Use A VPN To Protect Your Data & Devices

VPNs are growing in popularity  because they offer privacy and anonymity online at a time when it is needed the most. This is due to several  reasons, not least the surge in email related fraud and other cybercrime as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown and the big increase in the numbers of remote workes logging into corporate networks using unsecured devices. 

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a useful online tool to keep your network safe. It creates a virtual tunnel between your computer and a server operated by the VPN company. This tunnel is encrypted so external Internet traffic can’t see your data.

A VPN hides your identity as well as your data, which can be beneficial if you’re in a strange place and you’re not sure you trust the WiFi connection in a public place. Professional users may want to know their business-critical information stays private, too.  Because it helps make you anonymous online, you can, for example, look at the US version of a shopping website rather the UK site your computer browser would default to.  This is useful if you want to check the dollar price of something or check out the winter clothes a southern-hemisphere store is selling in the British summer. 

Since a VPN disguises what country you’re in, it means you can watch BBC iPlayer while you’re abroad, for instance or watch US Netflix from the UK. However, please note that watching iPlayer outside the UK breaks the rights agreement between rights holder and broadcaster. 

The access to Netflix is sometimes easier but  you can’t rely on any VPN having access to it flawlessly or forever. Many VPNs have set-up instructions so you can use your Amazon or Apple TV box as though you were overseas, handy if you’re an ex-pat wanting to catch up with your favourite soap. 

For those concerved about governmne survaillance, the US Senate recently extended elements of the Patriot Act to include legislation that will increase th FBI and CIA’s capability to legally access your browser search history without a warrant. Many organisations, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have argued for for an amendment to this bill that would protect the Internet privacy of American citizens, although these amendments failed to pass to date. 

Some experts advise security concious online users who are woried about their web history being tracked  to deploy multiple actively managed lines of defense for stronger  and securit perhaps the best known methods is to use a VPN in conjunction with the Tor Browser. 

Tor is a system that routes all of your web traffic through random, publicly listed entry nodes. It anonymises your behavior by bouncing your traffic through multiple relays and mixing it with other users. This makes your actual chain of behavior essentially impossible to follow.It does, however, come at the cost of significantly reduced speeds and the risk of exposure to deeply risky criminal content.

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