Most of us have heard of Virtual Private Networks, but until quite recently, they were quite a niche product; people assuming that they were being used for accessing a secure work server or looking for naughty things on the internet – there was no proper understanding of just what a Virtual Private Network was for, or what it could do.
However, as mobile technology has increased, people are connecting multiple devices to the internet and free Wi-Fi hotspots have become expected rather than a pleasant surprise, but this means that incidents of online identity theft, bank account hacking and all manner of other unsavoury things is on the increase.
Let’s be honest, you’re never going to stop that – it seems as though hackers are always a step in front of the tech, but … a few simple steps (like using a Virtual Private Network) can help you protect your identity while online, and of course, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Virtual Private Networks have been used for all manner of things – commercial entities use them to test software for example – where accessing the software from a different country could cause problems; it allows them to access it from a server based in a country of their choosing.
They can also be used to create a secure connection to a work server – if someone is working ‘in the field’ they can use one to communicate with work, particularly useful if the work is of a sensitive nature, even more so if there’s a risk of commercial espionage.
For most people though, a Virtual Private Network is used when they’re connecting to an open Wi-Fi hotspot that could potentially leave them vulnerable to someone collecting their data – while it sounds like the work of a paranoid person, it happens more often than you think.
Of course, we have other uses as well – with geographic locks on content on many of the worldwide streaming sites such as Netflix, we’ve seen an upsurge in people using VPN’s to access that content. Yes, strictly speaking it’s illegal, but we’d be foolish to deny that it happens.
Overall, a VPN is great way of retaining a little privacy while browsing online, it’s never going to give you 100% protection, but it’s certainly a good measure to incorporate in to your daily routine if you’re using public Wi-Fi on a regular basis.