It goes without saying that online transactions and activities must be made securely, and having a virtual private network or VPN can help protect your digital presence. It’s especially a smart move for small businesses to equip themselves with an efficient VPN tool because it helps strengthen their security measures and assures that their employees’ data are safe online.
So how can you set up a VPN for your startup or small business? A virtual private network is one of the best investments that you can make for the security of your business. To get started, you should find a VPN provider who can provide for your security needs. Once you sign up with a provider, you’ll need to set up VPN protocols, install software or a VPN client, and test the system if it’s working efficiently.
Why Does Your Small Business Need a VPN?
Today, online attackers and cybercriminals aren’t limiting their targets to big corporations and enterprises. Without a proper security network in place, new startups and micro-businesses are easy prey to phishing scams, breaches, malware attacks, and DDoS attacks.
VPNs essentially work by creating another secure server where it will reroute your activity and online traffic before it accesses the internet. It hides your IP address and lets you browse the web with a remote server provided by the VPN.
For businesses, having a VPN means that your employees can have a protected connection so they can safely access company resources even when they’re working remotely. A business can appoint managers to take charge of the VPN and control the security settings and monitor activities across all employees. Having specific persons to manage the VPNs also makes it easier to standardize and implement the organization’s security protocols.
Steps to Setting Up Your Business VPN
While larger businesses mostly set up their VPN with cloud-based operators, smaller enterprises can sign up with a VPN service provided by third-party security firms or internet service providers. Here are the steps to prepare the VPN availed from a service provider:
- Determine your business needs
To make sure that the VPN service covers your business needs, you must first evaluate your organization and your goals. You may speak with a VPN provider directly and they’ll help assess your business to find the right VPN service. There are also certain factors that can affect your decision in choosing a VPN:
- The number of devices that will need a VPN — How many employees will need a VPN on their devices?
- Current computer operating system (OS) — Is your VPN compatible with Windows OS, Mac, or Linux?
- Location — Does the VPN have a wide range of server locations? You should seriously think about this especially if you have employees in a work-from-home setup.
- Internet connection speed — How fast is your current internet connection? Your business may need to upgrade your current internet service plan to ensure that the VPN service runs smoothly.
- Prepare important VPN components and tools
After you identify and establish your business needs, a VPN requires equipment such as a VPN router, server, and software. A VPN provider will give you the necessary server and software to be installed. Remote workers can use a VPN with their standard router, but for those in shared workplaces with multiple employees connecting to the network, a VPN router may be more qualified and secure.
- Assign VPN protocols
A VPN protocol is a set of network rules that establish how data and information will be packaged, encrypted, and shared from your computer to the server. Different protocol types have different purposes such as strengthening security, boosting speed, and enhancing the level of data encryption. The common VPN protocols are:
- OpenVPN: Also known as open-source VPN, this type of VPN protocol allows business developers and admins to view its code. It’s one of the popular VPN options because it allows easy and simple configuration of settings to suit your business needs.
- SSTP: Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol is developed by Microsoft and it’s often already integrated with computers running on Windows OS. It has good security features and provides consistent updates to make sure your business stays up to date with the tech.
- L2TP: The Layer 2 Tunnel Protocol is one of the popular types of VPN protocols. It’s usually paired with IPSec, an internet protocol security that encrypts data before sending it to the internet. L2TP can be considered one of the most secure and strong VPN protocols, but it can be quite difficult to configure.
- PPTP: Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol is one of the oldest types of VPN protocols as it was introduced by Microsoft in the 90s. Originally, PPTP was specially designed for dial-up connections. However, it may not be up to par with modern VPN protocols because it lacks encryption and security features.
- Install VPN client
To get your VPN functioning, download the client or software that’s given by your provider. This is usually found on their website, and downloading it will install the VPN program on your device.
Upon installation of the VPN client, you’ll be prompted to set up encryption protection when accessing online sites and resources. You may also be asked if you want to set up an ad blocker that will protect against unwanted viruses from pop-up ads. The installation will also let you set up a VPN administrator and customize the security settings that you want.
- Try to test VPN and troubleshoot any problems
The best way to see if your VPN is set and ready to go is to run a test drive on your device. To do this, restart your device and re-open your VPN client. During this simulation period, you should make sure your software drivers are working correctly. Make sure that your device is also running the latest version of the software system to ensure that no issues come up.
If the connection is slow, you may want to configure network settings and connect to another internet server. You should also check if your firewall programs or settings are disrupting the VPN connections.
Types of VPN for Businesses
There are three general categories of VPN for businesses. Each of them has its own set of advantages, so it’s important to decide on the right VPN that will meet your business needs. The types of business VPNs are:
- Fixed VPN
These are also known as static or dedicated VPNs. It earned its name because it provides clients with a unique and dedicated IP address that’s different from other businesses. It’s usually set up in the main office so that everyone in the company will be easily connected to the VPN.
It’s an ideal VPN choice if you want to set up centralized access for all your business resources and better user management. There’s also less external traffic on your server so productivity and activity aren’t affected.
- Specialized VPN
Specialized VPNs are the type of VPNs that are connected directly to a specialized router. It’s usually managed by an IT department. This is popular among large corporations because it allows multiple people to connect to the VPN without changing settings for each individual. A specialized VPN also automatically protects the device once the user connects to the network.
- VPN Service
Most VPN services are cloud-based. They essentially take the place of your ISP by creating a separate tunnel between your device and the server. It’s one of the popular VPN options for consumers since it’s affordable and easy to use. Businesses can also benefit from having a VPN service, but they may not enjoy the same administrator setting features which are present from other options.
How to Choose a Business VPN Provider: Important Features You Need to Look for
A good VPN must be able to safeguard business information and resources from external threats. It should also be able to integrate more streamlined processes and security management approaches. Here are other things that must be considered in choosing a business VPN:
- Activity management: There are VPNs that allow you to set website restrictions to ensure that employees only access safe and secure websites. It also lets you control their activity in social media to optimize maximum productivity during work hours.
- Centralized system: A central management interface is crucial for any small or large business. Select a VPN that has a control panel where your administrator can easily make configuration options and change permissions if needed. This will also allow you to set up multi-factor authorization on user accounts to assure information security.
- Security tracking: One of the main purposes of having a VPN is to protect the business against cyberattacks. You should review your provider’s password and security policies to make sure that any information that you’ll store won’t fall into the wrong hands.
- Customer support: It’s also important to know how well your provider responds to customer inquiries. Having good customer service equates to a better user experience, especially if you encounter a server or connection issue with your business VPN. If you have to wait for days for a response from the customer service, it may negatively impact your business.
Smart IT Solution Plans and Services With Abacus
Online threats and data breaches continue to be rampant, but having an efficient VPN tool can help secure your small business from these attacks. At Abacus, we can help you choose the best VPN that your business needs.
Abacus is a leading managed services provider that offers a wide range of IT solutions and comprehensive security plans. Our team of experienced engineers and support staff has helped many institutions in their different management and security needs. Call Abacus today to learn more about our IT support services.