Keeping an Eye on Online Safety as Your Business Grows

Last Updated: 

March 11, 2024

Keeping an Eye on Online Safety as Your Business Grows

If you have your marketing strategies right, you supply a good quality service or product at the right price and pay close attention to customer feedback, the chances are you’re going to make your business a success.

So much of our lives are played out online now that almost any enterprise will be relying on a website or online presence, whether that’s a full-blown e-commerce shop or just a few reviews on Facebook. The point is that the busier you get, the more visible you become online, so the more likely you are to attract the attention of cyber criminals. This risk is even higher if you use cloud computing to administer your business and don’t keep local copies of documentation on your domestic back up hard drives.

Think of this analogy. Imagine parking a brand-new, top-of-the-range Land Rover in a street on a dodgy housing estate. It’s somewhere the rottweilers go around in pairs in case the local kids bite them! On the passenger seat of that posh car, you leave a designer handbag in full view of anyone passing by. The chances are that some kid in a hoodie is going to have a brick through your car’s window before you can say ‘insurance excess’. That won’t turn out to be a good day.

Key Takeaways on Online Safety for Your Business:

  1. Growing Visibility, Growing Risks: As your business expands online, the increased visibility attracts cybercriminals. Implementing effective online safety measures becomes crucial to protect sensitive data and operations.
  2. Cloud Computing Caution: Businesses relying on cloud computing without maintaining local backups are at a higher risk. A comprehensive security strategy should include safeguarding against potential data breaches.
  3. Analogous Security: Drawing parallels to physical security, presenting your online presence like a modest vehicle can deter hackers. Installing a VPN acts as a digital disguise, making your business less appealing to potential cyber threats.
  4. VPN Shield: Utilising a Virtual Private Network (VPN) forms an encrypted barrier between your devices and the internet, making it challenging for hackers to identify and breach your online accounts.
  5. Government Agencies and SME Vulnerability: In a landscape where even national infrastructure falls victim to cyberattacks, small businesses must prioritise cybersecurity. VPN usage extends beyond business protection, offering personal advantages in an increasingly interconnected world.
  6. Dynamic Pricing Awareness: Online portals often engage in dynamic pricing based on user data. A VPN helps users avoid inflated prices by masking their location and device details, enabling fairer deals on accommodation and travel services.
  7. Versatile VPN Benefits: Beyond security, VPNs offer diverse advantages, including thwarting malicious activities at public Wi-Fi spots, maintaining consistent connection speeds, and accessing geo-restricted content, enhancing overall online experiences.
Online Business Startup

Keep the baddies at bay

But now imagine that the same designer handbag containing a large amount of money, hidden under the passenger footwell of a twenty-year-old rusty Ford Fiesta. The vehicle isn’t going to get a second look. You could probably leave the keys in the ignition and the local gangstas wouldn’t even be bothered to steal it.

So, if your online business has all the bells and whistles, card payment options, social media links, hundreds of great reviews and the like, hackers take one look and think ‘successful person here, let’s see if we can break into their payments system’. Hackers first use tools to identify a business through its internet protocol address (IP). Once they are satisfied that the server they have found contains the operating system to your website, they use a variety of techniques to access your online accounts, perhaps via PayPal or Google Pay, whatever. They identify the correct server by monitoring traffic to your online presence.

But if you install a virtual private network (VPN) onto the devices you use to remotely edit and administer your online shop, an intermediary server places an encrypted barrier between you and your connection to the internet via your ISP (internet service provider). To avoid all the technical jargon, it means that by using a VPN, nobody (including even your own ISP) knows who you are, nor where your device is located. You’ve disguised that shiny Land Rover as the rusty old Fiesta, but the content and functionality is identical.

And let’s not forget, government agencies are often revealing hacking incidents involving national infrastructure and hallowed institutions. If your power and telecoms companies can fall victim to their systems being compromised, what chance does a small business (SME) have?

There are also many other advantages, both business and personal, to installing an Urban VPN as a browser extension. It doesn’t matter if you live in the city centre or out in the middle of nowhere, the advantages are the same. Let’s take a look at one in particular.

Avoid dynamic pricing on business trips

There’s a common practice on certain accommodation and travel ticket portal websites of charging customers different prices for the same services on the basis of what the site’s AI ‘thinks’ you can afford. Whenever you visit a ticket reseller for a flight or hotel room, the first thing it asks for is your consent to cookies. But even if you refuse or use ‘incognito’ mode, that refusal doesn’t really make any difference to the session you’re in at the time.

The AI-driven analytics software at the site you’re visiting firstly identifies your location via your IP address. Then it notes what sort of device you’re using. The combination of these two factors, together with the sort of flight, hotel or whatever you’re searching for, are run through an algorithm to give you an effective ‘wealth’ score. If the AI determines that you can afford it, the price you see will artificially inflate. For example, if you are based at a Canary Wharf IP address in London, and you’re looking to reserve a room at New York’s Waldorf Astoria from your brand-new MacBook Pro, the AI screams ‘rockstar rich!’ and offers you a price accordingly. If making money is your passion, it’s best to keep it quiet!

Conversely, if you looked for more affordable hotels in New York city, but you use your VPN to access the internet from a server in, say, Detroit - a notoriously deprived area of the US, the deals you’ll be offered will be cheaper. Additionally, if you’re looking to book accommodation in the US or Europe, but you access the web from the UK, the currency conversion prices available from reseller websites are often usurious. Instead, if booking a New York hotel by accessing the web from a VPN’s US server network, not only will the price be more affordable, but the portal will allow you to make payment in local currency (i.e., $USD) – so that’s another saving on the exchange rate.

Other such advantages are too numerous to itemise here, but a VPN can also avoid malicious activity at Wi-Fi hotspots, keep your connection from being slowed down as a response to heavy data usage, and even allow you to stream geo-restricted content. So if you wanted to watch the BBC news on the iPlayer when you’re snugged up in that New York hotel room, connecting to the VPN’s UK based server network sidesteps the iPlayer’s block on overseas visitors.

In the final analysis, a VPN not only protects your online business from security threats, but can also lend peace of mind for your mental health while also saving you money on business expenses. What’s not to like?

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