If you ask any security professional about strengthening your computer’s security and privacy, you’ll be told to using a VPN.
That’s great advice, but what about the rest of us who don’t have a clue what VPN even stands for, let alone how it works?
“VPN stands for ‘virtual private network,'” said David Gorodyansky, chief executive officer of AnchorFree, a Mountain View, Calif., company that makes one of the VPN softwares for the average user. “It is a connection between a secure server and your computer, through which you can access the internet.”
“Think of it along the lines of sending a payment to a company,” said Brian Monkman, technology program manager at ICSA Labs, a network-security testing and product-assurance company based in Mechanicsburg, Pa. “You could put cash in an envelope and send it — which, assuming no one got to the envelope prior to its arriving at its destination, would work.
Or you could issue a check and send it, “said Monk Man.”This simple step increases security.
VPN strengthens security by making it harder to hear or intercept your connection.
And when your connection is intercepted, it is difficult to actually decipher what is being transmitted. To put it simply, a VPN is essential for anyone who regularly uses a laptop from outside the office to connect with the company computer network. If you think your company doesn’t need one, think again. We recently reviewed several paid and free VPN services to help you protect your data.
“People seem to be largely unaware of the risks of browsing the internet unprotected,” Gorodyansky said. ” We need to raise awareness of internet security concerns, and make sure that people connect with a VPN, ensuring their protection.”
Security experts warn against using public Wi-Fi hotspots, e.g.In a café, an airport or a hotel lobby, as there is a risk of your connection being hijacked or snooped. Internet service providers can invade your privacy by selling data about your online habits to advertisers. A VPN reduces these risks considerably.