Businesses are increasingly reliant on the internet to generate leads, maintain social media profiles, and help employees with things like competitor intelligence and rapid data transfer. But not all corporations can afford sophisticated network security and dedicated teams to snuff out hacking attempts.
A VPN can quell such concerns to a considerable degree. Short for Virtual Private Network, a VPN encrypts and secures all the web traffic flowing through your device by routing it via an intermediary server. That means it’s very hard for nosy hackers to pry into confidential data.
VPNs help businesses safeguard themselves from cybercrime while also accounting for some other use cases such as access to public wifi. More on that later in this article.
Our list of the best VPNs for businesses is ranked on the following factors:
- Speed and stability
- Strong encryption protocols
- Number of simultaneous connections
- Apps for Android, iOS, Windows, and MacOS
SaferVPN operates over 400 servers in across 30 countries. That’s not bad but the important thing to consider is that there aren’t any locations in Latin America and just a handful in Africa and the Middle East. Europe and North America comprise the bulk of server options – including dedicated “streaming” servers in the US and UK which will give faster speeds.
There’s a specific product for businesses too – SaferVPN calls it the “Advanced Cloud VPN” – and it offers things like static IP addresses, private servers, and team member management, which is why it tops our list. If you sign up you’ll notice there’s a 30-day money back guarantee – that allows managers to test the service and see if it meets business requirements. Prices are $10 per team member per month with discounts available for enterprise customers.
A bit of a downside is the fact that the service will record detailed metadata logs such as the IP address of the VPN server users connect to, time of connection and disconnection, and the total amount of data transferred.
There’s nothing wrong with Safer VPN’s choice of encryption standards. The provider deploys OpenVPN with 256-bit AES encryption, 2,048-bit RSA keys without perfect forward secrecy, and SHA256 authentication. These are considered top-tier so your data should remain secure.
Premium plans allow for five simultaneous connections. We’re pretty sure that the dedicated product for businesses has a larger range but the company doesn’t specify how many exactly.
Apps are available for both iOS and Android as well as desktop software for Windows and MacOS.
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Read our full review of SaferVPN.
NordVPN enjoys a stellar reputation in the VPN business due to the fact that it’s been around for over a decade and offers a well-engineered product.
There are over 1535 servers to choose from spread across 61 countries. Europe and North America occupy the largest chunk, but there are a few options in Africa, Asia, and a couple in Latin America as well.
The company offers servers optimized for things like anti-DDoS, double VPN, and dedicated IP – guaranteeing strong encryption, stringent privacy, and fast data transfer.
NordVPN has a specialized business product, too. This includes things like dedicated VPN servers for corporations, a personal account manager, and 24/7 customer support. Premium subscriptions allow for six simultaneous connections, but the figure is probably higher for the enterprise plan.
Unlike SaferVPN, Nord doesn’t retain any metadata whatsoever. Hence there isn’t any data about user sessions, traffic, or timestamps. There have been a few official requests to hand over data in the past but there wasn’t anything on company servers that could fulfill the request.
NordVPN encrypts internet traffic via the 256-bit AES protocol by default and uses 2,048-bit SSL keys. DNS leak protection is enabled. There’s support for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.
Here’s our full review of NordVPN.
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There’s no dedicated business option available at Romania-headquartered VPN company Cyberghost Pro but it makes the list due to its affordability and number of simultaneous connections in paid accounts.
The provider has been adding new servers at a frenetic pace. Currently, there are about 1,110 servers spread across 43 countries but we expect this to keep going up in the medium term. The additional benefit for businesses is that it has an internal policy of not storing any data logs so the content of communications should remain hidden, even from system administrators at the company. There are apps for both Android and iOS as well as desktop support for Windows and MacOS. A single account allows for five simultaneous connections.
Cyberghost Pro uses 256-bit AES encryption on the OpenVPN protocol by default along with 2,048-bit RSA keys and MD5 HMAC authentication. There’s also an internet kill switch included which means web traffic will be halted if the connection drops unexpectedly.
Five devices can connect at the same time with one account.
Here’s our full review of Cyberghost Pro.
IPVanish continues in the vein of having a zero-logs policy. It combines that with rigid encryption protocols and a focus on quick speeds to deliver a robust product overall.
At the moment there are 850 servers spread across the world with a decent selection in each continent. Encryption standards are similarly impressive. IPVanish uses 256-bit encryption on the OpenVPN protocol by default, SHA512 authentication, and a DHE-RSA 2,048-bit key exchange with perfect forward secrecy. An internet kill switch is also included with all packages.
There are apps for both iOS and Android as well as desktop programs for Windows and MacOS. One account allows for five simultaneous connections.
Read our full review of IPVanish.
ExpressVPN has over 1,500 server locations spread across 94 countries, which means it’s a pretty good choice for employees that might have to travel frequently or work remotely. The largest selection is in Europe, North America, and Asia Pacific with a smaller number in Africa and the Middle East.
