How Much Do VPNs Cost?
“How much does a VPN typically cost?” It’s a good question with no good answer. Before we get into why that is, let’s first cover a little bit about VPNs.
WHAT A VPN DOES
A VPN, short for Virtual Private Network, turns your public network connection into a private connection. What this means is that when connecting to a website or another network (such as your business’ network), your information will be encrypted, and your IP address will be hidden.
This is especially important when working from home these days — with the incredible rise of remote work, cyber criminals will begin (and most likely already have) targeting home networks rather than businesses. Home networks — the majority of the time — tend to be much less secure than business networks. This is because your Netflix password isn’t as important as a business’ treasure trove of information; such as employee social security numbers, confidential client information, and payroll and health insurance information.
But if you’re connecting to your business’ network from home, you’re essentially providing hackers with an open gateway into your system — unless you’re using a VPN. VPNs provide all data that is transferred between your home’s wi-fi and your business’ network with end-to-end encryption — and without a VPN, all of this data isn’t only available to anyone who can access your wi-fi, it can be used by a hacker to create a backdoor connection into your business’ virtual environment.
For more information about VPNs, visit our blog about working from home securely.
HOW MUCH DO VPNs COST?
So now that we know why VPNs are important, let’s get into how much they can cost.
First off, there are free options available to you — you’ll want to be very wary of options such as these, however. While many free options will tout anonymity and secure connections, they won’t provide you with the level of security you truly need.
Make sure (and this isn’t just for free versions of VPNs) that they aren’t logging information. Many browsers will log data about your session — meaning tracking data about what sites you’re visiting, how long you remain on those sites, and how much data is being passed back-and-forth.
While the data may be encrypted, if it’s logged, it leaves a breadcrumb trail for hackers to follow — and nothing is every truly 100% secure.
There’s a very good piece of advice that is well-known amongst IT specialists — if the service is free, you’re the product. A free VPN might be using your computer itself to host bandwidth — meaning other internet users could be taking up some of your personal wi-fi’s connection. This is not secure, and you’re almost better off not using a VPN at this point.
Paid VPN services can vary in price drastically — a VPN like NordVPN will cost you $11.95 per user per month, or $99.95 per user for every two years if bought in bulk increments.
Services like these are perfect for an individual user who doesn’t rely on a business network, such as freelancers or consultants. If you’re using a VPN to securely connect to a business network, however, you’ll need something more robust.
Why is this? Because if your business’s network itself isn’t properly secured, a secure connection between the business network and your personal wi-fi won’t matter. The business itself will still be completely vulnerable.
This is why many VPNs come as a part of a package with your firewall. For example, Forticlient, a VPN from Fortinet, comes as part of the security package for their Fortigate firewalls — and firewalls aren’t cheap. A Fortigate firewall with the security package to include the Forticlient VPN can start in the $700 dollar range for a small business.
These costs, however, are necessary — if your business’ network isn’t secure, your company will be open to all forms of cyber attack; like ransomware, malware, and spyware, for example.
DEPENDING ON YOUR NEEDS, VPNs CAN COST A LITTLE, OR A LOT
Most software is sold through licenses, and usually per user — meaning for an individual, a VPN will usually be a minimum-to-moderate expense. For a business with hundreds or thousands of employees, however, a VPN can quickly become a major cost factor.
There is a good reason to spend the required amount of money on a VPN, however — no matter how much a VPN costs your company, it will always cost less than the fallout of dealing with a security breach.