If you’re a small business owner searching for a reliable and secure solution to access your network, then VPN services are what you need. Nowadays, cyber threats are increasing, and it’s crucial to safeguard your data and network access from potential attacks. In this article, we’ll explore the best business VPNs for small businesses in more detail and answer common questions like “what is a business vpn?” and “how to setup vpn for small office”. So if you’re ready to take your network security to the next level, keep reading!
Why Do Small Businesses Need a VPN?
Small businesses are at a higher risk of cyber attacks compared to larger businesses due to their limited resources and expertise in cybersecurity. The risk of data breaches is also increased when remote workers access company data. Therefore, small businesses must protect themselves against hackers and malware just like larger businesses. Understanding the importance of a VPN for small businesses and how it can help maintain online security is therefore very important.
Remote Workers Accessing Company Data Can Increase the Risk of Data Breaches
With the rise of remote work, many small businesses have had to adapt quickly to new ways of working. However, remote work also brings new challenges in terms of cybersecurity. When employees access company data from outside the office network, they may be using unsecured Wi-Fi networks or other insecure connections that could leave them vulnerable to cyber attacks.
A VPN can provide an added layer of security for small businesses by encrypting all data transmitted between remote workers and company servers. This means that even if hackers intercept the data being transmitted, they will not be able to read it without first decrypting it.
Protection Against Hackers and Malware
Hackers and malware also pose a significant threat to small businesses. Cybercriminals may target small businesses specifically because they believe that these companies are less likely to have robust cybersecurity measures in place.
A VPN can help protect small businesses against these threats by providing a secure connection between employees and company servers. The encryption provided by a VPN makes it much harder for hackers to intercept sensitive information or install malware on company devices.
Maintain the Privacy of Online Business Activities
Privacy is an important concern for every individual and organization alike. Small business owners may be concerned about protecting their own personal information as well as that of their customers or clients.
A VPN can help maintain privacy by masking the IP address of the user and encrypting all data transmitted over the internet. This means that even if someone is monitoring online activity, they will not be able to see what websites are being visited or what data is being transmitted.
How to Setup a VPN for Small Office : Setting Up Your VPN Network
Install Necessary Software on Each Device
Once you’ve chosen a VPN service provider, the next step is to install the necessary software on each device that will be used to connect to the VPN. Most VPN providers offer software that can be downloaded and installed on devices running Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android operating systems. The installation process usually involves downloading an executable file from the service provider’s website and running it on your operating system.
Once the installation is complete, you will need to enter your login credentials (username and password) provided by your VPN service provider. After logging in, select a server location (closest to your physical location) and click connect.
Configure Router or Firewall Settings
In order for a device to connect to a VPN network, router or firewall settings must be configured appropriately. The exact configuration process may differ depending on the type of router or firewall you are using.
Typically, this involves setting up port forwarding rules for certain ports used by your VPN service provider as well as enabling virtual private networking protocols such as PPTP (point-to-point tunneling protocol), L2TP/IPSec (layer 2 tunneling protocol with Internet protocol security), or OpenVPN (open source virtual private network). Consult with your internet service provider or IT technician if you need assistance with configuring router or firewall settings.
Test Your Connection
Once you have installed software and configured router/firewall settings for secure connections through your chosen VPN service provider’s servers, it is important to test your connection before using it regularly. Testing can reveal potential issues with connection speed and latency which can negatively affect productivity in a small office environment. To test your connection:
1. Connect all devices to the same server location 2. Use an online speed test tool such as Speedtest.net or TestMy.net
3. Note the upload and download speeds, as well as ping time 4. Repeat the test several times to ensure consistency
5. Compare your results with your office’s regular internet connection If you experience slow connection speeds or high latency, try connecting to a different server location or contact your VPN service provider for assistance.
Maintaining Your VPN Network
Regularly update your software and security protocols
One of the most important aspects of maintaining a secure VPN network is regularly updating your software and security protocols.
