At a Glance
- Provides protection at any Internet service and site; Extremely easy to use; Affordable
Protect yourself with a for-pay virtual private network.
You’ve heard about the Firesheep
Firefox add-in that lets someone with virtually no hacking
experience steal your identity when you visit a number of Web
sites, including Facebook. Here’s more bad news: Firesheep is far
from the only privacy danger out there. There are plenty of
powerful tools that hackers can use to steal private information
from you not just specific Web sites, but wherever you are on the
Web, or when you use other Internet services, such as client-based
e-mail and instant messaging.
The for-pay AlwaysVPN does a great job of keeping you safe no
matter what you do and where you go on the Internet. It uses
Virtual Private Networking technology to encrypt all of your
communications, and it’s especially useful for those who connect at
public Wi-Fi hot spots, where all communications are in the open
and not encrypted.
The AlwaysVPN service uses its own version of the open source
OpenVPN software as a client. When you sign up, you download a
version of OpenVPN to which AlwaysVPN has made changes so that it
works properly with the AlwaysVPN service. (If you already have the
unflavored OpenVPN client, you’ll need to download the AlwaysVPN
version.) Unlike most for-pay VPN services, you don’t have to pay a
monthly or annual fee. Instead, you pay for the total amount of
bandwidth you use. The starting point is $8.50 for 5GB of
bandwidth, and range to 80 GB for $47 for more frequent users.
After you pay and install the software, you connect using the
AlwaysVPN-customized OpenVPN client by right-clicking its icon. You
can choose one of two modes–the AlwaysVPN-Compatible mode, which
is more secure but slightly slower, or the AlwaysVPN mode, which is
slightly less secure but faster. On Windows Vista and Windows 7,
you should run the software as an administrator. When you’re done
using it, right click its icon in the taskbar and disconnect from
the service to avoid paying more more bandwidth than you need.
You can also check how much bandwidth you’ve used for your
account and how much remains by logging in to the AlwaysVPN
AlwaysVPN is inexpensive and simple to use, and given how easily
information can be stolen these days online, it’s the kind of
service that literally anyone should consider. An alternative is
the free Hotspot Shield VPN
software and service. Although Hotspot Shield is free, it delivers
ads, and you need to be careful during its installation that it
doesn’t make changes to your PC that you don’t want. So if you
don’t mind spending a very little bit of money, AlwaysVPN is a
great choice for your data’s safety and your peace of mind.
Note: This link takes you to the vendor’s site,
where you must register to download the software. The options for
buying AlwaysVPN bandwidth are 5GB for $8.50, 10GB for $15.00, 20GB
for $26.00, 40GB for $33.00, 80GB for $47.00.