Almost every major tech brand began as a startup. Many of the most valuable companies on earth like Facebook, Google and even older icons like Apple and Microsoft started with just two or three people. These companies eventually exploded in popularity, and their combined total worth is in the trillions of dollars with billions of users between them. That’s why investors poured nearly $100 billion into early-stage startups in 2018. Everybody is looking for the next Airbnb, now valued at $31 billion— twice as much as Hilton Hotels International—or the next Uber ($120 billion). So if you have that next great idea, you need to protect it, and the best way to do that is by securing your network with a VPN.

Why You Need a VPN for Your Startup

What Is a VPN?

VPN stands for the virtual private network. Instead of connecting to a website directly, your device connects to a third party server, which then connects to the internet. In the process, your connection is encrypted and anonymized protecting your privacy from hackers, your ISP, or any prying eyes.

VPNs come in many options. You have specific VPN chrome extensions for your browser as well as desktop-based application to protect your computer. There are even VPNs that are compatible with routers, so all traffic going through them is encrypted. Here are a few reasons why this protection is essential for startups.

1) Protect Your IP

In this case, IP could refer to both your intellectual property and your IP (Internet Protocol) address. For startups, there’s nothing more important than their ideas. This is doubly true for early-stage companies when new ideas may not yet be copyrighted or patented. With a VPN, your IP address becomes anonymized which is essential in protecting your computer.

Without this information, hackers can’t gain access to your network and files that you don’t want to be shared publicly. You may not even have any competitors, but hackers are smart. They recognize key information and may even try to blackmail you to prevent them from spreading it. You can prevent this from happening by protecting your connection.

2) Promote Safe Remote Access

Remote access is vital for working in the cloud-computing era. We need access to all our files no matter where we are. Nonetheless, some places, especially those that offer free public WiFi, such as cafes and restaurants, are rife with security flaws. With a VPN, you can ensure your team always has safe access to key files making sure they don’t fall into the wrong hands.

3) Safe File Sharing

This is an extension of the same concept. Let’s say you are developing an app and one of your coders has developed an important new patch, but you’re halfway across the country. There’s no reason why you can’t safely share the file. You can connect and share from a remote, secure server no matter where you are through a VPN connection.

4) Bypass Restrictions and Filters

While most people tend to think of China when it comes to internet restrictions, about two-thirds of the world’s population have to deal with some level of internet censorship. Some of these countries might even surprise and include examples like Brazil and Chile, while even liberal democracies like France have seen a decrease in freedom over the years. Whether it’s being unable to use Google Drive in China or Skype in the Middle East, these types of restrictions can seriously hamper productivity.

5) Reduce Downtime

Downtime kills productivity and costs a lot of money. Even if hackers don’t steal data—and if they broke into your network, they do— they can knock down your website, email, or other important accounts. Every minute these things are non-functioning costs money, especially if people are unable to do their job.

This is particularly true for startups that are building their reputation. If a potential investor or client goes to your website and receives a 404 error or worse, a virus, you can be sure they’ll spread the news like wildfire. With VPN chrome extension, you can prevent that from happening.

6) Access Different Server Locations

Geo-restrictions have existed for a while now. You might notice this as you travel between different countries and see the different options or lack thereof on major platforms like Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, and many others. This has to do with copyright law.

But let’s say, your colleague in France has stumbled upon a very useful video on YouTube that can help your company, but it’s region-blocked in your country. With a VPN, you can choose your server location so you can have access to streaming content from around the world.

Startup Essentials: VPN Chrome Extensions

Most startups can’t afford a full IT team to protect their network. So the best way for you to ensure your security is to use a VPN. Begin with a VPN chrome extension (download it here) and then consider additional options that function at the device or router level. With this security in place, you can be sure your data and ideas are safe and secure.

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