A few years ago, nobody outside the IT department knew what a VPN was and in reality that didn’t really matter. A Virtual Private Network was of little use to most people and those who did use them, mainly for dialling back into a work email system or document store simply clicked a little button on their taskbar to connect to ‘something’. Of course over the years this situation has changed completely and now a VPN is an essential internet tool for many people.
So Why is a Fast VPN Important?
Well for those travelling and using the internet, it’s pretty much a necessity unless you’re very careful. The issue is of course the fact that communication over the internet is basically very secure, even the supposed secure web pages (SSL) can easily be intercepted by someone with the right knowledge. If you travel the world and spend your time just watching Cat videos on Youtube of course that’s not a big issue. However the moment you start accessing email, paying bills or logging on to home banking sites or Paypal the whole game changes. Any time you transmit personal details or login credentials there’s a risk that they can be intercepted. Although that risk exists on your home network or company, it significantly increases when you use a third party’s wifi connection.
Ask yourself how often you’ve used a Wifi connection in a pub, hotel or cafe to do some transactions like this? Did you realise that the owner of that wifi access point could easily intercept and steal your logon credentials very easy. The simple fact is that you are trusting the owner and any administrators of that access point with all your browsing details. Ultimately those credentials can be used to make money, your accounts can be accessed, money transferred, goods ordered in your name and a thousand other crimes committed without you knowing anything about it. Even the owner of the access point might be unaware, if the technology is not locked down and configured correctly any one nearby could login as admin and do the same.
A VPN doesn’t protect you completely but it makes it much, much safer to transmit data over the internet. Simply because it creates a secure, encrypted tunnel to protect your data while it’s being transmitted. That means it’s virtually impossible to intercept your data and steal credentials without breaking the encryption (which is not going to happen if the encryption is military grade).
This of course assumes your using a secure VPN server configured correctly run by security trained administrators of course, otherwise it’s just yet another risk. Here’s a quick video of the VPN I use – it’s called Best VPN USA and it demonstrates my favorite VPN service.
There are a few ‘serious’ VPN services but unfortunately many are just TV watching packages which have no real interest in the security or protecting your credentials. Even where the company is based does have an impact on how secure and confidential the VPN service will be. For instance in Europe there are very strict privacy laws, so not only must your communication be highly secure – the logs and data passing through the VPN are covered too.
In Europe, currently none of the transferred data (including which URLs are visited) must be recorded or stored. Which is good because otherwise your data can sit on a third party server that you have no control over. In Europe the only data that can be recorded is the amount of data that is transferred over the VPN, this can be stored for six months but no longer than 12 months. For example Identity Cloaker store this for only 6 months in order to comply with the laws and then delete it. These details are always under revision though.
None of the free VPN services will delete logs though and your data (and possibly logon credentials will sit on these servers until someone decides to get rid of them). The free VPN pay for the services by inserting ads into your browsing and simply don’t have either the staff or incentive to worry about security.