7 Common VPN Mistakes Businesses Make and How to Avoid Them

Common VPN Mistakes Businesses Make

In today’s digital landscape, the importance of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) cannot be overstated. A VPN plays a critical role in safeguarding sensitive data, ensuring privacy, and maintaining secure communications. 

However, it’s essential to understand that a VPN is not a silver bullet that can replace other security practices. Over-reliance on a VPN, coupled with poor security practices like using insecure passwords, can turn it into a single point of failure, jeopardizing the entire security framework of an organization.

In this article, we will explore the critical mistakes organizations make when using VPNs and provide actionable advice on how to avoid them.

Quick Takeaways

  • VPN providers aren’t all comparable: Some collect logs and sell browsing information on the side, potentially risking employee and corporate data confidentiality 
  • Free VPNs are always a bad idea: Countless breaches have occurred with free VPNs, including open public databases and wide-scale data theft instances
  • Encryption protocols matter: TLS isn’t good enough, particularly since it was cracked by the NSA over a decade ago.
  • Untrusted networks demand constant VPN connection: Due to risks in the local network, employees need to understand that their business VPN must stay on.

#1: Choosing an Insecure VPN Provider

Not all VPNs are cut from the same cloth: Thankfully, it’s possible to research your way out of the grip of an unsecure provider. When shortlisting, check the history of published vulnerabilities surrounding the full spectrum of tools in consideration. 

For instance, when assessing the security of industry giants like Cisco’s Secure Connect, a 2023 proof-of-concept may leave you concerned that CVE-2023-20178 lets authenticated threat actors escalate privileges to system level. 

**Add Quotation This is why it’s equally important to assess the record of how a provider has responded to and managed critical patches in the past. 

Whereas this privilege-escalation flaw was patched within a few days of publication, looking at providers on the other end of the cost spectrum – such as SuperVPN – tells a story of complete disregard. A history of unpatched exploits is altogether too common, and is why free VPNs should be universally avoided – others have also been reported to actively collect your data and sell it, or act as surveillance arms for foreign powers. 

Instead, organizations should set a safe foundation by choosing one with a:

  • Robust reputation
  • Proven security practices
  • Transparent no-logs policy

Researching provider reviews, understanding their security protocols, and ensuring they have a history of protecting user data are essential steps.

#2: Using Weak or Outdated Encryption Protocols

Encryption is the core technology that scrambles browsing data – this is the mechanism through which data is made confidential. As such, your data security lives and dies on the encryption protocols in use by the VPN provider. 

**Add Quotation Complicating this is the sheer variety of protocols on offer today. 

For starters, some businesses don’t take a nuanced view of encryption – others simply assume that industry-standard options like TLS are good enough. But there’s been an ongoing understanding throughout the last decade that the RSA algorithm driving TLS encryption is compromised by the NSA, meaning it’s no longer indecipherable. 

Instead, businesses must ensure their VPN employs up-to-date encryption methods such as AES-256. 

Regularly reviewing and updating these protocols is vital to protect against evolving cyber threats. The industry standard is the OpenVPN protocol, which relies on AES symmetric-key ciphers. 

#3: Neglecting to Check the Logging Policy

A fundamental purpose of using a VPN is to maintain employee anonymity and privacy. However, some VPNs keep logs of user activity – even those that claim to be no-log – and this can represent a key vulnerability, should the browsing logs be accessed. 

**Add Quotation At the same time, connection logs are not only necessary for device and server connections, but they further play a large part in an enterprise’s security monitoring stack. 

The mistake made by some organizations is that of complacency: whatever VPN tooling you choose to rely on, make sure to read its terms and conditions surrounding log collection and storage particularly closely – you may find something unexpected 

#4: Connecting to Untrusted Wi-Fi Networks Without a VPN

While more of a behavioral problem than a technical one, the wider public’s education on the role of VPNs seems to have built an image that a VPN should be used only when transmitting sensitive data through the browser. 

The reality, however, is that a VPN needs to be connected throughout a user’s entire browsing session. It’s only with constant and reliable VPN tunneling that the user’s browsing data is kept safe from man-in-the-middle attacks and browser cookie theft. 

If your users are complaining about speed inconsistency, look into split tunneling VPNs, which allow non-mission-critical data to be handled – but only by trusted networks.

#5: Not Regularly Updating VPN Software

Just like any other software, VPN applications require regular updates to patch vulnerabilities and enhance performance. Neglecting these updates can leave systems exposed to security threats. 

Businesses should establish a routine for updating their VPN software to the latest version, ensuring continuous protection against newly discovered vulnerabilities.

#6: Assuming a VPN Is a Silver Bullet

Even with a market-leading provider, VPN tools are not infallible. In May 2024, researchers detailed how VPNs’ connections can be shut down without alerting the user. 

**Add Quotation This is due to a certain oversight within a Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) server. 

When a device is trying to connect to a network, a message is broadcast to the whole network. Normally, the only system that notices is the network’s router – and to achieve this, a DHCP server takes care of setting a specific local address. Known as an Internet gateway, this provides a primary route to the web for all connecting systems.

it’s possible to take advantage of an obscure feature built into the DHCP standard which forces other local network users to connect to a questionable DHCP server. This allows an attacker on the local network to set up their own routing rules that have a higher priority than those created by a victim’s VPN.

#7: Disabling the Kill Switch

A kill switch automatically cuts off a device’s internet access if the VPN connection drops out. This prevents accidental exposure of sensitive information.

Disabling this feature can lead to unintentional data leaks. Businesses should ensure that the kill switch is always enabled to maintain a secure and private connection at all times.

Expand Your Security Strategy with Perimeter81

To effectively leverage a VPN, businesses must integrate it into a broader, multi-layered security strategy. This involves implementing strong passwords, maintaining regular software updates, and educating employees.

By choosing Perimeter81, your enterprise can bolster pre-existing networks and set the foundation for future-proof security upgrades. 


What is the risk of choosing a VPN provider that is insecure?
Selecting an insecure VPN provider can compromise your entire security framework. These providers may lack robust security measures, making your data vulnerable to breaches and unauthorized access.
Why is it important to use up-to-date encryption protocols?
Using outdated or weak encryption protocols leaves your data exposed to modern cyber threats. Ensuring your VPN is using the latest encryption standards protects sensitive information from potential interception and decryption.
How does a VPN’s logging policy affect privacy?
A VPN that logs user activity undermines privacy and can be a liability if these logs are accessed by unauthorized parties. Choosing a VPN with a strict no-logs policy ensures that your online activities remain confidential.
Why should a VPN be used on public Wi-Fi networks?
Public Wi-Fi networks are inherently insecure and susceptible to eavesdropping. Using a VPN on these networks encrypts your data.

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