By Christopher Nichols
A VPN is useful in protecting your personal and work data in a variety of ways. With so many people working from home, many companies are being targeted, increasing the likelihood of security breaches. If you have a VPN, you’ll be able to work from home safely without worry, especially as business operations are taking place. This is very important, as an employer’s first requirement is to ensure everything coming back and forth on their servers is protected. It’s important to know and understand the company you’re getting the VPN from.
What exactly is a VPN?
Virtual Private Network, or VPN is a software or service that encrypts data to prevent hackers or cybercriminals from accessing sensitive information. In a nutshell, a VPN works as a buffer to prevent internet service providers (ISP), hackers and other information that is usually accessible on public or unprotected networks from being compromised. This ensures that all company-based messages, documents, downloads and any financial information being transferred are private. Another good thing about a VPN is that it can be used from desktop and any mobile device.
There are two types of VPN services: a single VPN server or a third-party subscription service. If the company provides the VPN, it’s important to follow all IT protocols. This may mean working on the company’s computer to do their work and use a personal computer for all other activities. In all fairness, this the best solution to ensure their information is not compromised. If the company has not provided a secure VPN server, acquiring one to use not only protects your employer, but personal data as well.
Whether using a US VPN or one with a server base elsewhere, it’s important to make sure the company is trustworthy. What does that mean? A good VPN company will have no-log policies in place to ensure your information and internet activities remain private. If law enforcement tries to get information from the VPN company, there won’t be any records to produce. It’s very important to look at their Terms of Service to make sure this is a good fit.
Protecting personal data
It’s good to use a company-provided VPN to protect their information while working, but what happens when using a personal computer? The process is the same as if working on work documents. Your personal information like credit card information, passcodes and other data being sent over a network will be hidden. In fact, the VPN changes your IP address to give the illusion of being somewhere else instead of at your home site or at home with a mobile device.
What can a hacker do with your personal data?
One of the main reasons hackers try to find out passwords and other information is to get financial or personal identifiers that can help them to either steal money from your bank account, use your credit card accounts to get items sent to them or worse. When hackers have your personal identifiers, they can easily falsify documents that could cost you time, money and peace of mind.
If any personal or financial information is stored into a gaming system, using a VPN makes sense. Additionally, VPNs work well in this capacity, because it allows the person to remain anonymous along with their location. A VPN also works well in getting into previously blocked areas to play games that may not be accessible in the US or the person’s home country. This also applies to Netflix and other streaming services.
Public WI-Fi Connections
A VPN is especially useful when having to access sensitive data on a public Wi-Fi network. These networks are notorious for extracting information to unsuspecting users in cafes, airports and anywhere they use public Wi-Fi. Although many mobile phone companies are now providing free Wi-Fi hotspots, the chances of your phone or information being compromised is huge. Use a VPN whenever you can to ensure this doesn’t happen.
Being mobile while at work is almost a necessity. Knowing you have the ability to work without worry can increase productivity. All it takes is enabling the VPN client software to get to work – from anywhere.
Which VPN service should be used?
The VPN service should be a reputable one. It’s important to note not all VPN services are alike. Free VPN services don’t offer as much protection, and if the goal is to ensure protection for work and personal use, this won’t work. There are many affordable commercial VPN services on the market:
Full of features, they offer a discount for their packages and speed.
This VPN service is also known for speed and privacy.
NordVPN is known for its reliability and security for their users.
IPVanish is widely known for its flexibility, especially for beginners.
Making the right choice really depends on user needs and their budget. All four of these services can handle work and personal needs, creating a safe space to conduct business while keeping things private. Be sure to check price, number of server locations, any caps on bandwidth, ease of use, whether there are any log policies, a dedicated and dynamic IP address, and how accessible they are to assist their customers.
If your employer doesn’t offer VPN services for employees while working at home, it may be time to suggest this to the IT department to help keep company information safe across the board. The last thing anyone would want is for someone to unknowingly compromise company information, which then transfers to other documentation and data, creating a systemwide breach.
Bottom line – it doesn’t matter if the computer or mobile device is trusted, if the internet is being used in any way to transfer files or visit websites, the information can be traced and compromised – especially with a public Wi-Fi or hot spot. Starting out with the right protocols in place with a VPN can only make things a lot better, whether personally or professionally when using electronic devices.