A virtual private network (VPN) can create a secure, encrypted connection between a device accessing information on a business network, even when that device’s connection is not necessarily secure. As an increasing number of employees work remotely and access company systems from various unsecured networks—like the Wi-Fi at the local coffee shop—the cyber security risk to businesses is higher than ever. A VPN can mitigate these issues, but small businesses may struggle with knowing how to choose the right VPN for their use cases.
How to Choose the Right VPN for Your SMB
There are many, many VPN solutions available, some of which are designed for personal use and others that offer a wide range of more robust options for businesses. Understanding how to choose the right VPN for your needs is critical to getting the service and protection desired at a price point that makes sense and provides value.
When evaluating VPN business solutions, small- and medium-sized business operators should consider the company’s needs and uses for a VPN, the features of various VPN providers, and the dangers of using a free VPN.
Evaluate Remote Access VPN Solutions Based on Your Business Needs
Before you begin evaluating VPN business solutions, it is important to establish your company’s needs and use cases. Do you need a solution that simply provides remote access to internal documents, applications, and systems? Or do you also need to connect multiple physical worksites to one another? How much administrative control do you want to have over user access and permissions, and does your business have the capacity to manage a more robust system?
In addition to answering these questions, business owners and operators should consider the following internal elements related to their intended use of VPN business solutions:
- What VPN and other features are must-haves?
- What features that are not requirements would be desirable, if available?
- What devices and platforms does the VPN need to accommodate?
- How many devices or users need access?
- Should your VPN be managed internally or externally?
- What locations do you need to accommodate?
- What price range and payment options will work for you?
Other factors, such as the size of your business and the industry you are in, may raise additional questions or issues that should be addressed as you decide how to choose the right VPN.
Features of VPN Business Solutions
Once you understand your needs and have answered the questions above, the next step is to evaluate the features available from several respected VPN providers or services. Some areas to consider include the following:
- Is the provider primarily focused on business or personal VPN services?
- Will you have a dedicated IP address?
- Will you have your own VPN hardware?
- How is the provider rated for speed and reliability?
- What are the service’s security practices and features (logging policy, multifactor authentication, kill switch, etc.)?
- What is the platform’s capacity regarding number of connections and distance?
- What devices and platforms are supported?
- How easy is the system to use?
- Is the product legal in the geographic areas where you require services?
Comparing these features to your company’s needs while vetting the provider thoroughly will help ensure that you choose the best VPN service or solution for your business goals without paying for more than you need or leaving out critical elements.
A Note on the Disadvantages of Free VPNs
A word of warning on the dangers of using a free VPN, especially for business purposes: when a service like this is provided at no charge, it is wise to consider how the company providing the service makes its money. Often, these providers receive income from advertisers or the sale of the personal information of users. Additionally, or alternatively, the provider may use unreliable third-party components that introduce potential threats or may be under questionable ownership.
The disadvantages of free VPN use are significant even for personal use; when it comes to protecting your business, it is smart to go with a more trusted business VPN solution.
How to Choose the Right VPN
Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer when considering how to choose the right VPN for your business. However, evaluating your needs and vetting the features and reputation of several providers and services will allow you to choose a VPN solution that offers the protection you and your employees need at a price point that suits your budget.