Protecting Your Business Content with a VPN

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djbaxter

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Free wifi seems to be everywhere these days - restaurants, coffee shops, airports, railway stations, department stores, even hospitals. But how safe are they?

The answer is not very safe at all. If you are accessing banking, investment accounts, private email, or any web sites with sensitive information, these free wifi services are not nearly secure enough. And if you are an entrepreneur, any business you conduct via wifi also requires a more secure connection, unless you are okay with the guy a few feet to your left being able to eavesdrop on your comminications.

So if you need to access sensitive websites or information while out and about and relying on free wifi, what do you do? You can install and use a Virtual Private Network, or VPN.

Protect Your Business Content with a VPN Service
by Ivan Widjaya, NoobPreneur.com
November 1, 2017

VPN works in such a way that the data you have can’t be decrypted while using any untrusted network. It’s not only essential, but also critical to your business.... A VPN keeps your data data safe by hiding your IP address and creating a direct and secure connection to the internet.... But doing research here is a must.
Start with a Google search for reviews and comparisons of various VPNs from reputable publications and choose one that suits your budget. They vary widely in price and features but most small businesses can find one which does the job for under $50 - $100 per year.

Read more...
 

Edvin

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Business benefits to offering free Wifi
According to signage industry 35% of people walking-by don't see your sign (can't find the source). So, providing free wifi acts like a "marketing impression" that lets the customers know you are there. Perhaps, you can provide free wifi in exchange for contact info for marketing purpose; but, I haven't come-up with a good strategy for my space.
It is good idea to put the public free wifi on a different network (i.e. VPN); so, that it doesn't compromise you business. This can also gives analytics to customer behavior so that you can provide more personalized service/marketing.
Dangers of Wifi
  • Easiest attack by a cracker (blackhat hacker) is to provide the public free wifi. This is a middle man attack that easily sees all traffic that is being routed from your device and has the tools to see everything (i.e. login/password to your bank)

  • Even connecting to reputable sources can be dangerous. Crackers use software to capture wifi signals. With enough time and data captured the software can identify the encryption key; thereby, making it possible for the cracker to listen to airway digital activity. Having a high encryption wifi security makes it more challenging for breaking the encryption key. VPN does provide another layer of security.
 

StartupDevon

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Be careful if you go looking for VPN reviews. They're a minefield because so many VPNs offer affiliate programs. It's impossible to know if you're looking at an honest review or someone's side hustle. That One Privacy Site has a nice objective comparison of features. They don't even link to the sites, so you can see they aren't getting paid to push any of them.

It's not perfect since a feature comparison doesn't capture the entire story, but it's nice knowing you're not being sold to one of these providers by the reviewer.
 

Edvin

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I want to add that the article talked about benefits of VPN with regards to WiFi; but, VPN can benefit your business even if you don't use WiFi. Here is why:
  • Someone might be listening to your internet traffic via network sniffer (neighbor, or ISP network). This is especially concerning if you are viewing customer or bank data on a hosted service provider.

  • Your ISP can throttle your connection speed based on content viewed.
    By using a VPN, they no longer have visibility to your content; thus, can't throttle it.
    Admittedly, this is usually the case with video streaming.
The fact is that we need to take a much more active role in protecting our customers' data than our own personal finance. A compromise in customer data will ultimately cost us more both in finances as well as loss in good-faith. Do you really want to be in a position to say "there is no such thing as bad publicity"?

So, how can we use VPN to protect our communication to the outside world?

This is the easy part. Get a VPN enabled router that sits between your equipment and your Internet Service Provider (ISP). Because all your devices connect to the router, all your communication is tunneled and encrypted.

I plan to obtain and flash a router to upgrades its firmware to DD-WRT, which transforms a mild-mannered router to super router with super powers. Not everyone is techie; so, you can get flashed router with such enterprise level functionality. In either case, you need someone technical to help you (or search the web for step-by-step guide). As for the wireless devices; you can either connect them to your VPN provider or to the router's VPN service.

P.S.
Base on the link from @StartupDevon the thatoneprivacysite table suggests that LiquidVPN might be a good option for US.
 
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