding their true IP identity. Hackers and malware programs can’t zero in on your connection due to this encryption and constant-changing IP and location.
They’re very popular for nefarious purposes like downloading illegal torrents and other content via P2P connections. That’s because of the security they offer, allowing users to hide from virtually anyone outside major government agencies like the FBI, KGB, RCMP, MI-6, etc. Even these organizations will need a really good reason (and likely a warrant for legal purposes) to even attempt tracking your identity and VPN activity due to the complexity, time, and other resources needed to crack VPN encryption.
Company data security problem solved by VPN use
You can’t (easily) be located, isolated, hacked, or tracked when using a VPN. Compared to public WiFi, static and dynamic IPs offered by ISPs, and easily hacked mobile data connections, you’d need to be a business on the scale of Google, Apple, or Amazon for most hackers to be bothered with you on a VPN.
Even the infamous Fappening scandal involving celebs and private nude photos hacked from their Apple iCloud accounts involved CIA-level hacking skills to pull off. Not to mention, on the user end, you still have full functionality of your local security measures, such as firewalls and antivirus/malaware protection programs.
In essence, your data is always secure, and nosy onlookers can’t see what you’re accessing online, including sensitive inter-company and customer emails.
Customer Trust a big reason to adopt a VPN
Customer trust is a big issue for building trust between you and your customers. While they may not hesitate to do business with you because you don’t advertise that you use encrypted connections, they’ll probably think twice if your company is connected to a scandal of some sort that indicates you don’t have your data security game locked down.
Even in the case of the aforementioned Fappening scandal at Apple, it was found that the problem occurred at the phone level. Meaning it was poor security practices on the celeb’s end, not a problem with Apple’s iCloud security — which uses the highest level VPN encryption and cloud technology available to protect its customers. Jennifer Lawrence publicly admitted that prior to the data theft, she blatantly ignored notifications to update her phone.
Apple came out unscathed because they did their job. Chances are, if a data leak happens on your end, hurting you or your customers in some way, it’s going to be your fault and you’ll be subject to the consequences. It’s your job to secure customer data on your end. If you’re dealing with a mobile or browser-based app service, it’s your job to make it very clear to users they should use a VPN to protect data and online activity on their end.
A VPN only protects you if they have the proper infrastructure in place. Make sure they’re using the latest AES-256 encryption technology, which is the latest standard and considered the best. They should also have over 100 IPs available, across multiple countries, to ensure hackers can never zero in on your location.
Last, ensure the provider doesn’t keep logs on your activities, and that they offer an average download and upload speed that’s close to the speed you pay your ISP for.