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Why Green Businesses Should Incorporate VPNs Into Their Cybersecurity Plans


floating solar panel

A floating solar panel plant in Indonesia. Renewable energy companies are vulnerable to cyber attacks.

In the age of climate awareness, more businesses are taking positive action, with a recent Xerox report finding that the number of American companies with formal green programs has risen to 54%. In Canada, 68.4% of Canadian businesses or organizations across the economy have at least one green practice. Interestingly, small and medium-sized businesses are at the forefront of this. In line with this, a recent survey on QuickBooks outlined how 72% of all small business respondents consider sustainability necessary. On top of this, 3 out of 5 are already taking active steps to reduce their environmental impact. Since SMEs make up 90% of all businesses worldwide, the wave of green business is growing. 

One way that more businesses are going green is by embracing online solutions that eliminate the need for physical practices that consume natural resources. This includes utilizing digital workspaces, opting for digital documentation, and optimizing cashless transactions. That said, going web-based requires that businesses adopt cybersecurity plans. Cybersecurity plans to implement various protocols and tools that thwart malicious online parties are a must-have in today’s digital environment. Among the most prevalent cybersecurity tools today are virtual private networks or VPNs. 

Understanding the role of VPNs in cybersecurity

Cyberattackers are focusing on small businesses as more operations have gone digital. An Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) report revealed that small businesses are in the crosshairs of cybercrime. As of 2023, cyberattacks on small businesses broke record-high numbers, with up to 73% reporting a data breach. Following such incidents, respondents shared that they experienced financial hits, higher employee turnover rates, and loss of customers. For green businesses, experts, such as those from the ERM Sustainability Institute, note that such an attack can severely hurt and even negate ongoing green efforts. For example, a hacker can infiltrate online procedures, such as shipping or manufacturing communications, forcing a business to turn to other suppliers who may not follow the same green values. In some cases, the financial impact of such a hack is so significant that businesses cannot keep shouldering the higher upfront costs that their green initiatives require, like solar panels or green shipping. 

Unfortunately, human error is a leading cause of vulnerability many hackers exploit in small businesses. A study by Stanford University says that up to 88% of all hacks are due to innocent employee mistakes. This is why more businesses are learning that apart from more offensive inclusions in their cybersecurity plans, they also need more passive employee-based answers. A secure VPN addresses this issue, as upon installation, it automatically encrypts all the data a user sends and creates an encrypted tunnel through which all data can travel. In a private VPN, the provider can offer critical features such as a kill switch, a dark web monitor, a meshnet, and threat protection. These help ensure your outgoing data is protected, sneaky threats are blocked, and you can be alerted should any of your data end up on malicious sites. These run independently with little to no human intervention, making them convenient for all employees to use. For a green business, a VPN represents a relatively small investment in protecting its core values and processes. 

How to choose a green-focused VPN provider

For starters, it’s essential to understand that web-based solutions still have an environmental impact. Studies show that using free social media for just five minutes daily can produce emissions equivalent to 20 kilograms of carbon annually. That said, considering the average person spends almost an hour on social media daily, we can assume these emissions are higher. This number can be even more significant among businesses needing to stay active on social media throughout the day. With this reality in mind, choosing a green-minded VPN is less about finding a faultless provider and more about finding one actively working to improve its eco-friendly efforts. 

One telling aspect to look at is a VPN’s programs in terms of carbon emissions. In trusted providers, this is done via partnerships with organizations that can help offset emissions. Typically, these offsets are completed via mindful investments into green projects, such as large-scale reforestation efforts. Carbon emissions can also be offset among larger providers by making direct investments in eco-initiatives. These investments often go into renewable energy sources, like wind farms, which can also power the VPN provider’s network. 

Another factor to consider when choosing a VPN is how it optimizes its servers. Remember, servers are the heart of any online-based service, requiring significant energy to run and maintain. Among VPN providers, one way of keeping this in check is by leveraging server locations so that they’re closer to renewable energy suppliers. Aside from this, some providers use servers that require less energy to begin with. Also called green computing, this concept embraces low-power hardware that doesn’t demand as much for upkeep. 

In closing, VPNs are an affordable cybersecurity solution that can safeguard your green business from threats that can exploit and destroy it. Since many VPN providers also prioritize green efforts, you can rest assured that your data, practices, and values are intact. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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