It was less than five years ago that the Starbucks Corporation – the trendy super-chain of coffee shops – made the decision to provide free WiFi access at each and every location worldwide. Since then, we’ve seen an overwhelming mass of public WiFi hotspots appear in nearly every place where people visit that are likely to bring an Internet-enabled device. So, pretty much everywhere. Widespread Internet connectivity makes sense in certain locations: major arenas, restaurants, and airplanes – all likely places where lots of social sharing is going on. But now we’re seeing the surprising rollout of easily accessible WiFi in public parks and local car washes (among other obscure locations), and let’s face it – that extra boost of Internet-juice is rarely a disappointing find.
Wireless access to the internet in these places is made available through largely free and insecure hotspots that anyone in the near vicinity with an Internet-enabled device can get on and use. These open connections prove as both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, the lack of any troublesome passwords makes connectivity and breeze. Literally, it’s a matter of toggling one, maybe two connection options and before you know it you’re surfing the ‘net and ready to go. But in a negative regard, security-free WiFi means that none of what you do or the information that you share while on an Internet hotspot is protected. Anyone also sharing the same hotspot could be snooping in on you and watching everything you do (and no, we’re not talking about the NSA here, though that’s a concern in and of itself). So does that mean that you should stop using public access free internet hotspots? Of course not; you just need to add some protection to your connection first.
The key to your security woes is a Virtual Private Network – henceforth referred to as a VPN. Simply put, a VPN is a layer of security between you and the outside digital world. It typically employs some level of encryption to protect the privacy of the data you transfer while connected. Most introductions to VPNs come from the workplace – when employees need to connect to their employer’s network from outside of the office.
A VPN creates a secure tunnel between your Internet-enabled device and the network or server you’re connected to. Everything you do while connected to a VPN is encrypted, from what you’re viewing and downloading, to your IP address and access point. This tunnel is totally private – not even your Internet service provider (ISP) can see exactly what you’re doing or transferring. Additionally, VPN is a must-have for international internet users looking to access websites that have been blocked or censored by their home country (lookin’ at you, China). If you are very privacy-conscious, and you prefer that your information and all that you do online stay hidden from prying eyes, a VPN is the best solution and a great way to go.
At Newshosting, we offer VPN as both a standalone product and an added feature to our Usenet plans. Start a VPN-only plan for as little as $8.25 per month for an annual subscription.