VPN is short for Virtual Private Network. We don’t need to know the techy side of how it works but understand that it allows you to create a secure (private) “tunnel” across the internet, say from your home computer into your office network. It lets you browse the internet privately and access content that you might not otherwise be able to get access to. For example, watching BBC iPlayer while on holiday in Spain.
The VPN fools BBC iPlayer into thinking you are still in the UK so allowing you access to catch-up TV. Finally, a VPN also allows you to use public WIFI (free café WIFI etc) more safely as in theory no one can snoop on what you are doing. This is because the VPN encrypts all your data, sending it in code that if intercepted cannot be read.
However, this is where it gets interesting! Internet users have been taking VPNs for granted and assuming they are 100% secure. But some VPN operators can be sloppy, incompetent or even crooked, so your privacy and anonymity could end up being even more exposed! Your VPN provider can theoretically see ALL your internet traffic, everything you type in and visit on the internet whilst using their VPN. You can minimise your risk by NOT using a browser-based VPN, for example a Chrome extension.
It is better to use what is called a Network-level VPN, as this won’t see anything that has already been encrypted by the little padlock icon in your browser. In the least make sure you use a reputable paid system.
In the PuterTutor household we use WindScribe. You can get a free limited account here: https://tinyurl.com/puterVPN
If you need any help setting up a VPN and you live local to Sutton Coldfield, Coleshill and surrounding areas then get in touch and I can come and help you.
Caroline The ‘PuterTutor.