We live in the Age of Data, and all small businesses need to realize what this means for security. If companies fail to understand how to protect their own and customers’ data, the results can be fatal. Take Yahoo for example. In 2013, the tech company “lost” 3 billion customer records to cyber-criminals. A couple of years later, Verizon snapped up the once-massive search and email operator for a bargain-basement price.

Poor data security cost Yahoo dearly, and the problems are even more serious for small businesses. However, we’ll also discuss how to avoid data disasters by choosing the best VPN for small business. But before we get there, let’s lay out some of the reasons why your small enterprise might want to renovate its data protection practices.

1. Data security and reputation are inseparable

Reputation really matters for small businesses. If you’re working in a closely-knit sector, information can spread quickly via word of mouth and social networks. Companies that were squeaky clean one moment can suddenly fund themselves shunned by all of their customers if rumors start to swirl.

Data protection breaches are one of the most common reasons for sudden reputational damage. According to some statistics, 60% of companies that are targeted by cyber attackers go out of business within a couple of years.

Larger businesses can absorb the blow of betraying their customers, but that’s rarely the case for SMEs. If your systems are breached and data leaks into the Dark Web, you won’t be in a position to pay compensation or rebuild your reputation. When trust evaporates, it’s usually gone for good.

2. Data breaches are expensive

Data breaches are expensive

Aside from the massive cost of reputational damage, poor data security is actually more expensive than choosing to start VPN business plans or fine tune your network systems to filter out malware.

According to the National Cyber Security Alliance, companies have to spend an average of $690,000 following cyber-attacks.

When you look at the bigger picture, the cost of poor security is vast. Estimates for the cost of cyber-attacks to the US economy range from $57 billion to $108 billion. Either way you look at it, that’s a lot of money that companies (particularly small businesses) shouldn’t have to lose.

3. Improving data security has wider benefits

While poor data security has immediate financial penalties, small businesses often fail to appreciate the upsides of beefing up their data practices. In almost all cases, companies that integrate good security are generally superior to those that don’t.

When you bring in VPNs, rigorous employee training, tight protocols for remote working, proper data storage systems, and audit trails for security checks, the knowledge and experience gained has a knock-on effect. It spills across the company, leveling up staff members and making your IT systems more efficient.

Part of this is due to a change of emphasis. Companies which prioritize data security are often more focused on serving customers by protecting their data, and have a tighter emphasis on planning and staff engagement. They don’t let things drift until disaster strikes. Because they are proactively managing risks, these companies are more responsive and effective in a whole host of areas.

How can you improve your data security? Some easy solutions for small businesses

Improve your data security

All of the above reasons should provide enough incentives to improve the way your business handles data. But turning motivation into reality isn’t always easy. From the start of the process, data security can seem daunting. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

The best place to start is by investing in a reliable Virtual Private Network (VPN) like ExpressVPN or NordVPN for business. These tools are fundamental to any effective small business solutions, so we’ll need to look at them in more detail.

Bring in the best VPN for small business security – you won’t regret it

Why are VPNs so important for small businesses with data security worries? Actually, there are a number of reasons:

1. They facilitate safe remote working – Many small businesses would like to allow staff to work remotely. For instance, sales organizations can benefit hugely from providing field teams with point of sale technology and access to sales databases. VPNs allow remote workers to connect to central offices securely. Because they encrypt data safely, VPNs ensure that confidential data remains private from end-to-end, allowing staff to be much more flexible when connecting to HQ.

2. All communications are more secure – Remote workers aren’t the only beneficiaries of the encryption offered by VPNs. The whole organization can benefit from a VPN shield, ensuring that accounting information won’t leak when transmitted to and from third party portals. Any emails from customers will remain confidential, and planning documents can be stored behind impregnable walls, ensuring that competitors can’t get a headstart on what your company intends to do next.

3. IT protection – VPNs don’t just provide privacy via encryption. They also act as an effective protection against many forms of malware and cyber-crime. For instance, if your connections are all anonymized, it’s much tougher for attackers to mount man-in-the-middle attacks which harvest customer payment details.

4. Value – The alternatives to VPNs are often much more expensive than the off the shelf VPN cost for business customers. Bringing in contractors to install bespoke private networks is much more expensive and delivers few benefits that you won’t get when you start VPN business plans. And, as noted earlier, the cost of not having data protection systems can be huge.

How to choose the best VPN for small business needs

small business

As you can see, there are very good reasons to install a VPN to protect your small business. But that still leaves the implementation phase. Thankfully, if you choose the right VPN, setting up strong data protection systems should be simple.

Here are some things to look for when making your VPN decision:

1. Customer support – This is absolutely crucial. Small businesses all have different structures and needs, and it can take time to find the ideal VPN setup. With providers like NordVPN for business, you’ll be assigned a dedicated account manager to handle all of your needs.

2. Think twice about free VPN solutions for small business organizations – While you don’t want to pay over the odds for a small business VPN, free VPN solutions for small business customers are generally to be avoided. Don’t cut corners here. Free VPNs tend to be much less watertight and can collect information from you and your customers. So when you calculate the VPN cost for business operations, bear that in mind.

3. Does it scale? – Hopefully, as your business thrives, it will grow. When it does, your VPN will have to grow too, adding more IPs and devices. Some VPNs might seem attractive at first, but charge more as you expand. Others offer discounts for extra connections, knowing that small businesses don’t stand still. They are the ones to choose.

4. Solid encryption – Always go for a VPN with “military-grade” or 256 bit AES encryption, and a wide choice of protocols as well. Anything less is playing with fire.

Make the right choice and keep your data security as tight as possible

Small businesses cannot afford to economize when it comes to data protection. Customers won’t tolerate data breaches, and companies which fail to invest in protective measures will eventually be found out.

So, remove the risk from the equation. Do a little research about the right VPN cost for business, and make a selection from the VPN elite. As competitors suffer data catastrophes and fall by the wayside, you won’t regret spending more to ensure total security.