VPN – Virtual Private Network: What Is It and Why You Should Care
Imagine this…you leave home for work. You turn and lock your front door, only after ensuring all other doors and windows on your abode are secured. Walking to your wicked ahsome cah (imagine a heavy Bostonian accent here), you unlock the door. As you start your wicked ahsome cah, the doors automatically lock.
Arriving at work, you secure your wicked ahsome cah one more. You use your keycard to enter through the secure front door of your office building. As you arrive at your floor, you use another keycard to enter your office. Arriving at your plush corner suite, you produce a good old fashioned key and unlock your door. Immediately upon entering, you close and lock the door.
All safe and secure, right? Not so fast my paranoid digital colleague.
So Close…And Then You Blow It
You swivel around in your fancy executive chair, whip out the old laptop, log in only to discover your entire bank account has been cleaned out.
“How could this happen??!!”
“I locked my home, my car, my building and my office. Why meeeee……” (You are definitely not getting an Oscar nod for best actor in a drama.)
Here’s how it happened, and why. While you were busy worrying about locking up everything else, you forgot to lock your digital link between your laptop and the outside world. That’s like getting undressed in a locked house, but with the shades up and lights on. On the ground floor. Next to the street. With lots of nosy neighbors. And one creepy dude with a pair of binoculars.
Locking Up What You Can’t See
It’s easy to lock physical things, and easy to tell when they are locked. Not so with your data. Data has two states – in motion and at rest (I’ll followup next week with a post on encryption – protecting data at rest). A VPN – Virtual Private Network – protects your data while it’s in motion, going from one place to another. Think of an armored car moving your money from one bank to another. The money is secure in either bank, but it’s exposed while transporting it.
Without a VPN, it’s like giving your money to an old man on a bike and asking him to take it to the next bank. Maybe it’ll get there – maybe it won’t. The old man might get lost, robbed, rolled, or simply decide Kitty’s Men’s Club and Massage Bar is too tempting to resist.
I know – I know. Many of you say “But my company already uses a VPN. I’m good, right?”
Wrong byte breath.
Maybe at work. What about if you’re a small business, or self employed, consultant, free lancer, or love buying tons of stuff on Amazon in your spare time? This is why you need a VPN. You need to make sure no one can see you undressing, regardless of where you undress at. Without a VPN, you’re naked to the rest of the world.
What A VPN Does For You
On my resource page HERE, I go into detail on what a VPN is, how it works and what it does for you. In fact, there’s even a good video (of course it’s good…I made it).
If you want to try it on for size, Opera has produced the first browser with a free (and unlimited – caveat emptor) VPN. I’m trying it out now. To download your version – go HERE. Let me know if you have any question, and I’ll follow up next week on encryption.
Until then – Shields Up!