This includes updating the VPN client software on your devices, as well as any firewalls or other security systems that are in place. Ensuring that all software is up-to-date will help protect you from potential security breaches and other threats.
In addition to keeping your software updated, it’s important to regularly review and update your security protocols. This includes things like encryption standards, password policies, and access controls.
For example, you may want to consider implementing two-factor authentication for all employees accessing the VPN network or instituting a policy that requires regular password changes.
Monitor network traffic for any unusual activity
Another important aspect of maintaining a secure VPN network is monitoring network traffic for any unusual activity. This can include things like unauthorized access attempts, unusual patterns of data flow, or unexpected changes to system settings or configurations.
By monitoring network traffic on a regular basis, you can quickly identify potential threats before they can cause significant damage. There are many tools available that can help you monitor network traffic effectively.
Some popular options include intrusion detection systems (IDS), which can flag suspicious activity automatically, and log analysis tools that allow you to review activity logs in real-time. You may also want to consider investing in a managed detection and response (MDR) service provider who can monitor your network on your behalf and provide proactive threat hunting services.
Train employees on how to use the VPN network safely and securely
It’s crucial that all employees using the VPN network understand how to use it safely and securely.
This includes things like knowing what types of information should be transmitted over the VPN versus an unsecured public Wi-Fi network, understanding how to identify potential security threats or phishing attempts, and knowing how to report any suspicious activity. To ensure that all employees are properly trained on VPN usage, consider developing a comprehensive training program that covers all aspects of secure network usage.
This may include hands-on training sessions, online courses and webinars, and regular performance reviews to ensure that all employees are following established protocols and best practices. By investing in employee education and training, you can help create a culture of security awareness that will protect your small office network now and in the future.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a VPN for Small Business
There are several factors that you need to consider when choosing a VPN service.
Key Features to Look for in a VPN Service
One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a VPN service is the features that it offers. Here are some of the key features that you should look for:
- Encryption: The VPN service should use strong encryption protocols such as AES-256 bit encryption to ensure that your data is secure.
- No-logs policy: The VPN should have a strict no-logs policy, which means that it does not keep any records of your online activity.
- Kill switch: A kill switch is an important feature that automatically disconnects your internet connection if the VPN connection drops.
- Multi-platform support: The VPN should be compatible with multiple platforms including Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android.
Two-Factor Authentication is an Important Factor
Two-factor authentication (2FA) is another important factor to consider when choosing a VPN service. 2FA adds an extra layer of security by requiring users to provide two forms of identification before accessing their account. This can include something like a password and a fingerprint scan or facial recognition.
Subfactors to Consider Such as Server Locations and Bandwidth Limits
In addition to these key features, there are also subfactors that you should consider when selecting a VPN service. These include:
- Server locations: The number and location of servers can impact the speed and reliability of your connection. Choose a provider with servers located in areas relevant to your business needs.
- Bandwidth limits: Some providers may limit bandwidth usage, which can impact the speed and quality of your connection. Make sure to choose a provider that offers unlimited bandwidth.
Other Factors to Keep in Mind When Selecting a VPN
- Price: Consider the cost of the VPN service and whether it fits into your budget.
- Customer support: Choose a provider with strong customer support, including live chat, email support, and phone support.
- Ease of use: The VPN should be easy to set up and use for all employees in your organization.
- Speed: Choose a provider with fast connection speeds to ensure smooth online communication.
Top 5 VPN Services for Small Businesses in 2023
Are you looking for the best VPN services for your small business in 2023? Look no further than this list of the top five VPN services, according to Forbes Advisor.
- Private Internet Access
These VPNs offer top-notch security and privacy for small businesses, with servers in multiple countries allowing for global access.
ExpressVPN is ranked as the number one VPN service for small businesses by Forbes Advisor. Here are some of its key features:
- High-Speed Servers: ExpressVPN has a network of high-speed servers in over 94 countries, offering fast connection speeds.
