What is a VPN?
A VPN, which stands for virtual private network, is an encrypted network between one or many machines (clients) and a server. It is “virtual” in the sense that it is not a direct physical or WiFi based network. The machines securely connect over an internet connection and define an entirely new set of internal IP addresses by which they communicate. This provides a private network which cannot be snooped on, even by the client’s internet service provider (ISP). It is one of the best network security mechanisms available.
The last Resolution dealt with keeping our physical home safe. This is obviously extremely important. But in our modern world, we increasingly have an online alter-ego which has become equally important to protect.
Everything from bank & investment accounts to deeply personal information like pictures are increasingly digital and available through the internet. Aside from actual theft potential online, identity theft is also a rapidly growing problem.
Most online sites we interact with use technologies like SSL (secure socket layer) to encrypt information so that online snoopers can’t read the traffic data. However the vast majority of these sites also use what is called single factor authentication. That’s a fancy way of saying a username and password.
Many sites use an email address for a customer’s username, and email addresses are generally very easy to find. That means the only secret thing separating your accounts from someone looking to steal or do damage is typically your password. If you use a simple password that is easy to guess, you can be compromised pretty quickly. Likewise if you use the same password in many places, even if it is harder to guess, once you are compromised at one site, a hacker will try that same password on another site with your email. In such a situation you can be compromised across every site where you reuse that password in a very short time frame.