Computer Security: VPNs

This is the fourth post in a multi-part series on computer security essentials. I am not a computer security expert but there’s some basic computer security essentials that a surprising number of people don’t understand. The aim of this series is to raise awareness of these. I will be covering password vaults, two factor authentication, devices and local encryption.

I’m fairly new to using a VPN but it’s one of those things that just makes sense, particularly if you’re doing any travelling or using wifi that you don’t control.

When you connect to wifi, particularly unsecured wifi, your traffic that isn’t transmitted over a secure (HTTPS) connection is easily able to be sniffed out by anyone else on that wifi (Google ‘pineapple wifi’ for more information on how easy this is). You could endeavour to use only HTTPS services but it’s hard to know every single connection is secure, especially background ones, that’s why it makes sense to use a VPN.

A VPN, or virtual private network, is a connection you configure on your phone or computer that allows all traffic to be sent securely via a remote secured network, even over unsecured wifi connections.

A VPN costs money to run as it requires servers and bandwidth so you shouldn’t look for a free option. A ‘free’ option is probably actually collecting all your data and onselling it’s probably best to pay for one

I’ve been using SurfEasy by Opera for a while now and have found it easy to use and still fast enough for my liking. They have an app for iOS that makes it easy to enable it and a VPN icon appears on your phone which reminds you that the VPN is active.

Surf Easy Logo

What’s your experience with VPNs and unsecured wifi networks?

Author: Alister Scott

Alister is an Excellence Wrangler for Automattic.

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