Small and medium-sized businesses were hit the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. Without the resources or expertise to facilitate remote work for their employees, they often left themselves open to security nightmares. Lavanya Rathnam, in this article from April, compiled the best VPNs for SMBs, and the article’s usefulness made it a firm choice for one of our 20 Best of 2020.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) has altered our lives in more ways than we have ever imagined. Despite all its gloom, it has also taught us many new things and has opened new realms and possibilities for us. What seemed impossible almost a month or a year ago seems to be possible now and one such thing is the idea of working from home. Earlier, people had to go to an office to be productive, but this mindset has undergone a huge transformation as thousands of people must connect and work from home. Though there are downsides to remote work, there is no doubt that what has happened during the pandemic can lay the foundation for this new work culture in the future. Much of this has been possible due to technological advancements that make it convenient for people to connect to their corporate network from home and have meetings with colleagues, customers, and other stakeholders from the comfort of their couch. A key technology that has enabled a smooth transformation of this work culture is VPN. And for small businesses, VPNs are just as necessary as they are for enterprises. In this article, we will look at several VPN tools suitable for small businesses.
What is a VPN?
Though most of you probably know what a VPN is, let’s briefly touch on it to clarify. Virtual private networks, or VPN for short, is a secure connection that allows you to connect to another private/public network like the Internet or your company’s network. What makes these VPNs so effective is that they encrypt the data that you send and receive to your corporate network and this adds a layer of security and privacy.
In general, when you connect to a network, the connection is direct and open, which means anyone can pretty much see what you’re accessing and from where. While this is fine when you want to browse the news, it is not the best idea when you want to access sensitive information from your company. A VPN is like a tunnel that connects to a server and that server, in turn, communicates with the network to send and receive the information you want. This is how you get the additional layer of security and privacy.
Due to these benefits, many companies are using a VPN and this means the market is flooded with VPN services from different providers. So, how can you choose the one that best fits your needs?
How to choose a VPN tool for small businesses?
While the choice depends on your needs, here are some broad aspects to keep in mind while choosing a VPN service.
- Easy to set up and use
- Supports the OS versions and devices used by your employees
- Access to many servers
- High security and privacy
- Top-notch speed
Keeping these criteria in mind, we have come up with some of the best VPN services available in the market today that are perfect for small businesses.
Kerio Control with VPN from GFI is a top-notch VPN solution for small businesses as it is not only affordable but also comes packed with many features for easy usability and high security.
Some of the prominent features of this tool are:
- High availability: When the primary server crashes for any reason, the secondary servers jump into action right away to avoid any impact whatsoever to your work.
- Flexible: It works across different IT environments, so you can set it up the way you want.
- Firewall: It comes integrated with next-gen firewall capabilities such as intrusion detection to beef up your security.
- Easy to use: Set up and access doesn’t get easier than this as it works well on minimal configuration requirements.
- Reporting: It has advanced reporting tools to give a precise idea about every user’s activity and based on it, the organization can refine and implement traffic-shaping rules.
- Traffic prioritization: Monitors traffic and automatically routes them according to their importance. This means critical activities are never affected.
- Load balancing: It optimizes the load across multiple links and provides the fastest and most reliable VPN connection.
- Web-based console: You can handle all configurations, access controls, and administration through a simple and intuitive web-based console.
- Industry-standard filters: With advanced filters, you can block or allow access to more than 141 types of web content.
- Updated blacklist: Constantly updates the blocked IP addresses and adds a Snort-based behavior analysis to give the highest possible protection to users.
Due to these features, Kerio Control is rated 4.9/5 by independent reviewers and is a top choice among many small businesses today. Further, it offers a free three-month subscription with all functionality to help small businesses cope with the ramifications of COVID-19.
VyprVPN is a Swiss-based VPN service known for its speed, performance, and accessibility across different platforms. Chameleon protocol, a highlight of this tool, scrambles metadata to prevent deep packet inspection and in layman terms, this simply means your privacy is well protected.
The other features of this tool are:
- Supports many protocols such as OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, and PPTP.
- Has a 24/7 live support.
- This company owns its servers, so the connection is fast and highly reliable.
- Allows up to five simultaneous connections from different devices.
- Has advanced security features like high-end encryption and NAT firewall.
- Its apps are simple and easy to use.
- Highly secure as it comes with a kill switch to block all Internet traffic when VPN is disconnected.
These features make it a secure choice for small businesses.
CyberGhost is an affordable VPN service that comes with a ton of security features to enhance your organization’s security without compromising on accessibility and speed. It is based in Romania, a country known for its pro-privacy laws and is also exempt from many EU laws on data retention and surveillance.
Some of the important features of this VPN service are:
- It can support up to five devices per user, giving your employees the flexibility to connect from multiple devices.
- Supports advanced security features such as kill switch, P2P, DNS leak protection, and more.
- Uses HMAC MD5 for hash authentication.
- Doesn’t maintain logs, which gives you more privacy.
- Accepts bitcoins for payment.
- Offers automatic data compression to transfer large files.
- Has impressive speed and supports many operating systems and platforms.
These features make CyberGhost a good VPN service to safely access your organization’s content.
ExpressVPN is a well-known name in the VPN world and this popularity comes from the fact that it is extremely easy to use, secure, and comes with many intuitive features. With more than 160 servers across 94 countries, there is no dearth for speed or accessibility.
The prominent features of this tool are:
- Supports VPN tunneling, which means your employees can decide which traffic should go through a VPN and which can be used to access the Internet directly.
- Its network lock switch protects your data even if the VPN connection is disrupted and blocks all Internet traffic until it is restored.
- Connections are faster, thanks to encrypted DNS present on every server.
- It doesn’t log any identifiable activity or traffic data.
- Protects data using AES-256 encryption.
- Bypasses the throttling and buffering practices of ISPs.
These features make it a good VPN choice for any small business, even if it is on the expensive side.
NordVPN is another good service for small businesses, especially those that are on a shoestring budget. With 5,200 servers across 60 countries, this provider ensures excellent connectivity and access, regardless of the physical location of your employees.
The salient features of NordVPN are:
- It supports a wide range of platforms such as Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, Linux, and Android TV.
- There are no data caps or bandwidth limitations.
- Its military-grade encryption and kill switch protection ensure the highest levels of security and privacy.
- Accepts bitcoins for payments.
- It offers pre-configured router setups.
Though this service is not known for top speed, it is still a good value VPN for small businesses.
VPN tools for small businesses: A necessity in these uncertain times
VPN tools for small businesses have become a key tool during the coronavirus pandemic and we hope the above options help you to be productive and stay connected even during these uncertain times.
Featured image: Shutterstock
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