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Engage a VPN to Keep Your Business to Yourself

Posted by Neil
Feb 21, 2017

Engage a VPNIf you’re using someone else’s internet access for work, it’s best to play it safe and enable a Virtual Private Network to cloak your activities online.

Public Wi-Fi is everywhere these days and often it’s free, in the hope that you’ll stick around and buy another coffee while you check your email. Using someone else’s Wi-Fi is certainly convenient, especially if you’re stuck with a low monthly mobile data limit, but there’s a risk if you can’t personally vouch for the security of the network.

Who is to say that the “Free Wi-Fi” network at your local coffee shop is actually run by the shop? What if it’s actually run by the person sitting behind you, using their computer or mobile device to create a spoof network in the hope that you’ll connect so they can snoop on your online activities?

Even if the Wi-Fi network is legit, who is to say that it hasn’t been infiltrated by someone looking to lurk in the background and eavesdrop? The barista might make a great chai latte, but do you trust their wireless network security skills?

If you have access to mobile broadband while you’re out and about then it’s generally a safer bet than using someone else’s Wi-Fi network, plus chances are your 4G mobile connection is faster than the free Wi-Fi network.

If you really must use public Wi-Fi, you can reduce the risk by running a Virtual Private Network to create a digital cone of silence.

A VPN connection creates an encrypted tunnel from your computer, smartphone or tablet, out through the Wi-Fi hotspot to the VPN server. This encrypted tunnel stops others monitoring your online activities, whether it’s other people on the Wi-Fi network, the network operator or even the Internet Service Provider.

Practically every computer, smartphone and tablet has built-in VPN software, but it doesn’t work out of the box. You need to create an account with a VPN provider and then enter your login details into the VPN client on your device.

You’ll find a wide range of free and paid VPN providers but, as with most things in life, you get what you pay for. Paid VPN services tend to offer faster connections along with more connection points around the world – you should always use the closest server to ensure you get the most reliable connection.

Alternatively, you might run a VPN server in your office and let your staff connect remotely. One advantage of this is that their internet traffic is protected from the device all the way back to your office, instead of just to the VPN server in the cloud. Another advantage is that you can configure it so that staff connecting remotely via the office VPN can access in-house servers and systems that aren’t available over the internet, just as if they were sitting at their desk.

You can’t be too careful these days when it comes to online security. Ensuring your people use a Virtual Private Network when accessing the internet away from the office helps ensure that your business secrets stay secret.

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