After years of using VPN through my company’s servers while on the road for work, I finally tested a few services so I could enjoy this kind of security at home and when mobile but not on company business.
Virtual Private Networking encrypts your traffic between your PC and the VPN server so that you can safely transmit sensitive information, even when on unsecured wi-fi. In addition, if your ISP snoops on your traffic, they can’t read it either. This can be huge, if, for instance, you are stranded in the Vegas airport and trying to book a room on hotels.com with your credit card using whatever wireless connection is available. Best of all, the IP address that is assigned to you by your ISP, visible to everyone on the internet, and directly traceable to YOU, is completely hidden and replaced by an IP address assigned to the company providing the Virtual Private Network.
I would like to rave about Private Internet Access. They have an easily downloaded, easily installed VPN client so you don’t need a software engineering degree to get started. I have 18 different servers to choose from and half of them are outside the U.S. You get to pick and choose. Right now, I am posting from Switzerland.
For the geeks, PIA offers OpenVPN, PPTP and IPSEC/L2TP VPN Tunnels and a proxy server as part of the package. PIA does not keep any logs of who gets assigned what IP address. I have speed-tested both the VPN and the proxy and the bandwidth limitation seems to be the speed I’m paying for at my local ISP (unless I’m logged in to a server on the other side of the planet). I had an initial snag with my outgoing email SMTP server wanting a user/password authentication to send mail since I did not appear to be logged in to my ISP’s server (it has always required this to retrieve mail, duh). PIA answered my questions in less than a day and pointed out the obvious for me: set up your email client to pass a username and password to your Outgoing mail server, too.
All this anonymity and security for less than 40 USD per year, yes YEAR.
Try it. You get three installs for that price so you can use it on your home desktop, your traveling laptop and your nifty tablet, Apple or Android.