Do I Need a VPN Service

Do you need a personal VPN service? If you Google around you will see that most people use VPN services to bypass the Internet restrictions from their countries, like in the Middle East or China. But a VPN can do so much more for you.

The VPN works by encrypting all your Internet traffic and redirecting it via a VPN server, typically located in the USA. This will have two immediate effects:

1. Your Internet traffic will be obscured from anyone “listening” on the line. Even your ISP or company will have no idea as to what your actual Internet traffic really is.

2. Your real IP address will be hidden from the sites you visit, thus offering you anonymity while online.

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So even if you are in Wireless HotSpots, places that hackers often scout to find new victims, you will be protected when using the VPN. Firesheep, the Firefox plugin is a preferred tool of the trade and is extremely easy to use, even by amateur hackers, or “script-kiddies” as they are called in the underground community. The VPN encryption will also keep you safe from the Firesheep attacks.

The bad part is that it all comes at a cost. Two main issues to be discussed here:

1. When using the VPN you will experience a decrease in speed. This is caused by the encryption and the traffic routing. So if you are in France and you are using a VPN server, your traffic will get encrypted, sent from France to the VPN server in USA and from the VPN USA server redirected to it`s original intended destination. From there the traffic flows via the same route all the way back to you in France… That`s a long trip right?

2. Most good VPN services are paid. There are some free ones, but people have had bad reviews in the past about free VPN service: limits on bandwidth, poor speeds and connection drops some users say. The paid services generally do much better in terms of performance. Expect to pay from 10$ – 20$ per month for a good VPN service.

Another important aspect is the encryption the VPN uses. At this moment SSL VPNs are considered to have the safest encryption. The most popular SSL VPN protocols are SSTP and OpenVPN. Unlike other protocols they use certificates during the authentication process, making a man-in-the-middle hacker attack almost impossible.

So, my advice would be, if you care about your privacy and security, get a VPN service and always use it in networks you consider unsecured (like airport or coffee shops public networks).

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