To Use VPN or not to use VPN, that is the question.
Firstly, a simple question; what is a VPN and what is it for?
A VPN means a Virtual Private Network, a way of connecting to the internet through a secure server that encrypts and hides your identity and location. This all sounds great, but there are many diverse types, some are good and some not.
Now this article is not to promote one product over another. It describes some options available and talks about the pros and cons of what is available.
Free or paid?
As a general rule, if software is free then you are not the customer but the product.
Your information, browser patterns can be stored by the company supplying the service and this information is often sold to 3rd parties for traffic analysis etc. Its all in the small print. We all love and use Gmail, google etc, but this means that google analyses and sells the information about what its users view. Statistics are important to companies selling products. The want to see what their competitors are doing and how their sites are doing.
The same rule applies to VPN’s. Paid VPN’s, in general, do not sell on data as this is not part of their business model. And to be honest, the price of many of these services is very small.
Why use a VPN?
If you are out and about, at a hotel, airport, on a train or at McDonalds, there is often a free network for customers to use the internet. But remember, others are also using this shared network. This can be monitored and abused by those wanting to steal information using this insecure network. This is where a VPN comes in. While using the shared network, you connect to the VPN. This adds a layer of encryption to your communications over the internet that will make it impossible for anyone monitoring what you are doing to see anything useful as it will all be encoded and indecipherable.
A VPN will hide the contents of your web traffic from some observers and can make it harder for you to be tracked online. But a VPN can, at best, provide only limited protection against the threats you’re most likely to encounter on the web: malware, social engineering scams, and phishing sites.
There are better ways to address these threats. Your browser has built-in tools for detecting phishing sites, and so do most antivirus apps, so pay attention when you see a warning. Use common sense if you see a suspicious pop-up window or receive an unusual email prompting you to take some action. Many people reuse passwords and use weak passwords, so get a password manager to generate and store unique and complex passwords for each site and service that you use. Finally, protect your online accounts and enable multi-factor authentication wherever it’s available.
The best way to keep your computer safe and your information confidential is :
* Keep your computer operation system up to date.
* Keep your browsers up to date.
* Keep your anti-virus software up to date, and any other software that you use over the internet.
* Use a paid VPN service whenever using the internet outside of the home or office, even when hot-spotting from your own phone.