The EFF has put together a handy guide on choosing the right VPN — virtual private network — that explains in simple terms why you’d want to use this type of software.
“It enables a computer to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if it is directly connected to the private network—benefiting from the functionality, security, and management policies of the private network,” the guide explains.
It goes on to clarify the three reasons people typically encrypt their data. Most people already using a VPN do so for the two reasons: They connect to a corporate network remotely or are attempting avoid Internet censorship in countries like China and Iran. But even if you’re not using a VPN for business or digital freedom, there is a simple reason why you’d want to use a VPN.
“You can also use a commercial VPN to encrypt your data as it travels over a public network, such as the Wi-Fi in an Internet café or a hotel,” the EFF writes.
I put together this flow chart that explains whether you’re a candidate for this third reason to use a VPN:
“A good number of open wi-fi providers take the time to tell you in their T&C that there are inherent risks with wireless communications and suggest using a VPN,” F-Secure Security Advisor Sean Sullivan said after we conducted a public Wi-Fi experiment. “So if you don’t take it from me, take it from them.”
And even if you aren’t on a public network, you may want a VPN to protect you from ubiquitous tracking elements like a perma-cookie.
You can try our super simple Freedome VPN solution — which also includes tracking protection and the ability to set up virtual locations — free.
[Image via Trevor Cummings | Flickr]
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