Back in my working days, VPN (Virtual Private Network) software was used mostly by companies to allow their workers to connect to their Host computers safely from their homes. Today there are several companies providing virtual VPNs for individuals to securely connect to the Internet. It is becoming especially important for travelers.
Many travelers today depend on Wifi hotspots to connect to the Internet. Many do not realize how dangerous that flexibility really is. It is easy for the bad guys to setup a Wifi connection for travelers and if used they can capture all sorts of passwords and access to bank accounts, credit card accounts, etc.
Enter the VPN. If you use a VPN connection you have a secure connection between your PC and the server of the VPN provider. Even if you connect from a non secure Wifi location, by enabling your VPN software, you are protected.
If you are one of the many laptop users that use wireless connection, you should consider using this software to protect you. If you are a Windows or Mac user, there is a free piece of software called Hotspot Shield. When activated, you will appear to have a US IP address and you will have a secure connection to the US servers.
It will display a piece of advertisement on a page, but you can close it and it will cost you no screen real estate. It is free because of this advertisement. That is a very good deal. It is easy to download on either a Mac or Windows PC. It will not work on Linux. I have used it on both systems and it works well.
If you want a full service VPN, there are a lot on the Internet and a quick search will give a lot of choices. The price will start at about $5 a month and go up. It all depends on what devices you want to protect. Many will also work on smart phones that connect to the Internet.
Both of these systems, as well as others, can also work with selected routers. The advantage of having a router that supports VPN is that all PCs in a household would be covered. This is a future project I will look into if I decide that I need support on multiple PCs at one time. For now one connection at a time is sufficient.
For my initial test, I chose AceVPN. I had sent emails to both Witopia and AceVPN and Ace responded faster. I placed a Paypal order for one month to evaluate the service. I have had several questions and each email I sent to Ace was responded to in 15 minutes or less. You can’t bet much better support than that.
Should you consider using some of the above software? If you travel and use a laptop in wireless situations, the answer is a resounding YES! If you live in a foreign country and certain of the sites you want to visit are blocked, because of IP addresses, then it would solve that problem as well.
The above software is pretty simple for Windows or Mac users. If you are a Linux user, you will most likely have better luck if you use the Gnome desktop. If you happen to be using the KDE desktop and have gotten a VPN to work, drop me an email. I would like to pick your brain.
NOTE: I switched to WiTopia.