A virtual private network (VPN) works by creating a dedicated tunnel-like structure that allows users to send their data and information securely. This tunnel is created using standard authentication and encryption tools.
VPN connections can support many users simultaneously and are widely used in businesses for remote working, it allows employees who are working from home to access the company’s private network securely.
Why you need a VPN
VPNs protect businesses’ confidential data from attackers and data breaches.
Your business needs to use a VPN connection tool for the following reasons;
- Better security– remote communication is safeguarded by VPNs. Private networks are kept confidential and secure. This protects you from hackers who try to steel data. Hijacking communications also becomes harder while the exact geographical location of your employees is not exposed to the public or attackers.
- VPNs are convenient – nowadays, remote working has become common and the go-to solution for many businesses. You might experience problems and inefficiencies in processes if your employees do not have secure and prompt access to company data. VPNs are here to simplify this process. Your users will not have to be physically present to access data or access the internal network. Virtual private networks will also guarantee the security of your business resources and network.
- Ease of administration– your business may grow faster than you had budgeted for. A VPN will come in handy when this happens as you won’t have to worry about network expanding budgets and high expenses. You don’t have to build complex network configurations since with a VPN, it is easier to add and manage new users.
Kaesim Cybersecurity recommends Bitdefender VPN, which has a free basic mobile package. The premium package comes with some extra costs but more features and advanced options.
Bitdefender is recommended because it is low-cost, secure, and fast. Here are other reasons why Kaesim cybersecurity recommends Bitdefender and what you will be able to benefit from if you use it:
- To surf the web in incognito– although people use private browsing for anonymity when surfing the internet, it is not secure enough unlike VPN.
- You will be protected against attacks that are targeted– the Bitdefender premium option will protect you from attacks that target you. These attacks include the DDoS ( Distributed denial of service attack) which may try to slow you down or get access to certain resources in your business. Some competitors may use illegal, targeted, and unfair means to try to bring you down,
- You will be able to secure all your business’ traffic when exposed to a public network- when we talk about remote working, employees can also work on the go meaning they might not work from home but are still able to access the company network. They may do so from hotels or shopping malls using public Wi-Fi. This might be risky since these public places are targets for hackers who may want to exploit your business’ traffic. When workers are connected to a VPN, all their traffic is highly encrypted and no hacker can exploit them.
Aspects to consider when choosing a VPN
There are many VPN options available, you may be overwhelmed and ending up choosing the wrong option. When you are searching for VPN services, there are some key metrics you should consider.
A great VPN should allow P2P traffic for the servers and also allow a minimum connection of 5 devices at the same time. These two qualities are common and free in most VPN services. This means you should be careful not to end up paying monthly fees for these services.
Pricing may be a difficult aspect to consider. You may not know what amount you should spend annually or monthly for a VPN. The average cost for a good quality virtual private network is $10 per month. Although some options may come with a higher price tag, the value add should justify the extra cost. This may include many server locations.
For annual contracts, you may expect approximately $72 for a VPN subscription. You should however be careful with this package. It is recommended that you ask for a free trial to be sure of the quality of the service. You may not want to pay for bad services with long commitments which you cannot change. You may also choose to start with a short-term subscription first for testing.
Good free VPNs are rare. Although almost all providers give a free trial, it is usually for a limited time. Most services also have a free basic option and a paid one which is premium.
Some VPNs may slow down your internet speeds. Although there are different factors affecting internet speeds, you should also be aware of for the type of VPN. You should test your providers’ services and their effect on internet service speeds using your local network.
Location is another aspect you should consider, which is where your VPN provider is based. However, this doesn’t mean that this is where your provider is physically situated. The location is used for legal purposes and it is used to outline the jurisdiction your provider operates under.
For example, a VPN company located in Panama or Switzerland will not be restricted under any law that declares data retention because the local laws don’t declare it. Data retention laws require VPN providers to retain specific information that is given to the law enforcers upon request.
There are different aspects to consider when looking for VPN services. The top features you should ensure you have are location, speeds, terms of service, and the money you will spend.
Setting up a VPN
There are 7 key processes you need to undertake. Here is how to set up a VPN;
1. Line up the key VPN components
There are 3 things you need before you start the setup process. A VPN router, VPN server, and a VPN client. Your employees will access your business’ network through a client which is downloadable and connects to servers in different parts of the world.
This client can be accessed through laptops or smartphones. Workers who are also connecting through public WI-FI are also allowed to connect. The VPN router is used for encrypting and securing all your business’ network traffic. You don’t have to worry about setting up a VPN client in routers since most of them come with a built-in one.
2. Prepping devices in your network
At times, the brought-in VPN clients may conflict with other clients or don’t work together at all. This is why you need to prepare your business’ network before installing a VPN to avoid problems in the future.
