What is a Personal VPN
In order to protect privacy and safeguard data, large corporations outfit their employees with company-backed VPN's. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) creates a secure tunnel between you and a safe server that encrypts and protects you and your information. Everyone needs this type of protection for using wireless hotspots, shared networks or any other internet access that is not completely controlled by the user. While large companies with paid IT staffing can easily create these services for their employees, a Personal VPN is a VPN service created for the average person.
Why do I need a Personal VPN?
With the explosion of wireless hotspots and other forms of public internet access, the risk of hackers grabbing your data has become a major epidemic, driven by the sheer number of people out there using wireless hotspots, coupled with the ease of stealing your information. Software is easily obtained from various hacker web sites that allow even unskilled people to scan all the data across a network. When hacking was difficult and required great skill, you were pretty safe sitting at the local coffee shop, fast food restaurant or hotel and using the open wireless. The odds were with you because there were not many people out there with these skills. Now, anyone who wants it can download a wireless hacking kit. Anyone in the room could be scanning everyone's data. The Personal VPN solves this and other security issues -- once and for all.
Are all Personal VPN's created equal?
There are several Personal VPN's available to the public today, ranging from free to very expensive. Resist the urge to use a free or very cheap VPN service. In exchange for providing the free service, you agree to let them look at your data for marketing purposes. In essence, you give them an exclusive license to look at your personal data. Considering your privacy is what you're striving for - the 'free' solution is not really a bargain.
Some services are built on insecure servers located in all sorts of locations. The thing that makes a VPN secure is knowing that the server you are connecting to is a secure server. If it's not, all of this encryption is useless. Anybody with the know-how can take a desktop computer at home and set up a VPN. They could even begin selling subscriptions to people. But all that would accomplish is a secure connection to a very insecure server.
Is all of this security really necessary?
A lot of people think that they are not doing anything on their computer that requires this level of security. Many think 'what are the odds anyone will be watching me?' or 'I have nothing to hide'. Recent news revelations show that your data is constantly being monitored and watched. The fact is, if you send email or use instant messaging, people will scan and read every word you write. If you knew someone was listening to your phone conversations, would you mind? If so, what makes your email and instant messaging, or social web site posts any different? The personal VPN is about protecting yourself from hackers who think nothing of doing you great harm to or snoops who feel it's their right to know everything about you.
The problem with the 'I have nothing to hide' train of thought, is that you don't really know what the future brings. Therefore things that you think are not worthy of hiding today may be a big problem in the future. If you don't hide it today then it will be too late in the future.
There are many examples of how some totally innocent internet search today can hurt you tomorrow. We'll just provide a single example here.
Let's say for some reason you search for DWI attorneys in your area. Maybe it's a research project for school, maybe it's for a friend, it doesn't matter why. A couple of months later your auto insurance is canceled or rates skyrocket and you wonder why. Your search will be data mined and sold to people who want the data. Insurance companies buy this data to protect their bottom line. This sort of thing happens all the time and people rarely know why it happened to them.
What other benefits does a Personal VPN provide?
When you connect through a secure VPN, your IP address becomes the one of the trusted server you are connected to. Therefore, as you surf the internet, the owners of the websites you visit do not know who you are and cannot collect information on you based on your IP address. Web sites can no longer use your surfing habits to create targeted marketing databases, containing your information, and sell them to anyone willing to pay. Learn how to protect yourself online by reading our VPN privacy article.
In addition, many places restrict access to where you can surf. When you connect through a personal VPN, you are able to unblock sites because all the requests are made from the remote server, outside the control of the local network owner. Many people living in foreign countries where their internet is limited use a personal VPN to unblock IP phone services and web sites -- thereby getting around those limitations.
A lot of people outside of the USA cannot access certain video and other web sites that are only available from American IP addresses. This is also true in other countries where people lining outside their home country can no longer access sites restricted to their country. A Personal VPN with servers in that country will easily resolve this issue.
NOTE!--Beware of vendors selling 'Personal VPN' services that only offer the PPTP protocol, included with most operating systems. This protocol is flawed, easily cracked and is the cheap and easy way to do a VPN. If they are not using SSL encryption, like banks and credit card companies do, along with well known and tested software such as OpenVPN, steer clear! You can usually identify PPTP vendors by the advertising claim of 'no software required'. In our opinion, the only place a PPTP VPN makes sense is when using mobile phone devices and tablets that do not support any other encryption type. If the vendor offers a choice between PPTP and L2TP use the L2TP protocol as the better option on your phone or tablet computer.
Where do I get one?
For a premium product we suggest this Personal VPN service which is reliable and secure. They run multiple servers throughout the Americas, Asia and Europe. Offering both TCP and UDP OpenVPN connections allows them to thwart blocking schemes that other vendors can't penetrate. Also offered is a PPTP/L2TP or OpenVPN service for smart phones and tablets like iPhone, iPad, Android phones and Android tablets like the Samsung Galaxy. Additionally, they provide multiple ports to access the VPN, further enhancing their ability to beat the web blocks. Finally, they change - and never repeat - their IP addresses often, making it very problematic for ISP's to block their IP address.
If you are only interested in basic service, with servers in 5 countries, we recommend this inexpensive no frills entry level VPN Service . It provides Both OpenVPN and PPTP/L2TP VPN servers to the USA allowing you to secure your connection, prevent wireless hotspot hacks, and unblock web sites from around the world.
For an offshore only VPN service which only operates only in countries with strong privacy laws we recommend this Offshore VPN Service. They operate OpenVPN, PPTP and L2TP servers in several offshore locations and provide several unique and useful security products.