The top reasons to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Right off the top I am not an internet expert, I use the internet to blog, for Facebook, to Skype, and conduct all of my business when I am travelling. That means internet banking, money transfers, and buying goods and services over the internet.
I first started looking at virtual private networks (VPN) to get around Skype being blocked in Belize. When I started my research into Virtual Private networks I discovered there are many compelling reasons to use a VPN service
Before we start ~ What the hell is a VPN?
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is technology that creates a secure network connection over the Internet. A vpn basically creates an encrypted information tunnel which means that no prying eyes can see your information.
There are 4 compelling reasons to use a VPN when travelling:
Reason Number 1 ~ Public Wifi Security
Everyone knows that public WiFi hotspots are not secure. With out encryption entering your credit card number on a public WiFi is equivalent to broadcasting your information over the radio.
There is software readily available on the internet that allows anybody to collect other peoples information from public wifi. Faceniff, Firesheep, and Wireshark are a few examples.
How well do you know the person in the hotel room down the hall? Again they could be collecting your information!
By using a vpn you can secure your wireless internet connection. Because your data connection is encrypted, there are no gaps in your protection. This means that if somebody does access your data in a wifi hotspot, they will not be able to read the data. It will look like Egyptian cryptographs.
Reason Number 2 ~ Prevent Identity Theft
Data theft can occurs when somebody wiretaps or eavesdrops on your internet connection (both wired and wireless connections). Again there is free software on the internet that allows anybody with rudimentary computer skills to access to your network data using Wireshark. By using a VPN your data is encrypted and therefore unreadable.
Reason Number 3 ~ Uncensored Access to the Internet
This is the reason I first started looking at using an VPN. When I was in Belize I was unable to use Skype because the Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL) has a monopoly on Internet Service Provision. BTL is effectively blocking Skype users in Belize to force them to use their phone system. I had an issue with this and would rather pay a vpn service to bypass this censorship rather than pay BTL for using their phone system. There are also some minor annoyances like US websites not being available in countries like Belize and Canada. By using a VPN tunnel my IP address appears to be in the US (or any other part of the world) effectively bypassing this censorship.
Reason Number 4 ~ Internet Privacy (IP masking )
First of all what is an IP address?
An Internet Protocol address (IP address) is equivalent to a phone number for your computer when it is hooked up to the internet. This “phone number” identifies our computer as well as its location.
Many websites are watching your every move and mining data (read Google, Facebook etc..). Browsing the internet is really not all that private. The other scary thing is governments such as the United Kingdom and the US are considering enacting “Big Brother ” legislation that would allow them to monitor their citizens’ internet connections. These laws would force internet service providers to log users internet activity, including every website they visit.
By using a VPN your IP address is masked thus stopping tracking software. Many good VPN service providers such as Private Internet Access do not keep data Logs on their clients.
Its a scary world out there – play safe!