No fake news here. Countless times in the last year we’ve heard and read news about data breaches happening to global corporations and let’s not forget Facebook. That means that anyone who uses these services or platforms are always at risk of having their data stolen.
Recently, many people have been turning to the use of VPNs. However, some do this without enough research. Because some companies — VPNs — that they turn to provide protection are the very people that are collecting your data and then selling it to third parties.
Everybody needs at least one layer of online protection, especially small businesses and startups. It’s encouraged that these businesses have security in place so that some sort of breach doesn’t happen and then bring their business to a standstill. Most companies today are collecting at least some client information, so you want to be sure that you’re using a VPN that’s reputable and that you can trust. By doing this, whether you’re launching your new venture from dedicated office space or the corner booth in your favourite coffee shop, you can be sure that your information and your client’s information are safe.
Before we get into what to look for in a VPN, let me list a few good options for those looking for a quick answer. You can check out ExpressVPN, IPVanish, and its potentially worth looking at the insights on NordVPN.
Check the AV-TEST VPN Reports
One excellent way to check the trustworthiness of a VPN you may be considering is to check the reports and third-party testing done by organisations like AV-TEST. As you’ll find out, you can’t always determine the trustworthiness of a product from their marketing.
You may have to do some investigation to find out how transparent the provider is. Are they upfront about what they will do if there is some official request to see your data? Who sits on the provider’s board of directors? Who makes up their management staff? Who were their investors? What about their contact information? Do you know where they are physically located and have an address for them?
Know the Location
It may seem as though the physical location of a VPN provider’s headquarters is irrelevant, when in fact, this is critical information. What could ultimately happen to your data is determined by the location of the provider, and the country laws of that location? If there are regulations and legislation in place, a provider may be forced to comply with those restrictions and share data they have collected about you and your business. So knowing the physical location of your VPN provider as well as knowing what the laws of that country are can be critical to your startup or small business.
The same can be said for doing some investigation around the company’s investors and its Board of Directors. The interests and actions of the provider will be guided by these people and companies, and their wishes will always come before yours.
What Features Should Your VPN Have?
Ideally, you want your VPN to be three things. It should be easy to use, secure and fast. Clearly, as a business owner, you’re going to need a tool or service that you can meet your needs today, and continue to meet your needs. If and when your business scales up.
So you need to find out the answers to questions like can the VPN handle multiple users? Chances are unless you’re a one person organisation, there are going to be people other than yourself, who need to be able to use the program at the same time. You don’t want one person logging into the VPN and kicking out someone else’s access, leaving them unaware that whatever work they’re doing online at that moment is now unsecured. Again, be sure to choose a VPN that can scale up in step with your new business.
It Should Keep Your Data Secure
Make sure that the new VPN you are choosing, can keep your data and your network secure. Depending on a VPN provider, there are several types of security protocols offered. Some offer IP security — this is also known as IPsec, some offer L2TP, which is a two tunnelling protocol, there’s also SSL or secure sockets layer, and TLS which is transport layer security.
Finally, there is PPTP, which is a point-to-point tunnelling protocol. All of those letters and protocols may not mean anything to you, but it’s typically a good idea to choose a VPN that layers several of these different protocols together. This ultimately means greater security for you.
Subscribe for entrepreneurial & small business advice
Subscribe to our newsletter for advice and insights on starting, managing and growing a small business in the UK.
Lastly, make sure your VPN provides you with secure remote access. These days, more and more people are working away from a dedicated office. They’re either working from home or in some other convenient remote location. So it’s essential that no matter where you or your staff are working, they can access information securely. A good VPN will provide this security.