Protect Your Online Privacy In Shared Living Spaces
College kids living in dorms, foreign English teachers living abroad, graduate students, and even working stiffs trying to save up money may share living spaces with others. Being in a house with 2 or 3 people you are familiar with is one thing, but when you share wifi with large number of people you are unfamiliar with, there is a real possibility that your private information online is not safe.
For any mildly interested person, watching your online activity is easy. Download some network monitoring software, watch a YouTube video or two, and anyone that you share a wifi connection with can see what websites you visit and what else you do while you are online.
With a bit more investigation, snagging your login credentials is also possible. It doesn't happen a lot, but it does happen, and it always seems like it's someone else, until it's you.
Online Privacy with VPNs
Virtual private networks can be used for a variety of things, including watching TV streaming sites abroad, as well as connecting to local servers from a remote locations. But they are also the #1 recommended solution to protecting your privacy and security online.
With data encryption and something called “tunneling”, you are able to hide your real IP address. WHAT you are doing and WHERE you are located becomes protected by the same technology that protects your credit card information when you buy stuff online.
For anyone in a shared living space with many people using the same internet connection, using a VPN virtually eliminates the chance of you getting spied on or having your private information intercepted.
How To Connect to a VPN
Using a VPN is actually quite easy. Most VPN services now have their own VPN apps for PCs, Macs, tablets, and smartphones. These apps work just like any other app or software that you would normally use.
Download. Install. Run.
There are a few decisions you'll have to make before you get this running on your own device.
- What device do you have?
- What IP Address do you want?
- Do you want heavy encryption or fast connection?
1. Any VPN company you pick will have solutions for the big 4 – Mac, Windows, Android, iOS. Other services, like 12VPN, have many custom options for anyone using a Blackberry, Symbian, Linux, or other devices.
2. If you are using a VPN only to protect your privacy/security, I suggest you pick an IP address in the country where you are from. If you are in the USA, use a US IP. If you are in France, use a French IP. The US, UK, and Canada are the most popular server locations, but there are servers across Europe, Asia, and some even in Africa, Oceania, and South America.
3. If you are looking for fast speeds, use PPTP VPN. If you are looking for heavy encryption and beefed up security, use OpenVPN. The difference in speed is often negligible, but occasionally, especially if you are on a slow internet connection, the PPTP version may be preferable.
Recommendations. My top pick for 2014 is VyprVPN. They have great apps, fast connections, and very transparent privacy policies (remember, they will be protecting your data). They also have a 3 day free trial which most companies don't offer. You view my top 5 picks here.
Whichever service you choose, you'll end up paying about $5-$15 per month depending on how long you sign up for and what features you choose.
Photo Credit: Sebastien Bertrand