If you are traveling, don’t go without a VPN. A Virtual Private Network is an app that runs on your computer or phone. It encrypts your data and hides your location. So it is difficult for hackers to crack your password and other valuable data. It also allows you to access websites that may be blocked in the country you are visiting.
Russia, China, and Iran severely restrict or block VPNs. Other countries that monitor their citizens and visitors hope they don’t use a VPN when traveling.
“A VPN is the only way to ensure that any data you send from your computer or phone over the network is secure and not read by other people,” says Eli White, chief technology officer of Smart Tours.
According to Mr. White, VPNs are particularly useful for international travelers. Some countries block websites (for example, you cannot access YouTube from mainland China). So if you are traveling abroad and want to continue watching your favorite videos, you will need a VPN.
During the recent Covid-19 protests in China, protesters reportedly witnessed police checking mobile phones of passers-by. They asked if they had installed any VPNs that could be used to bypass China’s Internet Firewall. In Iran, anti-government protesters are using a combination of VPN and TikTok to get their message across during the government’s violent crackdown.
The Qatari government does not ban VPNs, but it blocks VPN websites to prevent its residents from viewing government-approved content online.
What is on your phone or computer is nobody’s business. The foreign government doesn’t have to spy on your devices. Thanks to this article, find out when you need a VPN, and the pitfalls and mistakes to avoid.
When should you use a VPN
Some travelers won’t go anywhere without their VPN. One of them is travel and technology expert: Mike Sloan.
Mike Sloan, who pays $99 for a year’s subscription to ExpressVPN, says he can easily connect to his US locations from Nice, France, where he currently lives.
“Many US sites or apps don’t allow you to access them from Europe or abroad,” he explains. For example, Netflix in France does not offer the same TV shows or movies as in the US. If you want to try Netflix USA, you need a VPN connection to a US site to make it look like you are in the US. »
Mr. Sloan also uses a VPN for work. Many companies restrict access to their internal networks to US websites. With a VPN, he can locate himself in the United States.
And there is another feature for travelers that few people know about. If you’re looking for rates, changing locations gives you access to limited rates for a specific country or region. Subject matter expert Save money on hotels and plane tickets by switching countries.
Disadvantages of using a VPN for travel
“In general, VPNs are limited in the speed they offer, so they can make your online experience slower than usual,” says Bob Bacheler, general manager of Flying Angels, a medical transportation service.
Why do VPNs slow down your connection speed? Real-time encryption adds delay, experts say, so you’re paying for the extra security with a slight delay. However, the best VPNs do not have appreciable latency in most circumstances.
I used ExpressVPN when traveling abroad. During my recent visit to Turkey, Facebook didn’t work because I was accessing it through a VPN. It blocked me from accessing a couple of my pages so I could “verify” my site. Disabling the VPN had no effect My account has been banned for weeks,” says Christopher Elliott.
Other countries try to block your internet access if you connect to a VPN. I was unable to connect using my VPN in Dubai. It turns out that the UAE government has banned VPN use and blocked the VPN provider’s IP address. »
How do you determine if you need a VPN for your next vacation?
Here’s when you should consider a VPN, according to the experts.
1) If you are concerned about your privacy
“Whether you’re worried about hackers monitoring your browsing or just want to reduce your exposure to hackers, a VPN is an essential tool for protecting yourself on the web,” says Mark Rapley, managing director of KWIC Internet, an internet service provider.
2) If you need more security
“VPNs cannot protect you from all kinds of attacks on a foreign network,” says Paul Tracy, author of Delete the Hacker Playbook. But they provide protection against data theft or rogue networks. »
If you don’t want anyone to know where you are
A VPN allows you to change your location on the Internet, allowing you to access geo-restricted sites like Netflix, experts say. If you use a VPN, you can be anywhere. “You can feel relatively safe because hackers won’t be able to find you,” says Carla Diaz.
For some travelers, a VPN is a must. Brian Oberquell, a special effects assistant based in Port Moody, Canada, uses SurfEasy VPN when he’s on the road. He says it protects his privacy and allows him to watch his favorite TV shows.
“It might happen that I start watching something on a US streaming service that isn’t available to me on the Canadian version,” he explains. So I set my VPN to show I was still in the US so I could finish watching. »
Don’t make these mistakes when you travel
VPNs are easy to install, but they are not foolproof. Here’s what you need to remember when traveling with a VPN.
1) Don’t go for the cheapest price
When it comes to VPNs, you get what you pay for. “A free VPN offers minimal protection,” says Joe Silverman, CEO of New York Computer Help, a warranty service for computers. Free VPNs often have data caps, and some even sell data to third parties, experts warn. Make sure your VPN has a no-logs verification policy. Instead, choose a reputable VPN with solid customer support.
2) Do not turn it off
“If you don’t keep it all the time, it’s useless,” says Cornelius Fichtner, a frequent traveler and computer guru who runs an education consulting firm in Tucson, Arizona.
3) Don’t assume this is a sufficient security measure
Some travelers have a false sense of security when using a VPN, says Artur Kane, marketing director for VPN provider GoodAcces. “They assume a VPN is all they need for protection,” he says. This is not the case. You should always use strong passwords and be careful when opening emails from people you don’t know. »
in a summary
If you are traveling abroad, you should consider getting a VPN before you travel. Even if you don’t leave the country, a VPN can be useful, for example if you are connecting to an unsecured WiFi network at an airport. Hackers are always trying to find a way to access your personal information and governments are trying to monitor you. Don’t let them.
Translated article from the American magazine Forbes – Author: Christopher Elliott
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