The services of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) are becoming ever more necessary in today’s world, with the ever-growing threat of computer hacking and the increasing use of measures meant to hinder your internet using experience such as regional boundaries and increasing surveillance.
What is a VPN? In short, it is a service that allows you to connect to a private network, and then the private network uses its secure connection to access the internet for you. This allows your data to be kept confidential. Try to imagine it as a road or tunnel between your computer and the internet, so that no one else can get in. Even though it was originally conceived as a way for businesses to have employees safely access their work data from a remote location (and it still is used for that very purpose), the technology is now being used by the average person for all sorts of different reasons.
The most obvious and the best use for the average person to be using a VPN is security, especially when you are using an unsecure network. Anyone with the right skills and sometimes a little bit of hardware can easily hack into the network and look at everything being uploaded or downloaded from it. This includes your usernames and passwords. A VPN will allow you to encrypt your web browsing and not allow anyone else to see what data you are sending or receiving. This is absolutely essential to anyone that does financial transactions online at a place other than home, or someone who is working with sensitive information regarding their place of employment.
Most public networks are not all that secure, and you will want to consider a VPN service if you do a lot of internet browsing in places such as libraries, cafes, or other businesses which advertise free Wi-Fi.
Travel and Bypassing Censorship
In addition to the added security when using the public Wi-Fi network at the hotel or airport, there are other benefits to having a VPN service available when you are traveling. The most common one is that you can make it appear that you are still accessing the internet from the United States when you are actually in a different country, allowing you to access services that might be otherwise blocked by the fact you are in a different region.
Perhaps you are instead a big fan of the BBC and their programming, but notice that their video player doesn’t work in the United States. You can use a VPN that has its server within anarea that would allow that video player to bypass this type of problem as well.Just remember that their use isn’t limited to being based in the United States.
A more practical consideration is that a VPN can allow you to bypass a country’s restrictions on certain websites. Some countries may block Facebook and some others Google (among others), but with a VPN you can get around this. This is essential for people such as journalists or traveling businesspeople so that they can still access every service or piece of information they need to.
How to Choose
First you should think about how you use your mobile devices or laptop, where you use it, and what services you use when you’re on the go. You might want to write down this general information so to have a better idea of how to answer your own questions when you comparison shop the different VPN services available. You will want to really research what is out there, because some services may charge you after a small amount of data usage, claiming to be free. Some are more secure than others. Some have a higher bandwidth than others, meaning the poorer services will slow down your browsing speeds.
For a good website about how to choose a VPN, check out http://securethoughts.com/best-vpn/ and read what they have to say.
Caroline is a technology enthusiast and blogger who writes for securethoughts.com. She enjoys writing about all types of technology, gadgets and gaming.