- Strong Encryption: It uses strong 256-bit AES encryption to secure your data.
- Unlimited Bandwidth: There is no limit to the amount of data you can transfer.
- Multi-platform Support: It is compatible with a wide range of platforms, including Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, and routers. There are also browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.
- Simultaneous Connections: You can connect up to 5 devices simultaneously on one ExpressVPN subscription.
- Zero-Logs Policy: ExpressVPN follows a strict no-logs policy. It does not collect or keep any activity or connection logs.
- Kill Switch (Network Lock): This feature keeps your data safe even if your VPN connection drops. It blocks all internet traffic until the VPN connection is restored.
- Split Tunneling: This feature allows you to route some device traffic through a VPN while other traffic accesses the internet directly.
- 24/7 Live Chat Support: ExpressVPN provides around-the-clock customer support through live chat and email.
- TrustedServer Technology: This technology ensures that servers run on the latest software and that data is wiped with every reboot, as servers never write to the hard drive.
- IP Address Masking: ExpressVPN hides your real IP address and location to maintain your privacy and security.
- VPN Speed Test: It allows you to see how fast your VPN server connections are working.
NordVPN is another great option for small businesses, with over 5400 servers in 59 countries. Here are some of its key features:
- Wide Server Network: NordVPN boasts a vast network of over 5400 servers in 59 countries worldwide.
- Strong Encryption: It uses AES-256-GCM encryption with a 4096-bit DH key to secure your data.
- No Logs Policy: NordVPN operates under a strict no-logs policy, meaning they don’t track, collect, or share your private data.
- Double VPN: This feature routes your traffic through two VPN servers, encrypting it twice.
- CyberSec: This feature blocks ads and protects you from entering malicious websites.
- Simultaneous Connections: You can secure up to 6 devices with a single NordVPN account.
- Multi-platform Support: NordVPN is compatible with most platforms, including Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, and it offers browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.
- Kill Switch: An automatic Kill Switch ensures your data stays secure even if your VPN connection drops.
- P2P Servers: NordVPN has hundreds of servers optimized for P2P traffic.
- Obfuscated Servers: These servers allow you to use VPN in heavily restricted regions.
- Dedicated IP: NordVPN gives you the option to get a dedicated IP address.
- Onion Over VPN: NordVPN provides you the advantage of The Onion Router (Tor) combined with the security of a VPN tunnel.
- 24/7 Customer Support: NordVPN offers round-the-clock support via live chat and email.
- Diskless RAM Servers: As of 2020, NordVPN has started to transition to diskless RAM servers for improved security.
CyberGhost is an affordable VPN service that doesn’t compromise on security or performance. Here are some of its key features:
- Wide Server Network: CyberGhost has a large network of over 7,000 servers in 90+ countries worldwide.
- Strong Encryption: It uses 256-bit AES encryption, which is a high level of security.
- No-Logs Policy: CyberGhost has a strict no-logs policy, meaning they do not track, collect, or share your private data.
- Multi-platform Support: CyberGhost is compatible with most platforms, including Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS. There are also browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.
- Simultaneous Connections: You can connect up to 7 devices simultaneously with a single CyberGhost subscription.
- Automated HTTPS Redirect: This feature ensures that the most secure connection possible is made to each website.
- Kill Switch: This feature ensures your data stays safe by blocking all internet traffic if your VPN connection drops.
- Ad Blocking: CyberGhost has a built-in ad blocker to enhance your browsing experience.
- Unlimited Bandwidth and Traffic: CyberGhost provides unlimited data, so there are no data limits or throttling to worry about.
- Global Servers: CyberGhost offers access to global content with its diverse server locations, which includes dedicated servers for streaming and torrenting.
- 24/7 Customer Support: CyberGhost offers customer support 24/7 via live chat and email.
- Money-Back Guarantee: CyberGhost provides a 45-day money-back guarantee, which is one of the longest in the industry.
