Whether you rely on public networks at meetings, share an Internet connection at your office, or are geographically forced to use a questionable Internet provider, securing your data and communications is more important than ever. For starters, the network owner may require you to sign in, allowing them to track your activities and possibly see more information than you realize. As a result, sensitive information can end up in the wrong hands, compromising the business’ security posture.
Another potential consequence is the breach of bank accounts, credit card accounts, or business resources from man-in-the-middle attacks or packet sniffing. These issues can lead to huge losses for any business. Any time a team member connects to a public, unknown, or insecure network, the business may be facing a risk. Using a secure VPN is a great way to reduce this risk. VPN stands for “Virtual Private Network” and acts as a secure connection from your computer to a trusted remote network. It’s a virtual tunnel that can’t be sniffed or tracked on a public network, allowing you to conduct your operations away from prying eyes. Even so, all VPN’s are not created equal and some are also not to be trusted. Here are 10 factors to consider when implementing a secure VPN.
THE 10 VPN DECISION FACTORS
1) Location of VPN Servers
The location of your VPN server is essential for a few reasons. For example, the greater the distance between your server and your location, the higher the latency. Latency in a network is the measure of delay between requesting data and receiving data back. That means longer wait times when clicking on links or sending emails. If you’re looking for a third-party VPN for privacy, make sure you connect to the nearest location offered. If you’re implementing a corporate remote access VPN, make sure you have a solid Internet connection to your firewall. Furthermore, you can also consider a VPN from the same place as the content your team needs to access to overcome geographic restrictions. If your work requires research from the UK, for example, find servers from that country.
Using free VPNs might be tempting, but they often deliver poor experiences. To start with, they can log you out of internet activities and are often chock-full of disruptive ads. On top of that, they frequently log your activities, which will negate the purpose entirely. You’re much better off investing in a paid platform. They come with various robust features, a larger number of servers, and configurations to bolster your security. Implementing a corporate VPN at your main or branch offices is simple and cost-effective as well. There are solutions that can meet any budget and use-case. Here at Hermetic Networks, we implement a fully secure cloud-based Cisco Meraki VPN at all of our client sites to ensure they can easily and securely access their business resources and keep their information protected while out in public.
3) Device Compatibility
Another detail you should consider is the compatibility of your VPN. In most cases, you need software that can work with several devices, such as your smartphone, laptop, and tablet. Otherwise, cross-platform work will suffer. Additionally, implementing a service that supports your business’ chosen two-factor authentication platform will further increase security.
4) VPN Capacity
Before choosing your VPN solution, make sure to determine the amount of data you can use or the throughput of your connection. That means if your operations warrant tons of online resources, you should pick a solution that supports considerable data allocation. If you have a large userbase that needs to share VPN resources simultaneously, installing the proper hardware and software will be critical in making the best decision.
5) Protocol Support
Protocols are rules that stipulate connections between the client (software on your device) and the server. There are different protocols, but the most widely used ones include PPTP, OpenVPN, IPSec, SSL, SSH, and SSTP. Each offers varying speeds and levels of security, both of which are vital to your company. Right out of the gate, though, never implement or use a PPTP VPN, as they are the oldest protocol and the least secure. OpenVPN is an open-source protocol and one of the safest options for enterprises. It runs on 256-bit encryption keys and advanced ciphers, offering robust protection against cyberattacks. Plus, it features excellent firewall compatibility. Here at Hermetic Networks, we implement secure cloud-based Cisco Meraki VPN solutions that include IPSec protocols, 256-bit encryption, single-sign on features, two-factor authentication, seamless deployment, and advanced monitoring capabilities. All provided at no additional cost to our clients.
6) Logging of VPN Traffic
VPNs log user data to streamline customer support and limit available connections. However, you need to consider what information they’re logging. In most cases, this includes session times and IP addresses. But some providers can also log your software, downloaded files, and web pages you visit. For corporate-owned VPN solutions, this is normal and expected, but for a third-party VPN provider, you want to limit the amount of information they gather as much as possible. When looking for a suitable VPN, be sure to read the data logging policy to determine the information the app will store. You should also verify the company is transparent and investigate how often information is shared – with advertisers, partners, and even authorities.
7) Availability of a Killswitch
No cybersecurity measure is fail proof – VPNs are no exception. Overloaded platforms can trigger IP leaks, interrupting your private connection and exposing your true address when online. To avoid this scenario, look for platforms with a built-in kill switch. It disrupts your devices’ access to the internet in case of IP leaks. The kill switch stops transfers of unencrypted information and can help prevent cybercriminals from obtaining your data.
Your VPN provider needs to roll out regular updates to ensure you can perform your operations safely and efficiently. If they don’t openly specify the update frequency on their webpage, find out when the last update was on your app store. It should give you a clue on how frequently the updates get sent out. The systems we use here at Hermetic Networks are regularly monitored and maintained by our highly skilled in-house staff. We manage updates on a regular schedule and ensure our client’s equipment is always running at peak performance and security capacity.
9) Central VPN Management
Centralized management enables you to control VPN distribution more easily, allowing you to manage access permissions and user accounts. Some of the best apps even feature gateway or role-based access management. It permits users to access only those segments of the network they need to perform their jobs. Another important consideration here is control from your console. IT administrators should have permission to open and delete accounts as well as check the devices linked to the platform. Lastly, your organization might benefit from VPNs with IP whitelisting. They allow administrators to approve the IP addresses of your enterprise to ensure only members with a verified IP can use corporate resources. This feature provides granular control over network accessibility.
10) Customer Support
Customer support might be the most significant factor. Your provider should be easy to contact through different portals, such as telephone, live chat, and email. With Hermetic Networks as your Managed Service Provider, your users can open a support ticket in as little as two clicks, not to mention live phone and fast on-site support. Easy accessibility lets you inform the VPN developer about various issues. For instance, they can help restore your network if it goes down and prevents unwanted exposure. Most client support teams are highly accessible, but make sure to verify this by reading customer reviews.
SAFEGUARD AGAINST CYBERATTACKS WITH A BULLETPROOF VPN
The digital world is rife with challenges, especially if your business uses public networks and wifi access points. Loss of data can happen at any time, which can give your competitors the upper hand and tarnish your reputation. That’s why implementing a secure VPN is one of the wisest investments you can make. To make the most of your service, find a system with dependable security features, customer support, and suitable configurations for your operations. You’ll also want to patch up any other cybersecurity vulnerabilities. And we can help you make that happen.
If you’d like a quick, non-salesy chat to discuss your cybersecurity and find out where you might have any potential risks, contact us today.