Small businesses often fail to allocate an appropriate budget for cybersecurity measures. This is understandable on many levels: after all, most small businesses are too low-profile to become targets of cyber attacks, most of them do not have and cannot afford a cybersecurity specialist or even consultant to implement best cybersecurity practices or provide digital security training to the management and staff. In the end, the majority of small businesses weight out the investment in cybersecurity against the possibility and risk of a data breach – and take their chances. After all, regulatory standards in most countries do not have a cybersecurity baseline for small businesses at all: aside from recommendations and tip sheets.
Cybersec theory and practice for small enterprises
It is hard to underestimate the importance of cybersecurity measures in an enterprise of any size, especially if customer data handled by the business is of a sensitive nature. Small businesses that offer online payment services, run a website that requires user registration to become controllers of private user data and become legally liable for mishandling such data, including not taking preventive measures to protect it.
Virtual private network
Installing a virtual private network for workplace operations is an optimal step for small businesses who have limited funds allocated for cybersecurity but approach the data protection of their customers and business operations seriously.
While any digital security strategy needs to start from the human factor and capacity building among staff members, installing a VPN to provide a secure internal network is the first step. The good news is, VPN infrastructure is suitable not just for a standard physical office. More and more SMEs operate in a virtual co-working space, using web-based project management software to keep track of everyday operations, knowledge management and assigned responsibilities. In such a small business, all employees and contractors may be based in various countries and having in-person meet-ups only a few times a year. Such operational models make it even more pertinent to ensure that all business-related communications are protected.
What VPN effectively does for your business network, it establishes a tunnel reserved just for the data exchanges conducted by your employees (i.e. persons authorised within the network) and web services they access. Top VPN services offer a cost-effective service that connects your employers within one virtual private network, allows them to securely access business files and services from any location.
The cost-effectiveness of modern VPN is in subscription plans that offer services to multiple users within one virtual private network. Instead of purchasing individual VPN subscription to every company employee, modern VPN providers offer plans for enterprises that include up to 5, 10, 100 connected devices. This also leaves the business with a lot of flexibility to grow and add new members to your network without excessive technical efforts.
Cloud storage protection
Aside from storing business data on employees’ computers, small enterprises are likely to use cloud storage – especially if they conduct most of their communications and operations online. VPN can ensure a secure connection between you and the cloud storage every time to enter your credentials to access the cloud. While most cloud storage providers employ their own protection measures to ensure your data cannot be accessed by unauthorised persons, access to your business cloud storage remains vulnerable as your login data can be intercepted when you enter it on an unencrypted network. With a secure VPN tunnel in place, your credentials cannot be intercepted, no matter if you are working from home, from public WiFi, or from office space. Same applies to any data you upload to the cloud storage: work files, images, recordings – on a virtual private network, these data are securely encrypted and can only be accessed by other users with network access credentials – i.e., your colleagues.
Privacy and confidentiality
Aside from protecting your business data, VPN services offer the security of your browsing history, protecting it from your Internet Service Provider and any other unauthorised party. This aspect of VPN usage is essential for small enterprises that handle sensitive data, conduct confidential research and reporting activities. Anonymity in business services cannot be taken for granted, in the environment where you have to protect yourself from competitors and undesired advertisers.
A virtual private network for your business also ensures efficient use of the bandwidth and therefore improved connection speeds for users within your network.
There are many other advantages to VPN in small businesses, especially if it relies on contractors based around the world or travelling frequently. VPN is essential to bypass censorship and domain blocking implemented by some countries. Google services are banned in China, which makes it impossible to do as much as access G-Suite, on which most small businesses rely to store data and conduct communications.