You should ensure you uninstall any VPN client you have whether its a software or any existing VPN. This is because clients may be conflicting which can lead to problems. It is advisable that you also configure your network to fit the needs of the VPN clients and your clients.
Your workers may access your network through different ways like modems, WI-FI, or even wired connections. This means you will spend more time configuring your VPN client to suit all your workforce needs.
3. Download and properly install VPN clients
It is advised that you install VPN clients directly from your VPN provider. This will simplify the entire process and also make it faster. You should install what your provider offers first which may include different versions of software for Android, iOS, or Windows.
Visit the VPN provider’s website and go to the downloads tab. Check what you want to download and also ensure you download applications for mobile devices which your workers will have access to and use remotely. You have to protect connections from all devices including mobile phones.
Once this step is completed, you should confirm if your VPN service account is working properly.
4. Look for a reliable setup tutorial
If some of the devices your business uses are not catered for by your provider, you should consider going through the provider’s website for tutorials on how to set up VPN software for these devices. Here, you might find detailed documentation. In case you don’t find the information you need, contact your provider.
5. Log into your VPN
You may be given a username and password or be asked to configure one after successfully installing the VPN client application. After you have completed this step, your VPN app will connect to the nearest server to you.
6. Choose your VPN protocols
This stage will enable you to decide how you want your data to be routed between your employees’ devices, network devices, and the VPN server or the total number of servers you have.
Your VPN connection may improve your VPN type speed or even make you have better security and data privacy. This means you should be careful about how you set up your VPNs since your connection protocol will determine the quality of your network.
a. SSTP – Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol is a connection protocol that is fully integrated with the Microsoft Operating system. If you are using Windows 10 for example, it will fall here.
b. OpenVPN- you can view the code for this protocol since it is open source. This protocol is quickly becoming a standard in the VPN industry.
c. PPTP- Point-to-point Tunneling Protocol was used for past connections. It has been superseded by secure and faster protocols.
d. L2TP/IPSec- Layer 2 Tunnel Protocol is bundled with IPSec protocol which ensures strong security through authentication and encryption of data packets that are to be sent over the VPN tunnel.
7. Troubleshooting your network
After the download and installation process is done and your VPN is working, you should try shutting down the client VPN and rebooting the device you have connected with. Reopen the client and then connect again. Before taking these steps, you should also ensure that any other VPN software in your device is disconnected.
You might experience trouble when logging in, check your credentials like the username and password. Some VPN types provide login information while others let their users choose their own. If login problems persist, double-check the emails provided by your VPN provider and the correct login process.
Your VPN clients require the right software drivers to function properly. You can check the settings page for the repair feature or just find this feature on the settings of your device.
If you experience connection problems, you can try and switch to a different server that should also be close to your physical location. You can also choose to reconnect with a different protocol to the current one you are using.
If you still experience different issues, double-check if other VPN software programs have been disabled. Other programs like firewalls or antivirus may try to block your VPN. In this case, try to temporarily shut down these programs and turn them on once your issues are resolved.
8. Fine Tune your Connection
You have installed your VPN software and corrected all the errors you might have experienced. It is now time to ensure your VPN is aligned with your business needs. There are different factors to configure like when you want to start your VPN to start running. Is it immediately after your workers start their devices? You should also have the reason for the decisions you make. For example, if you need protection every time an employee is connected or only when you require so.
You should also turn on the kill switch if it is offered by your provider. Kill switch prevents all devices from receiving or sending any data and information in case the VPN disconnects. It is also recommended that you fine-tune your most used servers to be favourites or defaults. You will not have to scan and search for these servers each time you connect since they are already listed, which will save time.
Your VPN may be slowed down by the different number of servers. When setting up a VPN service, you should ensure split tunneling is enabled. Your VPN service should guarantee strong security and your VPN connection should provide all your users with a secure split-tunneling service.
You should ensure all your users add a VPN connection and follow all the instructions provided by your VPN provider. If they don’t find the instructions, they can look up tutorials on how to set up a VPN for that particular provider.
All the apps that your users rely on, whether they use iOS and Android or any other device should properly set up a VPN. As a business owner, you should also know the total number of servers you have and the number of users on each VPN server.
Setting up a VPN is a process that should be done carefully so that you can note all the configurations you make and the protocols you choose. This is why you should rely on a trusted provider with a secure VPN service. You want your business to be always protected and this is why you should use a VPN to ensure encryption of all your traffic.
How cyber-secure is your business? Find out with our free cybersecurity health check.
It’s a 30 minute Zoom call that walks through a checklist to assess your current cybersecurity levels and provide a short report with some advice and recommendations.