Surfshark is a newer VPN service but has quickly gained popularity among small businesses due to its affordability and advanced security features. Here are its key features.
- Unlimited Devices: Unlike many VPNs, Surfshark allows an unlimited number of devices to be connected simultaneously on a single subscription.
- Over 3200 Servers in 65 Countries: Surfshark has a wide network of servers worldwide, providing a large number of locations to connect to.
- Strong Encryption: It uses AES-256-GCM encryption, a high level of security used by governments and cybersecurity experts.
- MultiHop: This feature allows you to connect via multiple countries at once to take ID protection and footprint masking to another level.
- No-Logs Policy: Surfshark operates under a strict no-logs policy, so they do not collect or share your private data.
- CleanWeb: Surfshark’s CleanWeb feature blocks ads, trackers, and malicious websites, enhancing your browsing experience and security.
- Kill Switch: This feature blocks all internet traffic if the VPN connection drops unexpectedly, protecting your real IP address from being exposed.
- Private DNS & Leak Protection: Each VPN server has a private DNS and leak protection when using IPv4 stack to ensure your identity stays private.
- Camouflage Mode: This feature makes your VPN use completely invisible, even to your internet service provider.
- NoBorders Mode: This allows users to successfully use Surfshark in regions with restrictions on internet access or VPN usage.
- Whitelister: Surfshark’s split-tunneling feature allows certain apps or websites to bypass the VPN.
- 24/7 Customer Support: Surfshark provides round-the-clock customer support via live chat and email.
- Multi-platform Support: Surfshark supports most platforms including Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, and offers browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.
#5 Private Internet Access (PIA)
Private Internet Access (PIA) is a popular choice for small businesses due to its affordability and strong security features. Here are its main features.
- Large Server Network: PIA boasts a vast network with thousands of servers in 70+ countries.
- Strong Encryption: It uses the robust AES-256 encryption standard, providing high-level security for your data.
- No-Logs Policy: PIA has a strict no-logs policy, meaning they do not track, collect, or share your private data.
- Simultaneous Connections: You can connect up to 10 devices simultaneously with a single PIA subscription, which is higher than the industry average.
- Ad and Tracker Blocking: PIA’s MACE feature blocks ads, trackers, and malicious websites to enhance your online security and browsing experience.
- Wi-Fi Encryption: This feature provides security for your data when connected to public Wi-Fi networks.
- Kill Switch: PIA’s Kill Switch blocks all internet traffic if the VPN connection drops unexpectedly, preventing your real IP address from being exposed.
- Split Tunneling: This feature allows you to decide which apps or websites use the VPN and which ones access the internet directly.
- SOCKS5 Proxy: PIA includes access to a SOCKS5 proxy server which can provide additional layers of privacy.
- Multi-platform Support: PIA supports most platforms including Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, and offers browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera.
- 24/7 Customer Support: PIA provides round-the-clock customer support via live chat and email.
Quick Feature Comparison of VPN Services
Below is a comparison table featuring some of the most important features of these five VPN services.
|Feature/VPN||ExpressVPN||NordVPN||CyberGhost VPN||Surfshark VPN||Private Internet Access (PIA)|
|Servers||Over 3,000 in 94 countries||Over 5,400 in 59 countries||Over 7,000 in 90+ countries||Over 3,200 in 65 countries||Thousands in 70+ countries|
|Ad and Tracker Blocking||No||Yes (CyberSec)||Yes||Yes (CleanWeb)||Yes (MACE)|
|Special Features||TrustedServer technology, VPN Speed Test||Double VPN, Onion Over VPN, Diskless RAM Servers||Automated HTTPS Redirect, 45-day Money-Back Guarantee||MultiHop, Camouflage Mode, NoBorders Mode, Whitelister||SOCKS5 Proxy, Wi-Fi Encryptio|
Please note that this table simplifies the features for a comparison, and each of these VPNs may have additional features that are not included in this table.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Using a VPN for Small Business
Security is always a top priority. With the rise of remote work and online transactions, using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) has become an increasingly popular solution for businesses looking to protect their sensitive data. However, like any technology solution, there are both benefits and drawbacks to using a VPN for small business.
