There’s a big push lately for everyone to utilize VPN’s. For quite some time, VPN’s have been used to connect individual computers or networks to another networks across the Internet securely. In the most basic of explanations – a VPN (Virtual Private Network) forces all of the information leaving your computer for a specific destination to be encrypted.
Businesses have relied on them for years – but more recently services have been popping up all across the fruited plains offering mobile users the same level of security when it comes to browsing the web, transferring files, checking email, you name it.
Here’s the problem I have with these services… You’ve just set up your laptop to use a free VPN provider, or plunked down your heard earned dollars for the service… All the information that’s going to and from your laptop is now encrypted by a bunch of different acronyms which you don’t recognize, and you think your data and privacy are now free from prying eyes.
The thing is – how secure are you REALLY? If you’re a computer nerd like myself – your laptop is free of spyware and other naughty bytes that’ll sail clear through the VPN… and the system at the other end is also clean and secure. One thing I’ve learned in all of my years in the industry though – is that no setup is ever as clean or secure as you would like it to be.
I advise anyone planning to use a VPN – be aware of what it is, and that just because your information will be encrypted and secure as it passes from point A to point B and back again – that it is no excuse for *not* keeping your system up to date and free of spyware, viruses, and other security exploits. It is also no excuse for expecting that your information as it passes from point B to points unknown is still secure.
I use a VPN I set up on my home network as an added level of security between my laptop, iPad, or Droid while I’m out and about – to make it a little harder for those prying eyes to see what I’m up to. I don’t expect it to be the holy grail of public Internet communication, nor do I use it as an excuse to justify slacking off when it comes to performing my due diligence as a card carrying member of the information age.
Use strong passwords, keep your security software up to date, and don’t ever assume that you’re truly anonymous or secure… that’s when you’ll get in trouble.