Should We All Be Using a VPN?

Twenty years ago, the internet played a fairly small part in most of our lives. It was to most people something of interest, perhaps to play around with little more than an interesting toy. Of course, that’s changed now and most of us probably use the internet every day.  Can you imagine arranging car insurance or planning a holiday without access to the internet?  Unfortunately as our use of the internet has developed so have the security risks, yet the infrastructure has not really changed in this respects over the last two decades.

More and more of us are considering the issues particularly of using the internet whilst travelling.   The majority of us now consider a VPN service as an important tool for performing just about anything on the internet. In the event that you travel and use access points in places like hotels, cafes and international airports – using a VPN is practically vital. If you do not then it’s virtually inevitable that eventually you’ll be the victim of some kind of cyber crime.

One of the primary issues with these kinds of free Wi-fi points is that they are nearly always installed and configured with someone with no understanding of computer security. Many surveys have found a huge proportion of these devices are installed with default settings. Only the bigger conglomerate organisations are likely to have a number of specialized staff able to configure these correctly and even then this isn’t often the case.

Think about all the locations you use free internet access, who supports the connection do you imagine? Exactly who would you get in touch with if there was an issue? The information would be very hard to find as they are probably installed in flying visit then some vague telephone support at the end of the phone. In smaller companies it’s commonly the dreaded – ‘friend who knows computers’.

It’s the reason that all these kinds of access points are so tempting to identity thieves and cyber criminals. Here’s just a small selection of the primary issues:

  • Central Access Points used often by hundreds of people to check out secure sites like e-mail, banking, paypal etc.
  • Often poorly configured with low security.
  • Allow access to seize all sorts of data using Man in the Middle style attacks.
  • Enables anonymity for attackers who really don’t even have to present if they hack into the router.

They’re definitely a huge attraction for organized identity thieves for example who can steal all sorts of data if they are able to hack right into the router. The other popular technique is to simply put together a free internal access point in the same location and give it an identical name. Putting together this somewhere near a hotel lobby or coffee shop means anyone can steal peoples details while they browse. This attack is commonly known as the “evil Twin” attack using a bogus access point.

If somebody compromises an access point or gets you to link up to a phony one then your information is in genuine difficulty. Forget about SSL or HTTPS all these can be bypassed if they have control of the access point you’re making use of. Pretty soon the cyber criminals can have emails accounts, financial details and all sorts of personal details.

Your only hope is to incorporate your very own personal layer of file encryption which safeguards account names and details – when it comes to this you need a VPN. Now throughout the years many people have been using proxies and VPNs for a variety of purposes. For people travelling then the overriding priority should be security. The best VPN for BBC iPlayer might not be the greatest VPN to keep your internet connection secure.

Many individuals use Smart DNS computers to bypass geo-blocks on well-known media sites however all of these should be avoided. They can work for bypassing blocks they offer no security whatsoever and there is no encryption layer added to any of the connections. The Smart DNS services are not secure nor where they designed to offer any online protection.  They are great for streaming video though and you can try one out for nothing here – American Netflix Free Trial.

The same could be said for all the specialised proxies you see for sale too. A proxy will hide your identity to some extent from the website you are visiting and your ISP. It will offer practically no security against any other sort of middle man attacks. Even some of the extremely specialized ones used for merchandising bots don’t really help. You can invest hundreds of dollars in the best rotating proxies you can buy, yet without an encryption layer you are nevertheless vulnerable.

Thankfully there are some VPN solutions which offer the best of both of these worlds. Avoid those who sell themselves as TV watching services, they won’t take the security side seriously. They’ll also probably have slower servers as all the users will be continuously streaming online video through them. Look for companies who stress the security of their system, ensure they don’t keep logs and have proper grown up responses to privacy issues.

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