Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)

What is a VPN? Should you use one?

“…in a nutshell VPNs rely on specialized software that you download and install on your computer. Some VPN providers will supply customers with their own custom brand of VPN software, while others may simply assign customers a set user credentials and allow users to connect to the service via open-source VPN software like OpenVPN.

Either way, the software creates an encrypted tunnel between your computer and the VPN provider, effectively blocking your ISP or anyone else on the network (aside from you and the VPN provider) from being able to tell which sites you are visiting or viewing the contents of your communications. A VPN service allows a customer in, say, New York City, to tunnel his traffic through one of several servers around the world, making it appear to any Web sites that his connection is coming from those servers, not from his ISP in New York.

If you just want a VPN provider that will keep your ISP from snooping on your everyday browsing, virtually any provider can do that for you. But if you care about choosing from among VPN providers with integrity and those that provide reliable, comprehensive, trustworthy and affordable offerings, you’re going to want to do your homework before making a selection. And there are plenty of factors to consider.”

—Krebs, Brian. “Post-FCC Privacy Rules, Should You VPN?KrebsonSecurity.com. March 17, 2017.

Luckily, there is a website that provides side-by-side comparisons that can help you choose a VPN provider according to factors that matter to you.

A VPN can help you present less of a target to criminals online, and it is an especially important piece of security for people that use open WiFi networks. Everyone should use one. You can expect to pay somewhere in the range of US$50-100 a year for a good VPN provider.

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