By Scott Baughman

In 1984 Rockwell sang “It always feels like somebody’s watching me” and had a huge hit on his hands – with a little assist from the King of Pop Michael Jackson on that oh-so-catchy chorus. But there’s no way either M.J. or Rockwell could have known that their burgeoning sense of paranoia back in the 1980s would seem downright quaint here in our current era of people’s lives being lived almost entirely in public view online. 

Yes, almost every aspect of your life today is processed, parsed and populated via the Internet. You would be hard-pressed to find a way to make it through one day without using the Internet in some form or fashion. Credit card processing, email, social media and of course the processing of voice-over-Internet-protocol phone calls and text messaging are all examples of how the Internet become ubiquitous in our daily lives. And this is to say nothing of the regular Google search you might do on trivia night or the average amount of web traffic.

And have you ever stopped to think about who else might be snooping on YOUR connection to the web? If you’re now humming that catchy chorus from Rockwell and finding your paranoia increasing, fear not, dear reader as I’ve got good news for you – the VPN!

What’s the vice-president got to do with this, you ask? Not THAT kind of VP, readers! The Virtual Private Network is the cure for what ails you with regard to Internet privacy. So, what’s a Virtual Private Network and how does it do this? I’m so glad you asked!

A Virtual Private Network is essentially a virtual, encrypted pathway between your computer and the rest of the Internet. Using the VPN your computer is connected to a remote server and all of your Internet traffic is routed through the virtual pathway. In this way, your data is safe from those who are trying to intercept it as the pathway between the remote server and your computer is secured. But that’s not all, with the VPN your IP – or Internet Protocol – address appears to be the IP of the VPN computer and the remote server. So not only is your data secure, but hackers and other ne’er-do-wells cannot hack your location and find your point of connection.

Then, when your data reaches the VPN server it is exited out onto the regular public Internet and behaves just as it would if you had connected to the Internet without a VPN. If the server you’re connecting to does a secure connection – or HTTPS – it will still be a secure connection. 

But it’s more than that. If you use public WiFi you know, or at least SHOULD know, of all the risks associated with it. But if you’ve got a VPN you can be safe in the knowledge that no one will be able to intercept your data via the public WiFi. This includes hackers or criminals or even the operators of the public WiFi in question. Sometimes you’ll see a connection just waiting for you out there in the wild and think to yourself “Sweet, free WiFi!” But remember, be skeptical of networks you freely connect to – just because it’s called “Starbucks_WiFi” doesn’t mean it’s actually run by the coffee shop. 

There are plenty of VPN clients out there to choose from so I won’t spend time reviewing them here. But keep in mind that you can also use VPNs not only on your home PC but also on your Cell Phone and tablets. And the next time you feel somebody’s watching you? Just take comfort in your anonymity – courtesy of the VPN! 

Until next time, download complete.