Benefits of Using a VPN for Small Business
A VPN encrypts all internet traffic between the user’s device and the VPN server, making it much more difficult for hackers or other malicious actors to intercept sensitive information. This is especially important when employees are accessing company resources from outside the office or on public Wi-Fi networks.
Remote Access to Company Resources
With a VPN, employees can securely access company files and applications from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. This can greatly improve productivity by allowing team members to work from home or while traveling without sacrificing security.
By providing secure remote access, a VPN can also enable collaboration across different locations and time zones. This can lead to increased efficiency and faster project completion times.
Drawbacks of Using a VPN for Small Business
Potential Slowdowns in Internet Speed
Because all internet traffic is being routed through the VPN server, there is potential for slower connection speeds compared to not using one at all. This can be especially noticeable when large files are being transferred or when streaming video content.
Additional Costs for Setup and Maintenance
While many consumer-grade VPN services are available at low cost or even free of charge, enterprise-level solutions suitable for small businesses may require significant investment in hardware, software licenses, and IT support personnel.
Need for Employee Training on Proper Usage
In order to ensure that employees are using the VPN correctly and not inadvertently putting sensitive data at risk, it may be necessary to provide training on proper usage. This can take time and resources away from other business priorities.
VPN Services to Avoid for Small Business Use in 2023
When signing up for a VPN service, you want a provider that offers reliable performance, strong encryption, and excellent customer support. However, not all VPN services are created equal. Here are some VPN services you should avoid for small business use in 2023.
Poorly Rated VPN Providers
One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a VPN provider is their ratings and reviews from users. If a provider has poor ratings or negative reviews, it’s likely that they have issues with reliability, security, or customer support. Therefore, it’s best to avoid these providers altogether.
Some examples of poorly rated VPN providers include HMA (HideMyAss), PureVPN, and Hotspot Shield. These providers have been criticized for slow speeds, poor customer support, and even logging user data.
Lack of Forward Secrecy or Outdated Encryption Algorithms
Encryption is one of the key features of any good VPN service. It ensures that your online activity is protected from prying eyes by encrypting your data before it leaves your device. However, not all encryption algorithms are created equal.
You should avoid VPN services that do not offer forward secrecy or use outdated encryption algorithms like AES 128. Forward secrecy ensures that even if someone were to obtain your encryption key in the future, they would not be able to decrypt past communications.
Some examples of VPN services that lack forward secrecy or use outdated encryption algorithms include Windscribe and TunnelBear.
History of Logging User Data or Malicious Websites
Another factor to consider when choosing a VPN provider is their history with user data logging and malicious websites. Some providers have been known to log user data and sell it to third-party advertisers or government agencies.
Some providers have been associated with malicious websites that could compromise the security of your network. Therefore, it’s best to avoid these providers altogether.
Some examples of VPN providers with a history of logging user data or associated with malicious websites include Hola VPN and Betternet.
Alternatives to Avoiding These VPN Services
If you’re looking for a reliable VPN service for your small business, there are several alternatives to the services mentioned above. For example, NordLayer offers excellent performance and security features like double encryption and automatic kill switch.
You can also consider using cloud-based VPN services like Perimeter 81 or OpenVPN Access Server. These services offer maximum flexibility and customization options for your business needs.
Check user reviews from reputable sources such as Trustpilot, G2, and Capterra while devciding on a good VPN service.
In conclusion, choosing the right VPN service is crucial for small businesses in 2023. It ensures that your sensitive data remains secure from cyber threats and theft. Consider the factors mentioned above when selecting a VPN service and use our list of top 5 best VPN services as a starting point. Protect your business data today!