It’s a bit of a break from the norm for this blog but I thought I would post up a few words about Virtual Private Networks (VPN) and why I use them.
I was recently away on holiday with my wife and was happily sitting in a cafe taking advantage of their free wifi hotspot. We were with some friends and talking about hiring a car for a few days so I checked some prices and worked out the cost. It was a bit more than I thought it would be but still a good deal so I decided to check my bank account balance online to check it wouldn’t push us into the red.
I opened up an new internet tab in the browser and logged into my internet bank account. One of my friends looked shocked and started to tell me how I shouldn’t use public wifi access to login to anything, especially not bank accounts! I let them continue whilst they fired off loads of facts about insecure networks, man-in-the-middle attacks and fake access points collecting my information. I looked on trying to put a worried look on my face.
After about 10 minutes I grew bored of being “educated” and decided to share the secret as to why I didn’t worry about open networks and the security of my data. I use a VPN.
I’m not going to explain what it is – you can take a look for yourself here – https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=what+is+a+vpn – but here are the 3 main reasons why I use one…
A VPN creates a secure tunnel through open networks so you can be confidant that your data is not being snooped by anyone in the middle. Of course, the connection is only secure as long as you can trust the VPN supplier. Thats why I picked mine carefully.
Breaking free of restrictive networks
Sometimes organisations or wifi hotspot providers block access to websites like Facebook, Twitter and other “social” sites. A because all of the traffic inside a VPS is secure you are not subject to the filtering rules that apply to other network users. This was helpful when I was doing some subcontracting and the corporate network had blocks in place so I could not access my google drive to download the documents I needed.
Access content for fixed geographic audiences
Again, this comes down to choosing a VPN provider wisely. I use one who provides several “end points”. These are the places where your connection enters the public internet. A good example of where I use this is buying items form American websites. Some online stores that I visit are “locked” to non US buyers. Now, I am lucky enough to have relatives in the US who are happy to ship to me so I set my VPN to a US based end point, shop online and have it delivered to their address. Simple.
As I said, it is very important to choose a good VPN supplier. If you want to know where to start that I can suggest iVPN and a great provider. Check out their website at ivpn.net. (For the sake of transparency, that link contains my affiliate ID so if you do choose to use them, I get a little “thank you” which helps keep this site running!).