Even as the UK and other developed nations hover on the precipice of a recession, small and medium-sized businesses remain a significant economic engine across the globe.
In fact, SMEs account for approximately 99.9% of the total business population in the UK alone, while employing 61% of the total private sector workforce.
Currently, SMEs are in the grip of a workforce revolution, as remote and hybrid working models continue to change how employees operate on a daily basis. But does your business require a VPN client to help safeguard your employees and data, or can it cope without one?
What is a VPN?
A VPN describes a ‘virtual private network’, which essentially creates an encrypted connection between your device and a remote server.
It’s through this virtual tunnel that your data and web traffic flows while online, ensuring that this information is presented as a largely indecipherable string of code to hackers, network managers and even Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
By connecting to remote servers in different locations globally (depending on your choice of VPN client, of course), you can also mask your corporeal IP address and physical location.
This helps to protect you from the threat of doxxing and malicious malware attacks, ensuring a much safer experience for users across the board.
The Benefits for SMEs
As a business owner, there are numerous benefits to installing a VPN client company wide. Firstly, this created an additional layer of network security for remote workers, whether they always work from home or share their time between different locations.
The reason for this is simple; as remote workers may occasionally opt for a change of scenery by working at their local library or coffee house. This will require them to connect to an unsecured public network, which is vulnerable to potential hackers and eagle-eyed network managers.
After all, skilled hackers can create rogue access points to such networks, which trick you to connect and subsequently expose all your data (including company sensitive information) and web traffic.
A VPN can protect against this, simply by encrypting your connection and hiding your data and device’s IP address from nefarious individuals.
Similarly, if your business operates in international markets, you may occasionally send sales or senior staff members on overseas trips. However, some geographical locations are known to have content blocks and restrictions pertaining to particular sites, making it hard for employees to work effectively.
By connecting to a remote server in a targeted international location, you can circumnavigate many of these restrictions, affording you complete access to specific websites and social media platforms such as WhatsApp (which are banned in jurisdictions like China).
Choosing the Right VPN for Your Business Needs
Now that the argument for completing a VPN download and installation has been made clear, it’s important to understand what you need to look for in a private client.
We’ve outlined three of the main considerations below, especially as you look to make an informed decision that benefits your venture.
1. Cost vs Value
While cost is a key consideration for SMEs, the cheapest VPN client isn’t always the best. After all, there are free VPN clients available on the market, but these tend to offer limited features and coverage when compared with paid alternatives.
What’s more, some free VPNs may compromise your security, by monitoring and potentially selling your data to third parties as a way of generating revenue.
So, value is also a key consideration when comparing VPN clients, especially as many offer flexible subscription models (with an average price of less than £3 per month).
You’ll therefore need to consider a VPN’s full range of features and the number of server locations that it has access to before completing a download, and we’d recommend making use of a free trial where possible.
2. The Importance of Protocols
Not all paid VPNs have been created equal, either, as each will comprise a different combination of safety protocols that govern how data is treated during use.
Such protocols have a significant impact on the speed of a VPN and its level of security, with options like OpenVPN and WireGuard considered to be amongst the quickest and more effective.
So, be sure to check the protocols that drive specific VPN clients before making your final choice, and make this a key component of your market comparison.
3. Manage Your Expectations
While VPNs create additional layers of network security and privacy for users, you should note that they don’t prevent cookies from tracking you completely online.
Remember, tech giants like Amazon, Google and Facebook can leverage cookies to track Internet usage and even pinpoint your physical location, and no VPN client has the capacity to maintain optimal privacy when online.
By recognising this you can manage your expectations accordingly, and ensure that you don’t overlook the ideal client for your business because of an unrealistic vision of what VPNs can do!