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Using Virtual Private Connections

By Jean-Claude Elias - Oct 24,2019 - Last updated at Oct 24,2019

Using Virtual Private Connections (VPN) when browsing websites or simply using the Internet, is clearly on the increase, and there are at least two good reasons for that.

To use a VPN you install and launch a small software application designed to do the trick, and then, once the app is running you do your browsing. Essentially it brings two benefits.

Without VPN “intruders” (hackers, among others) can see what you are doing, the contents you are downloading and the site you are browsing. With VPN they can’t, precisely because the connection becomes “private”, secured.

Without VPN the other side you are connecting to can tell where in the world you are, from what country you are connecting, and based on this information they can decide to allow you to connect to them or not. With VPN, you set the geographic location, the country you want to appear connecting from. Understandably a VPN opens the door to countless possibilities.

Now why would you want to appear connecting from say Germany if you are actually in Jordan? There are many cases that would justify doing so, and they are not necessarily illegal, reprehensive, unethical or immoral. The most obvious is when watching TV streaming, be it sport channels or Netflix and the like.

Have you ever tried to watch, for example tennistv.com, only to be served a frustrating pop up screen that says “sorry, this service is not available in your geographic area”? With a VPN, you can set the application, your computer, to show that you are in Australia, or France, or any other country, to bypass you area’s restriction, and have this way access to the tennis match you absolutely want to watch. Even TV programmes that you can find in replay mode would be inaccessible to you if the service detects that you are in an “unauthorised” country.

Another perfectly justified reason for using VPN would be to “protect yourself from snooping on untrustworthy Wi-Fi hotspots”, as rightly explained by howtogeek.com. This aspect of VPN is truly about better protection, higher privacy, reduced risk of cyber-attacks and virus infection, and it alone justifies installing VPN software.

Are VPNs free? Rarely, hardly.

Among the many such applications available currently on the web, it is worth mentioning TunnelBear, ExpressVPN, StrongVPN and CyberGhost, perhaps the top four in the series.

They either work based on a monthly subscription, or ask you to pay per quantity of download, in other words the total time you would spend watching video programmes or connecting while the VPN is running. Typically VPN services cost between $5 and $15 per month, on average. Some, like TunnelBear, very kindly offer you a free subscription if you are content with a maximum of 500MB (yes MB, not GB) download per month. Practically speaking this is not really much, for it is the equivalent of about 60 to 90 minutes viewing — hardly enough to satisfy anybody.

Apart from watching streaming video, IT professionals often use VPNs when they remotely connect to another computer for technical service, support and assistance. In this specific case VPN ensures a very safe connection, one that hackers and prying eyes cannot intercept.

The beauty of VPNs are that they are not complicated to install, understand and use. Even those who are not particularly technically minded can easily do it.

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