Do You Need VPN Protection?

Why Your eCommerce Website Needs VPN Protection

The past few years have seen record-breaking cybercrimes and large-scale data breaches that have hit individuals and organizations of all sizes in the public and private sectors. However, headline-grabbing exploits don’t even touch on the cost of weak security, which often goes beyond money. This is especially true for small to medium business (SMB) owners, who may not have the resources to recover from cyber attacks.

Nearly 2/3 of businesses that are breached lose money, and 20 percent lose customers. Some threats include:

– Staff members using personal devices on the job

– Third-party apps

– Malware and viruses

– Hacking and phishing scams

What can a business owner do?

One solution is to sign on with a virtual private network (VPN), which will protect you and your customers from spying eyes and malicious actors of all kinds. If you’ve never considered a VPN for your business website, here’s an overview of what they are and how they can protect your reputation and bottom line.

What is a Virtual Private Network (VPN)?

Virtual private networks (VPNs) create a tunnel of privacy through which your web traffic travels. These networks encrypt all information traveling between the host server and the client, meaning that all of your activity, IP address, location, and other data are safe from hackers and spyware. With this technology, you can access blocked websites from other areas, protect devices when using public Wi-Fi connections, support remote or virtual office environments, and allow you to segment your server to provide a secure guest network for visitors apart from your business connections.

When it’s time to choose a business VPN, consider trying a free VPN from Hotspot Shield before making a long-term financial commitment.

Five Ways a VPN Can Help SMBs

Even if you use one for secure surfing on your personal networks, you may be wondering how a VPN can help secure your eCommerce website. Business cyber security should take a multi-faceted approach, and it doesn’t have to break your budget. You plan should include:

  • Keeping software and systems patched and updated
  • Limiting or eliminating BYOD policies
  • Training all staff in security best practices like strong password protection
  • Create a comprehensive security protocol, and lead by example
  • Keeping networks and connected devices secure

That’s where VPN comes in. Let’s look a little deeper at how VPNs:

Cover your digital tracks

  1. Cover your digital tracks – You and your staff members leave traces every time you visit a website from any device connected to your network. This means that everyone from hackers to government agencies can potentially trace your activity and use any information they find to access sensitive data. Installing a VPN will hide your actual IP address and activity from anyone stalking the internet for information.

Protect workers outside the office

  1. Protect workers outside the office – One of the benefits of mobile work forces is the ability to get work done outside of the confines of the office. Many times, these same workers leave social media or other accounts open, which can allow access to banking or personal information as well. This exposes sensitive data to others who are using the same open network in coffee houses, airports, and other public places. Virtual private networks allow you and your associates to conduct business or work on reports privately and securely.

Protect your reputation

  1. Protect your reputation – Consumer confidence is an all-time low, due mainly to high-profile cases of data breaches and ransomware attacks. Protecting your customers’ information will demonstrate your commitment to their well-being and peace of mind.

Provide cost-effective global access

  1. Provide cost-effective global access – Since a VPN can provide service from almost any location on the globe that your provider covers, you’ll be able to gain free or low-cost access to websites that may not be available in your location.

Help you avoid throttling

  1. Help you avoid throttling – Throttling is the practice of slowing down connection speed or limiting bandwidth that’s sometimes used by internet service providers, organizations, or government agencies. Although VPNs can do little about data caps, they do compress files to limit the amount of bandwidth used, block ads, and deflect unwanted traffic.

What to Look for in a Business VPN

Not all business VPNs are created equally. When the goal is to avoid major security issues, it’s important to choose the best service for your budget and goals. Extras and frills are a matter of personal preference. However, there are some core considerations and requirements that any high-level VPN provider should offer.

Look for:

Security – This is the main consideration, after all. Make sure your provider uses the latest firmware, and that they update it frequently.

Pricing and policies – Look for a service provider that has reasonable pricing that’s stated up-front, with no hidden fees or unexpected rate hikes. They should also clearly state their terms of service and policies in writing.

Strict no-log policies – Some VPNs claim to offer privacy and security while logging your IP addresses, location, activity, and other information you’re paying to keep private. Make sure to sign on with a service that offers a strict no-log policy, meaning they track or record nothing.

No third-party deals – Another unscrupulous practice is that of offering a no-log promise, but selling your information to third-parties. This is usually spelled out in the TOS or user agreement, so read it carefully

Responsive customer service – You want to know your provider is there whenever you have a problem. Look for 24/7/365 customer service and tech support, and multiple methods of contact.

As a proven security measure for anyone who does business online, a virtual private network is a cost-effective first line of defense. One last word of advice. There’s a saying that you get what you pay for, so some might be wary of trying a free VPN from Hotspot Shield. Keeping in mind the above criteria for VPN selection, you’ll find that some free services offer a robust set of features and many perks. They also allow you to take the service for a test drive first. Just make sure to read and understand all of the small print before committing to any provider.

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn’t know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.