Virtual Private Networks
Protection for all devices in all cases
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) used to be the purview of government and large companies to allow remote staff to connect to their corporate services securely, however this is no longer the case and should be used by every mobile user.
Today there is a lot of interest in our online communications whether that is the government collecting our data to make sure we are not terrorists, corporations like Facebook and Google wanting to know which sites we are visiting and how we interact with those sites, or a nefarious bad actor who sets up a "honeypot" public wifi hotspot to steal all of our logins and passwords as we browse the internet.
What can we do about this?
A simple answer is setting up a VPN which transmits all communications in an encrypted tunnel, masking it to people trying to read it..
VPNs do more than encrypt our traffic, they can also mask our location. A large number of sites use our IP address to determine a number of things including:
- which version of their website to load (a different language),
- which pricing to show (this could be in a local currency or more likely price discrimination based on locality),
- what content we are allowed to see (Netflix, Amazon, and most commercial broadcasts lock down access to content based on location),
- what sites we have access to (the Great Firewall of China routinely blocks access to western sites such as BBC.com, Google.com, facebook.com, twitter.com etc).
Most tier one VPN providers have servers in multiple locations across multiple countries allowing you to change your location as required. Simply open up the VPN software and change the server that you connect to and as far as the world is now concerned all of your traffic is routed through this new location.
Now understanding the importance of protecting your data "while in transit", the question is "what can I do about it?"
Fortunately the solution is actually relatively simple and there is a strong community willing to help you on your journey.
The first thing to do is get a VPN service. There are a lot of them about with some being free and others being paid services. A general rule of thumb is, "If you are not paying for the product then YOU are the product"..
We use and recommend PureVPN.com as our VPN service provider because they offer five devices per account, meaning you are able to protect all of your devices including your phone, tablet and computer. Their online chat help solves ALL your problems whether it is a connection issue or having problems streaming your favourite shows. This service is available 24/7. PureVPN.com also have apps available for all of your devices, or you can do a self configuration if you wish.
Internally we have a Netgear router with the DD-WRT open source software providing us the ability to have all of the devices that connect to that router, including Apple TV routed through the VPN.