Using a VPN to Avoid Geo-Restrictions

You hear about it more and more – computer and network security. A network breach will make the news, and the conversation about computer security comes back to the spotlight. One break of a company’s system puts millions of users’ data at risk.

Interestingly, there is more to computer and network security than that. As a traveler, you most likely utilize public networks to gain access to the internet. How often do you connect to the airport Wi-Fi while traveling, or the local coffee shop to check the internet? Those public networks typically are not secure. Although you get the same benefit as you would surfing the web at home, you do not have the password protection. As soon as you connect, all of your data and what you do on online becomes vulnerable to peering eyes and hackers.

Add one more issue to the mix – geo-restrictions on particular web services. If you travel a lot, you have probably come across a network that has blocked you from using their services due to your location. That is called geo-restriction and can be quite frustrating for travelers.

There is a solution that resolves all of these issues. It is called a VPN (Virtual Private Network). A trusted VPN source will protect your information while you are connected to a public network, as well as give you access to blocked content while traveling.

How a VPN Works

Once connected to a public network, your device sends data across the network to load what you see on your screen. However, what you don’t see is how vulnerable your data is as it travels through the network.

Think of what it feels like walking down a busy road. Every driver has clear access to what you are doing. They can follow you to your end destination and continue following you back to your home.

Now imagine there is an underground tunnel for pedestrians. Although you are still taking the same path as before, the tunnel now covers you. No commuters can see where you are going and what you are doing. You are essentially invisible.

A VPN works similarly. Without one, your data is visible to anyone peering into the network (hackers, government, anyone other than you). When you enable a VPN, it creates a tunnel for your data to flow through, just like the walking tunnel. Now your data is covered and encrypted so that outside eyes cannot see, and steal, your information.

Essential for Travelers

When linked to free Wi-Fi, you cannot guarantee the network is what it honestly says it is. Anyone can change his or her network name to whatever he or she feels like. So, say you are doing work at a Starbucks. Just because a Wi-Fi connection says Starbucks, that doesn’t mean it actually is theirs.

Public Wi-Fi has no form of authentication when establishing a connection. It is completely open and vulnerable. Once logged on, a hacker sitting right next to you can access all of the information on your device. If you like to access services like online banking, that information is detrimental if stolen.

What makes a VPN quite appealing for travelers, besides the security benefits, is getting past geo-restrictions. Many web services block people accessing their content from outside designated regions. You will find this quite often with streaming services, but regular internet websites will do this, as well. There may be many reasons behind the geo-restriction, including legality and operating costs. When you connect your VPN, it will automatically bypass the geo-restrictions and give you full access to the content.

So, if you like to travel around, whether it be for business or pleasure, you want to have a VPN with you. Protect your information from malicious attacks. Gain access to blocked content that you would otherwise not be able to use. Don’t let yourself fall into a vulnerable situation where you end up having data stolen and compromised.

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