Cutting costs have become imperative for small businesses to keep the profits steady. Large businesses usually adopt strategies that allow them to spend more and earn more. In the overall picture, extra spending usually brings in extra profits. But we wish the same could be said for small business enterprises.
Small businesses typically run on a short term budget, and revenue is more dependent on the input from a small number of employees. When one considers the overhead cost of hiring and maintaining in-house employees, revenue and consistent profits could be a problem for small business owners. Initially, it proved to a major hurdle, but over the past few years, small business owners are now turning to the internet to help them cut costs.
One of the major advantages of the internet and networking technologies is that it is now possible to hire mobile workers or allow employees to work from home. Increasing use of the internet has allowed employees, and even freelancers for that matter, to work directly from their home and use company resources whenever they want, wherever they want.
There are many upsides for small businesses to use existing network technologies to keep their employees connected, and lower overhead cost is one among them. Lower input costs will certainly mean a higher figure in terms of earnings, which is indeed the ultimate aim for any business model.
Internet has also helped small businesses to expand to new horizons without much hardship. It would be difficult for small business owners to coordinate different satellite offices by being physically present in each one of them.
However, by connecting all existing establishments to a main central network location, small business owners or managers can micromanage offices at their own convenience. This has also helped employees or managers tend to important and pressing needs while they are away on vacation, thereby helping small businesses run efficiently in the absence of key people.
The advantages or utilizing the internet are aplenty. But technologies and freedom does tend to bring out the best and worst. The worst in this context can adversely affect small businesses. As we all know, internet contains the most precarious threats that are damaging to all kinds of information, both personal as well as professional.
Small businesses possess sensitive information and unique strategies that can prove to be damaging to the company if third parties get hold of it. Viruses, malware, hackers, data mining agents and Government surveillance programs are the main culprits that steal and disclose sensitive information from unsuspecting users.
Even ISPs and free Wi-Fi hotspots are known to actively indulge in data mining and theft, which leads to billions of dollars loss on an annual basis. Add this to the extremely thin margin that small businesses work on, and you get the bigger picture.
It is true that small business enterprises can rarely take the risk of disclosing sensitive information or face threat of other professional information theft. That is why it becomes essential for small businesses to take precautions to protect information by securing the flow of information between the company network and its employees.
VPN For Small Business
There are several encryption technologies available today, but when it comes to complete security, anonymity and flexibility, it would be the best option to choose VPN for small business enterprises.
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, and is essentially a network of computers connected to each other over the internet through a secure channel. Dedicated VPN service providers offer the convenience of hosting virtual servers that transmits encrypted data (data encrypted at the device level) to offer unmatched security and privacy.
This technology is highly advantageous for small businesses, which are inclined to employ the services of remote employees or satellite offices. By utilizing a VPN for small business, a business owner can help remote workers to securely connect to the company’s network and utilize the company’s resources without actually being physically present in the office premises.
VPN can help change the originating IP address; therefore, it lends anonymity and privacy to employees working from insecure network locations. Business owners and employees can also use VPN technologies to connect to their office network while on the move, especially for those who use modern day smartphones and tablets in conjunction with Wi-Fi Hotspots.
How Does VPN For Small Business Work?
In simple terms, theconsists of two parts. The Network Access Server is the main central server that connects all the devices together. The devices include company servers, office computers, remote computers and other devices that share information in a local network through the public network such as the internet.
The second part is the actual software that allows remote devices (computer, smartphones or tablets used by remote employees/owners) to connect to the Network Access Server using security authentication.
In what may seem like a complex process, the flow of data is encrypted and access to a VPN is restricted to users who have valid software and authentication codes. All the work is done by a VPN service provider, and the small business as well as its employees will only have to download dedicated terminals as well as possess valid authentication credentials to ensure that they remain connected through a secure channel.
Most mainstream VPN service providers offer specifically tailored VPN for small business services that are typically aimed at offering the maximum VPN resources for the least cost.
However, there are different VPN protocols that support different types of security and accessibility options. Let us take a look at the most common VPN protocols available for small businesses.
IPSec VPN For Small Business
IPSec VPN is perhaps the most secure VPN for small business. It offers a two-step authentication procedure to ensure that the network can only be accessed by authorized personnel. First, there is the VPN termination device that is hosted on the company network.
This VPN termination device is configured with a set of codes or settings that is unique to the company and its network. A remote worker or employee is offered standalone VPN software that is configured with the exact settings as allowed by the VPN termination device.
In case there is a mismatch between the codes/specification of the VPN termination device at the office network and the settings of the remote VPN software, access to the company’s network will be blocked.
Once there is a valid match between the settings of the two terminals, the remote user will then be required to enter authentication codes (a username and password) as the second step of authentication procedure. Valid entry of these parameters will then grant remote employees unrestricted access to the company’s network.
IPSec VPN tunneling protocol encrypts all incoming and outgoing data from the remote user’s device, and is therefore, the best secure option of VPN for small business.
SSL VPN For Small Business
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is simpler than IPSec, but is also less secure than IPSec. However, it is secure in its own right, albeit the authentication is a one-step process. SSL VPN makes use of the browser to create a secure connection. There is no need for a dedicated terminal or software, as the SSL connection is initiated at the browser level.
All the remote user has to do is enter the destination URL into the web browser and log into the website using the user credentials assigned to them. It must be mentioned that SSL VPN tunnel encryption will only work for browser related traffic, and all other applications running in the background will connect to the network without encryption.
PPTP & L2TP VPN For Small Business
PPTP stands for Point-To-Point Tunneling Protocol, while L2TP stands for Layer Two Tunneling Protocol. L2TP is just an extension of the PPTP. PPTP is a proprietary secure tunneling protocol introduced by Microsoft, and is still up and running to this day.
While the PPTP can be used to create a secure tunnel in wide area networks, it is easier to break the encryption, and is generally less secure than both IPSec and SSL VPN for small business. VPN service providers do offer PPTP protocols for its users, but generally promote IPSec or SSL VPN for small businesses.
How To Choose The Best VPN For Small Business
Choosing the best VPN for small business depends on your specific requirements and your budget. First of all, having a clear idea of your requirements is of utmost priority to ensure that you get the maximum benefit from your VPN. For example, it might be sufficient for small businesses to only utilize SSL protocol to grant website level access for clients.
On the other hand, it might be imperative for the company to offer complete access to its remote employees, which requires the company to employ IPSec VPN protocol. In other cases, the small business might be required to employ both types of tunneling protocols to organize the workplace.
Once you have a basic idea of your requirements, you have to run a cost analysis. First of all, try to get cost estimates and official quotations from different VPN service providers. Don’t stick to a VPN service provider just because they offered an unbelievably low price on their VPN services. Get as many quotations as possible.
Weigh the cost to features and benefits of all VPN service providers and only choose the VPN service provider that offers the maximum number of VPN features at a reasonable rate.
Even then, you have to consider the cost of VPN and compare it to the actual cost saved by hiring remote employees. There is no advantage to hiring a remote employee and utilizing the VPN at the same time if the cost is more than actually hiring an in-house employee. Nothing beats having employees work from a dedicated office, and the only visible attraction to hiring off-site workers is to cut costs and improve employee morale.
You can browse through our list of thoroughly reviewed VPN companies and choose the one that suits your requirements the best. Our list consists of the top VPN providers that are both reviewed by our expert reviewers as well as approved by our knowledgeable readers through impeccable customer reviews. A VPN for small business is always a great investment, which allows you to secure your sensitive data and help your network remain anonymous and private.