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How VPNs Solve Security Issues For SMEs

October 10, 2017 No Comments

Featured article by Gary Stevens, IT Analyst

Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs for short, used to be associated with hackers running credit card fraud schemes. In recent years, though, they’ve become hugely popular for more legitimate purposes.

A lot of people use them to get around country-specific limitations on TV shows and movies, such as those put in place by Netflix and other media companies. More seriously, a lot of political activists use them to circumvent restrictions put in place by their own governments.

On the surface, it may not sound like you need a VPN for your SME. You probably don’t care if the government is monitoring your activity, and your staff never (yeh, right) download movies on their work computers.

The truth, though, is that many SMEs are now using VPNs, because they bring real benefits. Accordingly, companies offering VPNs have sprung up all over the world, from Turkey to Uzbekistan.

The benefits of using a VPN for SMEs can be summed up neatly: they provide an extra level of security and encryption, they increase productivity for employees, improve client trust, and cost next to nothing.

Let’s take a look in more detail.

1. Increased Security

I don’t mean to make you depressed, but think for a moment about how much you’ve spent on bespoke security software over the past few years. Security software like that offered by McAfee, Avast, Symantec, or similar still lets attackers through every month, and yet these solutions still claim to be almost 100% secure.

A VPN works in a different way. By providing anonymity, a VPN hides the origin and source of any sensitive information you are sending or sharing online, and so attackers cannot target your company. In addition, the data sent over VPNs is encrypted, so that if anyone does get hold of it, they will not be able to do anything with it.

Best of all, by using a VPN you are likely to be more compliant with your local and international laws on storing and sending data, at a fraction of the cost of more “traditional” security solutions.

2. Faster, More Secure Remote Access

If your employees often work from abroad, or even the next city, a VPN is a great way of providing secure remote access to your company’s systems. The anonymity provided by VPNs, coupled with the extra encryption, means that you need not fear that data will be intercepted.

In addition, by going through a VPN you can get around ISP throttling, which can sometimes limit the speed of remote data sharing.

3. Increased Productivity

It may sound strange that a VPN can enhance your employee’s productivity, but it can. Depending on the territory in which you are based, or the places where your employees need to work, there can be significant restrictions in place on what you and they can access.

Companies who do a lot of work in China, for instance, use VPNs as a matter of course. The restrictions in China are pretty severe, and mean that a VPN is required to access many “standard” websites like Facebook and Amazon.

You might not want your employees to be cruising Amazon on their work time, of course, but allowing them full access to the internet is ultimately about increasing their productivity. By removing the need for complicated work-arounds to access information, including that stored on your own systems, VPNs can end up saving you and your employees a lot of time.

4. Increased Trust

Nowadays, a lot of clients value security. If you deal with other businesses, it is likely that they are just as worried about online data theft as you are, and will therefore feel more comfortable sharing information with you over a VPN.

In fact, using a VPN can be turned into a selling point for your SME, because you can point out to potential customers and clients that any data they share is encrypted and totally secure. Given the low cost of using a VPN, it is almost worth doing so just for this reason!

5. Low Cost

All of these benefits, of course, can be had in other ways. Up until a few years ago, though, building secure systems for data storage and sharing came at a high price. Not only did companies have to invest in bespoke encryption software, but also had to pay for expensive consultations with security experts.

Nowadays, a secure system is a lot cheaper. VPNs typically cost only a fraction of “traditional” security solutions, and offer the same level of protection.

Gary Stevens is an IT analyst working the DC area. He’s a part time blogger and blockchain enthusiast.

SECURITY

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