With the average cost of a data breach to a US company reaching $7.3 million, data security is now more than ever important. Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) provides an additional layer of security for many online activities from social and recreational to financial and business interests.
In addition to the increasing number of scams and threats online, there is a growing threat that personal data could be stolen and sold to other parties as more information about clients is gathered by businesses and financial institutions.
This, in turn, decreases customer confidence in a company. Investing in a VPN that encrypts information sent over the web ensures that data is not intercepted or decoded protecting the privacy of clients and ensuring that businesses are reliable and trustworthy.
Increased Internet Penetration and Online Threats: Risk Factors for Data Security
There are 4.021 billion internet users in the world in 2018 with the average person spending 6 hours a day using internet-powered devices and gadgets. The global average of internet penetration is 53% with the highest access in Northern Europe, Western Europe, and North America according to the 2018 Global Digital Report.
As more people spend more time online, the threat of data breach also increases for both users and businesses. Most of these online crimes are committed for financial gains, although some are done for fun or as pranks. It remains clear that web-based crimes are increasing and every second, there are 57 records stolen and over 4 million a day are compromised (Breach Level Index).
In fact, 2017 was a bumper year for hackers and cyber thieves with a fair number of data breaches including the Equifax, Kaspersky and Whole Foods leaks.
These incidents not only compromised personal details but also passwords, financial info, and credit card details. To demonstrate, the Equifax breach affected 147.9 million people out of which 209,000 had their credit card details exposed and 182,000 consumers had personal identifying information on dispute documents revealed.
The breach cost the company a whopping $4 billion in stock value losses not to mention lost business, litigations, crisis resolution, and diminished customer confidence.
VPN Protects Businesses and Financial Enterprises
Given the rise of crimes and frauds committed online, businesses and organizations recognize that their security practices are poor.
To mitigate the impact of data breaches, using a trustworthy Virtual Private Network (VPN) can reduce the chances of compromising critical information as transactions are done on the web. It shields sensitive data and information that might be vulnerable to hacking while in transit. The use of a VPN is extremely helpful for those who rely on public networks for their hotspot connections.
For example, a lending company’s ability to protect its customers’ data is enhanced using the VPN. It is a secure network that clients use when they log in to the company’s website.
The information that a user types in or extracts is sent through a safe channel. The VPN acts as a relay between the internet and the lender’s computer so that no one can see what is being transmitted. Even if something is intercepted by hackers, that data is meaningless as it is encrypted. Of the 9 million plus records stolen since 2013, only 4% were ‘secure breaches’ where data was encrypted making it useless for the hackers or thieves.
This does not mean that data encryption should only occur while it is being transmitted. Whether information is stored for a short or long period, it must be encrypted for protection.
Having complete control over the storage and encryption of data is crucial in preventing theft and breaches. Ensuring that encryption is solid as well as keeping the decryption key is effective in safeguarding information.
VPNs’ Aditional Benefits For Businesses and Clients
The use of a VPN not only protects sensitive data, it is also expedient in ensuring the safety of communication among employees and even those who are in the field.
Having a VPN that workers can use as a safe channel to communicate with the main office reduces the risk of delicate data falling in the wrong hands. Hence, a VPN is also a tool to secure communication for both employees and customers by encrypting information and even day-to-day chatter online.
Even a café or restaurant owner ensures the privacy of customers using its public Wi-Fi if it is secured by a VPN.
On top of anti-virus software and firewalls, encrypting data by using a VPN is an important security strategy to protect a business, its employees and customers.
Strong data encryption is essential to prevent data loss or theft that could cost a business lot of money and reduce/lose confidence among its clients. At the end of the day, data encryption is not only something that needs to be done to comply with regulations, it should be part of a good and ethical business practice.