I am puffing my chest out and strutting around the living room today as I have finally reached the status of “Official Blogger”. I’m sure you are wondering how someone like me reached this lofty height of internet coolness. Well, my friends, it was a lot of hard work, blood, sweat, and tears. It was hours upon hours of labored research and analysis. I put myself out there without regard for my own personal safety for the betterment of the common good.
Well, actually, I got my first “Ask Jeff” question submission! That proves someone is reading this thing.
Comment: What are your thoughts concerning VPN’s and using those as another layer of security? I have some who say they don’t live without one and others who say, no big deal. I have one but wanted to hear your comments and maybe an article for your future blog to educate folks on what they are and what they can do to protect your information / network.
Great question FP er… KB. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a method by which the website you are visiting is not told the true identity of who you are and where you are coming from.
Think of it this way: When you go to any internet site, your computer boxes up the data it wants to send to that site, puts a “mailing label” on it so to speak, then drops it on to the internet for delivery. The internet reads the mailing label and ships your box to the computer your mailing label tells it to go to. When you use a VPN, all of your boxes first go to the VPN server where the VPN repackages the data and puts its own mailing label over yours telling the box where to go. The internet reads that mailing label from the VPN and sends it on its way. The receiving computer then receives your box with all of your data you sent, but the mailing label says it is from the VPN and not you.
This is an over-simplified description of how the VPN works. There are several other layers involved on the VPN side of things but the outcome is the same. Your identity is masked when you go to a website. This anonymity comes at the price of a slower connection and response time because of these extra steps. VPN’s are commonly used by people who are trying to communicate with people or organizations in other countries where the internet is regulated and monitored. Journalists are frequent users for this purpose. Many large cooperations use VPN’s to protect their data that is being sent over remote computers through public or unsecured internet connections. VPN’s are also widely used by those who frequent the dark web in order to protect their identity.
Any VPN worth it’s salt is going to charge you an annual fee for it’s use. These fees range from $50-100 a year depending on the company and their offerings. There are a few free ones out there but I would stay away from those as they are unreliable and I’m not quite sure how they stay in business. When looking for a VPN be sure to select one that certifies that they do not keep logs of the activity going through their server. This means that they do not keep a record of the data that goes in and out of their VPN, essentially so that you are not leaving a “data trail” behind you.
So to answer your question, yes, VPN’s are a great tool for an added layer of security when you are on the internet. They will not protect you from fishing scams, viruses, or other means of identity theft but they will keep your identity while online a secret. Keep in mind that some websites will not allow connections from VPNs but these are few and far between.
Thanks for the question KB. I hope now that I am an official blogger I will receive more good questions like this from my readers.
Categories: Ask Jeff