How to Protect Your Business Data on Windows with a VPN

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Data protection is one of the major talking points of our modern digital society. With a veritable sea of information floating in cyberspace and flowing through vast data centers, the need to safeguard your company information and that of your customers is ever-present. As for businesses, the surge in employee-owned smartphones and laptops suggest a heightened risk of data breaches, whether via compromised emails, SIM swaps, social media hacks or some other malfeasance. Using a VPN for Windows systems is a no-brainer if you’re serious about safeguarding your company’s data. Here’s why.

Windows: With Great Popularity Comes Serious Vulnerability

Where regular computers are concerned, Microsoft Windows continues to dominate the desktop operating system landscape, commanding a market share of 77.7%. As the most widely-used OS in the world, Windows is particularly vulnerable to data breaches, since bad actors are continually probing its weaknesses and exposing vulnerabilities.

Earlier this year, Microsoft announced a breach that affected one of its customer databases and exposed 250 million records collected over a 14-year period. Moving to assure the public that the “issue was specific to an internal database used for support case analytics and does not represent an exposure of our commercial cloud services,” the company nonetheless faced a barrage of criticism and doubtless caused some business operators to reassess their security.

Just last month, Microsoft also warned of a 17-year-old DNS server vulnerability that could allow attackers to remotely execute code on Windows servers and breach infrastructure. In that case, a patch was quickly released but the suits were once more scrambling to perform damage-limitation.

Be Proactive to Build a Fortress Around Your Data

There’s no reason for business to ditch Windows on account of security concerns. Rather, prudent and proactive steps should be taken to ensure the security of your business data. That means installing updates and patches, whitelisting applications, implementing two-factor authentication (2FA), introducing file-level auditing to identify improper access, deploying antivirus software and, importantly, using a VPN that adds an extra layer of security. In doing so, you’ll build a fortress around your data.

Virtual private networks, commonly used by everyday consumers to access geo-blocked sites and anonymize themselves when browsing online, have emerged as a valuable cybersecurity tool for businesses. VPNs prevent information being exposed to the wider internet by sending data via an encrypted tunnel to a remote server. By encrypting all traffic in this way, businesses can be assured that all data is safe – even if the connection is intercepted.

With the risk of data breaches likely to be higher given the number of employees working from home or connecting their Windows devices to unsafe public wifi, mandating VPN use among your employees, executives, developers and marketers is the best thing you can do to protect valuable company data. Some VPNs even offer DNS-leak protection and a kill switch, meaning the user’s anonymity is protected even if the connection is compromised. Managers can also turn on content filtering, meaning certain content is restricted on employees’ network connections.

Navigating the New Normal

Some companies may be wondering “Why now?” If their Windows operating system has yet to suffer a breach, perhaps it’s best to observe the adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But with the coronavirus pandemic having increased the use of virtual desktops and web-based applications, not to mention video conferences and group chats, cyberthreats are proliferating. With many businesses already having seen their revenues fall, a successful cybercrime could sound the death knell for many SMEs.

As businesses navigate the so-called New Normal, one thing remains the same: the need for robust security. VPNs are perhaps the single best tool companies can use to grant remote workers access to company resources without compromising business key information.

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John is a serial entrepreneur and writer who is passionate about helping small businesses launch and grow. His work has been featured in Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, and Forbes.