The use of a VPN (Virtual Private Network) is becoming more and more popular. Once only used in the realm of businesses, VPN’s are fast becoming a household item for many people and at times a necessity. I have tried several VPN’s over the last year or two, but have finally settled on PIA (Private Internet Access). I learned about PIA in an online review, did some research and decided to try it out.
Why A VPN?
This quote from the above listed review explains things pretty well:
When you connect to the internet, you probably assume that your activities aren’t being observed. But that’s an unsafe assumption, and it’s especially dubious when you connect to the web from Wi-Fi at the coffee shop, the airport, or even at work. When you use a VPN, on the other hand, your traffic is routed through an encrypted tunnel to a server controlled by the VPN provider. Nothing can penetrate a VPN’s encrypted tunnel, so no one snooping on your local network (be it at home or at the office) can see what you’re up to. It also prevents your ISP from monitoring your activities.
The people you get your Internet Service from might be nice folks, but they really don’t have your best safety at heart. In this day and age of malware and tons of other computer security violations, the security of your information, of your computer is up to you!
However, I think this can be a mixed bag for different people. If you are using a laptop and/or iOS device extensively in and through public Wi-Fi, a VPN would be an excellent idea. Especially, if you have sensitive data on your device. I think perhaps your security may be a bit better working form a home router system, depending on how it is setup. You definitely have an advantage using a Mac over a PeeCee. However, using a VPN at home is still more secure than not using one for sure.
What do I do? I don’t use devices in public that much and definitely not public Wi-Fi. But, if I am going to be in public, especially traveling and using airport Wi-Fi, I turn it on for my iPhone especially. I do not use it at home too much, but I probably should.
Enough said about using VPN’s, I am sure you can make up your own mind about it. I think it is nice to have on hand, you can activate it at your pace depending on what your workflow is and how you feel about the need for this type of security.
Private Internet Access is one of the better VPN’s. As I said, there are tons of them. You usually pay for a year or two subscription and then download their software to your Mac. PIA costs $39.99 for one year and $69.99 for two years. That is consistent with the industry pricing, some VPN’s are a little more, some a little less.
PIA runs your data through secure, private VPN tunnels like most other VPN’s. From the PIA website, I thought this was important:
Our services have been designed from the ground up to be able to operate using built-in technology pre-existing in your computer or smartphone device.
The services operate at the TCP/IP interface level, which means all of your applications will be secured, not just your web browser.
Their software and system work seamlessly with whatever device you are using. And, most importantly to me, it works with all your applications that do some type of online access! When we think of online access we think of a web browser, but several of your Mac Apps access online stuff during their use. That is totally awesome as far as I am concerned!
Let me list a few benefits from the PIA website about using their system:
- Hide your IP to block unwanted exposure and data leaks – Your real IP address is hidden online.
- Defend yourself from data monitoring and eavesdropping – Your data cannot be intercepted.
- Block unwanted connections – There will be no unwanted connections to your Mac or iOS device.
- Browse anonymously – You have identity protection.
- Unrestricted Access – You have unrestricted access to the complete Internet.
I think you can see their service is very thorough. I have done quite a bit of research on their website, I really like these guys.
To use PIA you first create (buy) an account and then login with the credentials they send you. There is a download link for their App on this email. When you install their App, it will make you login with your new credentials for the first time. It remembers the credentials at subsequent logins. You first bootup of the App looks like this:
It automatically signs in to one of their server nodes.
Here is the deal though. This article is getting too long so I am going to go into how the App works and it’s Settings in my article for tomorrow. Until then, stay tuned to this channel!
Using a VPN is probably a pretty good idea. If you are not using one, you should give it serious consideration. Check out tomorrows article for more on PIA.