What is a VPN?

A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is basically a secure encrypted link from your computer to a computer or network somewhere else.  Your computer then routes some or all of it’s network traffic over that encrypted link.  Typically they are used to get access from secure private or corporate networks from remote locations.  Your company might have you using a VPN, when you’re working from home, to access the corporate file server, SharePoint, SVN, etc…

Why Should You Use a VPN?

Wireless networks are more and more ubiquitous.  You’ll find WiFi at your local coffee shop, book store, McDonalds, and more.  WiFi is amazingly convenient.  It’s lets us stay connected and work from anywhere.  Unfortunately it is also typically insecure.  All your internet traffic is flying around through the air, and anyone can see it.  Many WiFi networks use various types of encryption to protect your traffic, however most of those encryption mechanisms aren’t actually that secure.  The technology to break the encryption easily has been around for a while.

Recently it’s been made ten time easier:  A new Firefox plug-in called Firesheep automatically captures wireless traffic, and presents clickable buttons which allow you to hijack (take over) other people’s sessions on common websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and more.

Even if you use SSL/HTTPS for logging in, many websites pass the session cookie over subsequent non-secure/non-SSL requests

If you are using Wifi in any public location, you are potentially at risk of having your sessions and passwords stolen.  Using a VPN prevents this by fully encrypting all of your network traffic between your laptop and a secure server somewhere far away from the insecure WiFi network.

Fact: Everyone who uses WiFi should be using a VPN to protect themselves.

So How Do I Get a VPN?

In the past setting up a VPN was usually a mix of expensive commercial products and complicated technical configurations.  That’s why usually it’s only large companies which use them.

Today there are much cheaper and easier options.  One example is Golden Frog’s VyprVPN,  a Personal, private and secure VPN.  It’s a very affordable, easy to setup, VPN solution.  I use it whenever I’m at the coffee shop or on pubic WiFi networks.  I strongly recommend you check it out, or another similar service.  This is a very real privacy and security threat.

 

 

Swedish translation here:  http://www.pkwteile.de/wissen/zakaj-bi-morali-biti-s-pomocjo-vpn  thanks to Andrey Fomin