There’s no doubt that VPNs are popular among individuals. They’re good for protecting privacy, accessing restricted content, improving connectivity speeds, and more.
But did you know that they can also be beneficial to small businesses? In fact, more than 400 million consumers and businesses globally subscribe to a VPN solution.
Is your small business falling behind? Do you really need a business VPN?
In this post, we show you exactly what is a business VPN and why using one for your small business is a smart move.
What is a Business VPN?
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network.
For a business, its primary purpose is to create a protected ‘virtual tunnel’ between your employee’s devices and the company network and internet.
The VPN secures and encrypts company data travelling through this tunnel, such as emails and internet banking activity. It travels in secret where it is safeguarded from the prying eyes of hackers looking to perpetrate a myriad of malicious attacks, such as ransomware.
Internally, the VPN can work as an extension of your existing network, giving powerful business continuity and productivity enhancements for remote work and data sharing.
While we could go more in-depth, all you need to know is that it allows your employees to access the company network and internet with greater protection and efficiency.
Here’s Why Your Small Business Needs a VPN
Now that you know what a VPN is, let’s look at four reasons why your business needs one:
(1) Added Cybersecurity
The internet is a dangerous place. You risk being hacked or running across viruses or malware that can infect your device and spread across your network. Now, multiply this risk by the number of internet-connected devices in your company. Every computer, tablet, smartphone, and server is a potential gateway for a cybersecurity disaster.
In 2018, over 50% of cyberattack victims were small businesses. Just because you are a small business doesn’t mean you are safe from hackers. In fact, you may be a more desirable target. Hackers are betting on your smaller presence and the chance that you don’t have modern cybersecurity measures in place.
That said, refusing your employees internet access is not the answer. Your small business needs the internet to:
- Share important documents
- Communicate with staff, customers, and suppliers
- Manage finances and transactions via internet banking
- Use online business applications, such as Google Drive or MS Teams
So, instead of unplugging, you just need to up your cybersecurity. A VPN is one of the easiest ways because it:
- Secures the messages and documents you send internally and externally
- Prevents unauthorized users from accessing restricted devices
- Provides extra protection to online transactions
Likewise, a VPN also protects against risks associated with remote work. Whether employees access your network through a mobile device or free public Wi-Fi, you can rest assured knowing your company data is secure from a data breach.
(2) Easy Access for Remote Work
Every office has an internal company network that consists of computers, printers, software applications, IT resources, and the like. Your employees use this network to communicate, share files, and work on server-side applications like Pastel and Office 365.
Employees can easily connect to your network when in the office – it’s as simple as entering the Wi-Fi password or plugging in an Ethernet cable. But it’s not as simple when working remotely.
Today, remote work is more popular than ever in South Africa. Employees are working from home due to COVID lockdown restrictions, load shedding at the office, or they might be travelling locally or internationally on a business trip.
With a business VPN, you can ensure remote employees have reliable and seamless access to your company network. They can access and share documents on company folders, send and receive emails, work on internal server software like Pastel, and complete tasks as they normally would in the office.
(3) Overcomes Geographic Restrictions
Individuals often use VPNs to access controlled content and online services. When it comes to maintaining business continuity when employees are on the move, VPNs offer the same opportunity.
For example, you have an employee traveling through China on a business trip. They need to access Gmail, G Suite, and Google Drive to complete their work, but China blocks Google services entirely.
If you have a VPN, this won’t be a problem. The VPN allows your employee to use a different IP address, giving secure access to essential websites and services that are normally censored in countries like China, Russia, Belarus, and Iran.
(4) Boost Internet Performance
Troubled with poor internet connectivity that disrupts employee productivity and ultimately cuts into your bottom line? No surprise.
As of 2020, South Africa ranks 97th for average internet speed by country – falling short of the global average by 175%.
A business VPN won’t change your max internet speed on its own, but it will prevent throttling reduction by your internet service provider (ISP). Many ISPs intentionally cut internet speeds (termed ‘throttling’) during peak business hours when there’s a heavy surge in traffic. This problem is generally worse for small businesses in high-density urban areas.
The harms of slow internet also extend to customer relationships and communication channels. VoIP, virtual conferencing, Zoom, Skype, MS Teams, etc., will all be affected by poor quality, lag, and in severe cases, speeds that prevent using these technologies entirely.
Using a VPN is an instant solution to the woes of throttling. It will enable your employees to get their work done fast and communicate seamlessly without frustrating restrictions.
Choosing the Right VPN Provider
By now, you should be convinced of the benefits of a VPN for your small business. But when it comes to choosing a VPN provider, it’s easy for the non-tech savvy business owner to feel a little overwhelmed.
In simple terms, here’s three primary things to look out for:
- Server Location. Does your VPN provider have multiple web servers in South Africa? Geographic distance plays a pivotal role in speed, efficacy, and uptime when using a VPN. Ideally, the provider should have servers located in the closet major city to your head office.
- Personal VPN vs Business VPN. Although they share underlying technology, Personal VPNs fall short when it comes to cybersecurity and integrating with your company network. Ensure the VPN service is purpose-made for businesses, and not just a Personal VPN installed on devices individually.
- Access Control with Monitoring. You don’t want employees wasting hours on Facebook, downloading malware-laden torrent files, or visiting shady websites on the company network. Choosing a VPN provider that lets you centrally manage and monitor all devices and network activity is a must for both cybersecurity and employee productivity.
We’re Here to Help
Not sure where to start with a business VPN?
iSite Computers has been in the business since 2008, helping small to medium-sized businesses in South Africa with fully managed IT and business VPN solutions. We help our clients with identifying, implementing, and managing the right VPN for their business needs.
To get started with a business VPN, contact us today for a free analysis and consult of your network environment. Give us a call on 031 812 9650. Or schedule a free consultation and we’ll call you back.