Today, when you hear the word data, you may automatically connect it with security breach and digital identity theft. It is not a surprise that executives and consumers alike are wary about online security and privacy. But as a technology startup, our organization is quite stable and confident about our internal and external data. We can probably attribute it to our shaky yet insightful beginning. Today, I’d like to share with you the story of how we found one of our trusted cybersecurity tools, the virtual private network or VPN.
Starting out is crucial
When we were just starting out, members of our team were mobile for the most part. Some worked at coffee shops near their homes. Others traveled frequently and found themselves sending files using public WiFis at airports. In this case, we wanted to ensure that our data channels would not be compromised. Installing a VPN was a smart thing to do. So we looked for a client that users can set up themselves.
Research comes first
Because we were stoked to have found the perfect tool for establishing secure connections, we signed up for the first client that we could afford. It was only after hiring an Information Technology (IT) consultant that we learned about the different security protocols, such as the IP Security (IPSec) and Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP). If we had done more serious research, we would have also come across with e-commerce’s favorite combination: Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS).
Not all VPNs are created equal
For our next VPN, we saw to it that we listed down the features we wanted. Tight security topped the requirements. User-friendliness was also important as our roaming workers needed to tinker with the settings from time to time. To become globally competitive, we looked for a provider that could let us access geo-restricted websites. Further, we already knew better than to leave out the server network size factor.
Real reviews are a gem
Once we were done building our list, we started gathering reviews from our peers and online. Do this before checking out the individual VPN clients. Getting third-party information about your target providers will help you see things from the user’s perspective. After compiling and looking at a sizable amount of reviews, our IT consultant was down to two options: Open VPN and HideMyAss. Ultimately, it was the flexibility that came with HideMyAss’ vast network of servers that won us over.
Employees are frontliners in cybersecurity
After installing our new VPN, we asked the IT team to hold a crash course on cybersecurity for our employees. This is a crucial step that we did not dare to skip. We did not want to downplay the vulnerability that small and medium-size businesses were facing in today’s digital landscape. Together with my co-founders, I believed it was our duty to enable and equip our workers in this area.
Money should not be a problem
As you can see, our history of using VPN included a trial-and-error phase. At that point, we were just looking for free or the most affordable option out there. However, as with any tool or technology, you get what you paid for. Investing in a highly-secured VPN client does not have to hurt your pocket. But at the same time, signing up for a freemium service can be wiser than relying on freeware. There is no such thing as free lunch. Everything comes with a price, such as bad service or unreliable network servers.
Strategic implementation is key
VPNs represent only one aspect of cybersecurity. They have their limitations as a tool. Our company needed a strategy and applied other tactics to strengthen data and privacy protection. First, we provided our IT team with the freedom and flexibility to develop a game plan. That meant allocating budget not just for a VPN client but also for tools and technologies to control network access, secure applications, and prevent data loss. Next, as mentioned earlier, we enlisted the cooperation of our employees. After all, they are at the forefront of this battle against online thieves and attackers.
At the end of the day, cybersecurity is an issue that affects the company as a whole. So everyone is assigned with duties and responsibilities to make our strategy work.
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