A VPN is an encrypted tunnel for your internet traffic that goes through the open internet, often from your home office or coffee shop to your work network at the office. You can connect across a VPN no matter what network you’re on and “appear” to be sitting at your desk at work using all the resources you could if you actually were there.
It’s called a virtual private network because it creates your own personal tunnel no one else can access. If all your team members are working remotely from their home offices, this is how you can work as a virtual team without all being at the main office, or gathered together in some other location. Due to COVID-19, this is a newly found desire – even a requirement – for many right now.
If you’re newly working from home because of the COVID-19 outbreak, you probably have to learn some new tools and tricks very quickly now. Here we look at virtual private network (VPN) technology. Later this week, we’ll dive into other security tools such as Two-Factor Authentication (2FA, or Multi-Factor Authentication – MFA).
Do I need to set up a VPN?
To make such VPN connections, you need to initially set up both ends of that connection – the one on your laptop or home desktop, and the one in the main office. Sometimes, if you have an IT department, they’ll tell you what app to download to your personal device(s) and then give you some VPN credentials for your specific situation – problem solved. Once you install that app and configure it, you can click a button and the link will establish itself and let you know you’re connected.
If you don’t have an IT department, you might have to set up your own VPN connections. Don’t worry, it’s not as daunting as you might think.
Many business-class routers (some under US$100), and some small office/home office (SOHO) ones, have built-in VPN capability, so cost shouldn’t be an issue. In fact, you may already have such a device, so you’ll only need to configure it!
If you work at a small to medium size business, or happen to own one, Perimeter 81 is the best business VPN available. It's the one we recommend to look at for a variety of reasons, including the company's willingness to customize plans for your needs. There is, however, a five person minimum for teams, so if you don't have five employees this may not be the best for you.
Perimeter 81's services are all based in the cloud, which means scaling up and down is super simple and more affordable for your business. You don't need to worry about changing out hardware or anything like that, it's all handled on Permiter's side. There are three different plan options to pick from, with prices starting at just $10 per month for each team member.
Unlike some other business software, Perimeter 81 has a great app that's available on a variety of different devices to ensure maximum compatibility. You can use it on Windows, Mac, Linux, Chromebook, iOS, and Android. Permiter 81 has tight security protocols and uses OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP, and PPTP backed by WireGuard connector. There's an automatic Wi-Fi security and it offers a software-defined perimeter (SDP) that limits network access via a system control.
The two-factor authentication is both easy to use and reliable. It works well whether you are using a mobile device connected to a public network or your home PC connected to your network.
Should you run into any issues while using Perimeter 81 you'll be happy to hear that the company offers great support, and if you are unhappy with the purchase you have a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Much like Perimeter 81, Encrypt.me can be scaled based upon the needs of your business so that you're always paying for what you are actually using. What sets it apart, though, is that the minimum number of team members required for the business plan is only two, and the company allows you to use it on an unlimited number of devices for each account. This is great for those who are juggling between their phone, tablet, and PC during the day to get things done.
Encrypt.me is available on all the major platforms, including Windows, Mac, iPhone, Android, and even Amazon. All you have to do is download the app and walk through the set up procedure, and you'll be good to go.
On the security front, Encrypt.me offers all the standard stuff you'd expect from a VPN along with a few other features that are nice to have. Some of them include private endpoints, an Auto-Secure feature, DNS protection, and more. This will make it easy for employees to remotely connect to the information they need while not in the office.
Something worth noting is that Encrypt.me does keep some session logs, which is something most other VPN providers are not doing these days. This isn't to say it's monitoring your activities or anything, just that it does have records of who is connecting, and when.
Pricing starts at $15.98 per month, and like we previously mentioned you do need two team members to get started with this. If you're looking for an option to try out in the short-term while your employees are working from home, this may be the way to go.
ExpressVPN is our best VPN pick on the consumer side, and while the company doesn't offer a specific "business plan," that doesn't mean it can't be a great pick for some situations. If you're running a small business, or happen to be self-employed and want to protect yourself, ExpressVPN can do great things for you. It does have a maximum of five devices that can be connected to each account at one time, which is less than some other providers.
The ExpressVPN app works on all major platforms, including Android, iOS, Mac, Windows, Fire TV, Chromebooks, Nook, Firefox, Chrome, and more. It's super easy to set up, and connecting to the VPN is as simple as clicking one button once you get started.
By default, ExpressVPN offers great encryption, split tunneling, and operates with a very clear no-logging policy. There are dedicated DNS servers available, and while you may pay a bit more than some other consumer VPN options to use ExpressVPN, it's worth every penny.
Right now, if you sign up for the 12-month plan you can save 49% on the purchase and score an extra three months of service at no cost to you. ExpressVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee as well, so there's no risk in trying it out today.
On the consumer side, NordVPN has always been a popular choice, and the company hopes to achieve the same on the business side with NordVPN Teams. Like other options, NordVPN Teams can be customized to meet your needs, though there is a minimum of five users to get started.
What sets NordVPN Teams apart from the rest is that it offers a double encryption, which is something that other companies are simply not offering. This means that if someone were to be able to get their hands on what you were doing, there's no possible chance that they could figure out what was actually taking place, and instead it would all just be a jumbled mess. In addition, Nord offers a kill switch that helps keep your sessions secure, even if your connection drops out for some reason.
NordVPN has a strict no-logging policy, and when you sign up for a business account you actually get a dedicated business VPN server. This is key because it offers a dedicated IP address for your team to connect to so they can access the sensitive documents that they need for work.
Pricing is done on a per-company basis, which means that you'll need to reach out to NordVPN via a support form to get started
Work from home: How to set up a VPN. Best Business VPN Services 2020. https://t.co/YwJw8Hs71J #vpn #Security #privacy #homeofice #workingfromhome #workingfromhometips #workingremotely #workingtogether #WorkingFromHomeLife pic.twitter.com/yuK9P8rCzw— 🔝 𝔼𝕦𝕣𝕠 𝔹𝕦𝕤𝕚𝕟𝕖𝕤𝕤 💫 (@HUBbusiness) March 19, 2020
If speed is what you are looking for in a business VPN, you'll want to look no further than VyprVPN. The company manages all of its own servers, and when you start to check out the performance of them you'll understand why that is important. In testing, we've noticed that using VyprVPN could actually provide better download speeds for some people than their standard connection could without using a VPN.
In terms of security features to match the speed, VyprVPN offers OpenVPN support, NAT Firewall, and its own Chameleon technology that helps add an extra layer of security to the mix. There is also 24/7 support in case you run into any issues while using the VPN, which is great since odds are most of your employees will be new to using a VPN.
The company doesn't give as much information publicly about its business VPN plans as some of the others, but there is a bit we do know. You can sign up for a Business or Business Cloud package, with prices starting at $299 or $349 for the year respectively. You'll need to reach out to VyprVPN customer support to get the exact details based on your business' needs, though the company does offer a free trial which is something you should definitely take advantage of.