Personal Cyber Security: Using a VPN

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“Sometimes paranoia’s just having all the facts”. William S. Burroughs

Having constant access to the internet has become a staple of modern life. Most, if not all, of us, have a personal computer in our pockets that give us access to a wealth of information undreamed of even forty years ago. It also allows us to connect with each other.

Companies race to get an edge on this connection and services like AT&T and Spectrum provide WiFi hotspots to their customers. While the quality of these hotspots is ….debatable, at least they are tied to your service.

Then there are the free WiFi services, the sort you find in coffee shops or airports, even buses may provide WiFi to attract riders.

In both cases, VPNs are a useful addition to any cellphone.

A VPN provides a variety of benefits, two of them that would benefit the average user is the ability to mask location and the direct funnel through the VPN to the Internet.

There is a multitude of VPN providers and you will need to do your research to find the right one for you but the one word of caution I will give you is this: stay away from so-called “free” VPN services.

Free VPNs are a case of “you get what you pay for”. Free VPN providers have no incentive to keep their services up to date or to protect your privacy. They have to make their money somehow and selling information on users is a sure way to make money.

Ideally, use a VPN that does not use personal identification information such as a name or email as a username. Also, look for VPN services that allow users to pay via PayPal or Cryptocurrency so that you can use the service without having to enter credit card information.

Make it a habit to turn on your VPN as soon as you leave home. There is a debate on whether this is necessary but from my experience, especially after using public WiFi, it doesn’t hurt.

Cyber Security is not just for corporations and we shouldn’t assume that we are safe. Be vigilant and take care.

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