A VPN to call your own

A VPN to call your own

Summary: You can have a virtual private network of your own even if your company doesn't offer you the service and you've no tech. skills thanks to VPN services.


With Firesheep potentially looking over your Web-browsing shoulder and password management becoming essential, wouldn't be nice if you could easily keep all your Internet traffic really secure? As it happens, there's long been a way to keep your online wandering secret: Virtual Private Networks (VPN).

If you're lucky, your company, school, or some other organization provides you with a VPN service. Most of the time you may have used this just to work on office matters from the road or home. You can, and should, also use it anytime you're on the Internet. Far more so than many Wi-Fi security measures, application proxies, or the Web-based security measures such as Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) or TLS/SSL over HTTP (HTTPS), a VPN can keep your information safe all the way from your laptop to servers and back again.

Even if your company doesn't provide a VPN though you can also use VPN firmware on your home router, such as DD-WRT, or on a computer working as a VPN server with a program like OpenVPN. All these require at least some technical expertise to set up. But, what if you're all thumbs when it comes to technology? Well you still have an answer: a VPN provider.

These are businesses, such as Banana VPN; Black Logic, and StrongVPN, which will set you up with a VPN. Generally speaking, although the companies tend to talk in terms of 'buying" the service, what you end up doing is paying a monthly service fee of $15 to $20 a month.

Is it worth for security alone? Me? I have my own VPN setups, but yes, if I were often working on sensitive subjects and I wasn't technically adept, I'd seriously consider these services.

These VPN services can offer other advantages as well. For example, if you're in Canada, but you want to watch a U.S. show on Hulu, you're usually out of luck. But, if you use a VPN to obtain a U.S. Internet Protocol (IP) address you'll be able to watch Glee, 30 Rock, or Family Guy. Or, in my case, as a serious British TV fan, with a UK IP address, I could get access to the BBC's iPlayer Internet-cast of BBC television shows.

Another plus that some VPN providers offer is anonymous Web browsing. With this, you can roam the Internet without being tracked. In addition, if your ISP blocks some programs, such as VOIP (Voice over the Internet Protocol) Applications like Skype, you can use a VPN to get around such restrictions.

Even so, these are pricey services. There are also several potential problems. The most important of these is that a given service may already have too many users for your area. If a service doesn't have enough VPN concentrators for its customers you may see poor Internet speeds or even be unable to make a connection at all. So, before subscribing to a VPN service, check out what their customers have to say about their service, before sending them your credit-card number.

If they offer a free trial, take it. After all, you're paying real money for a VPN service. It's unlikely you'll get as much bandwidth from any of these services if you already have 10Mbps (Megabit per second) or higher bandwidth from your ISP. But, if they only deliver 1990s' 128Kbps (Kilobits per second) speeds for your VPN, they're not worth using even if they were free. That said, the right VPN service may just be right for you at these prices.

Topics: Telcos, Networking, Security

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  • Alternet VPN's

    I use WiTopia (www.witopia.net). It does cost, the version I use is about $60/year.
  • RE: A VPN to call your own

    I use Acevpn (www.acevpn.com) and it costs $5 per month. It's cheaper to use providers like Acevpn than setting up your own VPN server. For $5 you get access to 20+ servers plus you can use the service on routers, computers and iPhone. Can't beat it.
  • Not so

    VPN keep you adta secure from your computer to your proxy. VPN is just an intranet over internet, but if you then go onthe internet, you're back in the wild, with no more protection than without a vpn; mor prceisely uou have the protection you would have browsing from the lcoation you're connected to with VPN.

    If you want more security/anonymity than that you must go to a deeper realm, that of secure protocols like onion ring.
    • RE: A VPN to call your own

      @s_souche what it does is offer a layer of protection from your connection being sniffed while using an open public wifi connection
  • I'll vouch for DD-WRT and built-in OpenVPN

    Not something I'd recommend Joe Average set up, but it's running well on a Cisco/Linksys E3000 with no issues (and no overheats, in spite of what Jason Perlow says).
    Dietrich T. Schmitz, ~ Your Linux Advocate
    • RE: A VPN to call your own

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate
      I`ve setup my PPTP VPN on a Linksys WRT54GL. It`s not so complicated, the hard part is to rewrite the built in firmware and put DD-WRT on it.
  • RE: A VPN to call your own

    I use a VPN everyday to my work network as do my other colleagues.

    Since we have Windows, we just turned it on. That was the extent of the technical difficulty.
  • Another vote for Witopia

    I also use Witopia and recommend it. They offer PPTP for cheap and both PPTP and SSL for a bit more money.
    Michael Horowitz
    • Security issues

      PPTP is very insecure - even microsoft say so ( http://t.co/0PZThItL ). I think its better to use a service like Hushtunnel ( http://www.hushtunnel.com ) which is SSH (more secure than SSL) and its offered at the most basic account level. IF you shop around there are some good VPN services out there at reasonable prices. Don't settle for mediocre or poor services.
  • RE: A VPN to call your own

    Hi,<br><br>My choice is Privacy <strong><a href="http://vpnprivacy.com" target="_blank">VPN service</a></strong> <br>They are pretty good.
  • RE: A VPN to call your own

    Being looking for someone to provide a <a href="http://www.interoute.com/enterprise/vpn">VPN UK</a> service. Either browser based or for via a closed network. Anyone know of a good one?
  • News flash! Want a VPN of your very own? Go buy one!

    Stupid me!

    I thought your article was going to tell me how to set up my own VPN.
    Instead, I get an article (?) that says "Want your very own VPN? Go out and buy the service."

    I really like the way you totally blow away any responsibility on your part to INFORM US AS TO HOW TO DO THIS, with the condescending remark "All these require at least some technical expertise to set up. But, what if you?re all thumbs when it comes to technology...".
    Major clue, 007, and ZDNet: people who are "all thumbs when it comes to technology" aren't reading ZDNet. We're reading ZDNet to get meaty, solid information on technology, and HOW TO DO NEW THINGS. SURPRISE!!

    I don't need you to tell me to hire a contractor to wire my home for a home network.

    I don't need you to tell me to have a screwdriver shop put together all those components I just bought for a new PC.

    Get the idea? I didn't think so.

    You keep up this crap and the only people who DO read ZDNet will be the ones who are "...all thumbs when it comes to technology. Your choice, SJVN, ZDNet, and your advertisers.

    By the way, all us aspiring journalists deeply appreciate the secret of how to break into the business, and the template you use for writing articles.

    Here's some ideas for a couple of real attention-getters for you, ZDNet, and your advertisers which ought to keep us non-technological boneheads on the edges of our seats: "Own Your own Server"; and "Have Your Very Own Ubuntu Netbook".

    And you really get PAID to do this?
  • RE: A VPN to call your own

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  • StrongVPN

    i tried StrongVPN and it works but now i was forced to replace my credit card because they keep withdrawing money for fees.
    Of course there is a cancelation request form but thats bullsh*t.
    So watch out
  • Another good addition

    Yeah VPN has been the best fix. I got this highspeedVPN my buddy is using. Check it out I've been using it for a while and it's pretty good so far! You can get it from Highspeed VPN
  • expressvpn.biz

    I think expressvpn.biz should be on this list. They are the most secure and reliable I have tried. Their support is great too and their servers are more than I need.
  • VPN

    I found a better VPN solution https://www.waselpro.com/en/ with anonymous and secure account
    Dina Afifi