The provider is a firm favorite with users as it offers fast speeds coupled with military-grade encryption.
Privacy concerns are largely eased due to the fact that ExpressVPN does not store any traffic logs. The only tiny bit of metadata retention pertains to the date (not time) of connection, choice of server location, and total bandwidth used.
It helps that ExpressVPN is headquartered in the British Virgin Islands and therefore doesn’t have to comply with any mandatory data retention laws. This means it’s also out of the jurisdiction of western government agencies.
Encryption standards are stringent. The provider utilizes 256-bit AES-CBC as its default encryption protocol as well as both HMAC authentication and perfect forward secrecy. There’s an internet kill switch included, which the company refers to as a ‘network lock’.
It’s not very generous when it comes to simultaneous connections, however, with a maximum of three devices allowed on a single plan.
Apps are available for both iOS and Android as well as desktop software for Windows, MacOS, and Linux.
Here’s our in-depth review of ExpressVPN.
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Should I use a free VPN for my business?
Free VPNs sound like an attractive option for businesses looking to cut back on expenses and avoid unnecessary overheads. But we must warn you that this process entails a significant degree of risk.
Free VPNs won’t have large server networks spread across the world, stringent encryption standards, or speedy connections that are a staple with paid options. The weak encryption means your business might be susceptible to a hacking attempt and a real threat of data loss. Slow speeds will result in longer wait times for file transfers or connections to remote company servers.
In some cases, free VPN services have also forcefully inserted tracking cookies, mined user data, and sold it to advertisers for a profit. We’re pretty sure you wouldn’t want that to happen to your employees which is why we think it’s in your best interest to skip them.
Some VPNs to avoid
When a business owner opts for a VPN, he/she is assuming that the company will do all it can to safeguard data and protect the company from external threats. VPN providers have a moral responsibility to fulfill their side of the bargain, too. But not all companies hold this principle dear – we feel you should refrain from using them.
Israel-based Hola, which operated a free peer-to-peer VPN extension for Chrome, once had a user base of almost 50 million. Unfortunately, it deployed the machines it was installed on as pawns in a massive botnet army.
A part of Hola users’ individual bandwidth was used to engage in things like Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, promoting pirated content, and distributing pornography. And that’s without any user consent whatsoever.
2. Hotspot Shield
In July free VPN provider Hotspot Shield was accused of unethical behavior such as mining user data and selling it to third-party advertisers.
The same complaint added that Hotspot Shield also hijacked legitimate HTTP requests by redirecting e-commerce traffic to partner domains where the company stood to earn profits if a sale went through.
It’s important to note that these are just allegations at the moment and haven’t been proved in a court of law yet. But we think you should hold off from using Hotspot Shield until the company is able to prove its innocence.
Media reports a few weeks ago stated that well-known paid VPN provider PureVPN collaborated with the FBI to identify Massachusetts resident Ryan Lin, believed to be stalking an unnamed 24-year-old woman.
Ryan had allegedly used PureVPN to cover his tracks while attempting to blackmail the woman. The FBI roped in PureVPN after a complaint was lodged.
For its part, PureVPN insists that it didn’t record the content of Ryan’s communications while connected to its servers, but the company did boast of a ‘no-logs’ policy prior to this episode.
What factors should I consider before opting for a VPN?
The internet has helped break down barriers to communication, bring people closer together, and democratize access to information. Businesses are no longer restricted to the talent available in their city/town – they can scour the globe for employees and use remote workers to scale.
Such trends are now catching on. Currently, it is estimated that about 2.8 percent of the global workforce now works from home. The figure represents an increase of 105% from 2005.
For businesses that hire remote workers, it’s crucial that their data is protected and encrypted – away from any malicious entity that might be trying to snoop in. A VPN will help mitigate these risks to a considerable degree.
At the same time, employees are traveling for off-site meetings, sales visits, and other business needs. They might be connecting to public wifi in coffee shops, malls, hotels, or cafes. Such networks aren’t considered to be incredibly secure – hundreds of people are connected at any given time, representing a security hazard.
Read our guide on how to navigate public wifi networks safely and securely.
Another factor to consider is the rising threat of cybercrime – specifically corporate espionage. The most common ways of achieving this are email and credit card theft with hackers keen to target the weakest links in the chain. These are mainly employees that use their personal phones for business tasks as well as other unsecured devices connected to the network.
In 2014, more than 16 million mobile devices worldwide were infected by malware according to Alcatel-Lucent’s Motive Security Labs. Companies lost over US$400 billion to cybercrime the same year. A routine method is for hackers to try and target smartphones as a way of entering the system. From there they can breach firewalls and carry out denial-of-service attacks to steal data.
In such a scenario it makes perfect sense to cough up a few dollars each month to secure your business. As long as your employees have VPN apps installed on their laptops and phones you can sleep easier at night.