facebook storyWe are proud to present true story, wrote for one of our famous HideIPVPN Facebook contests. If you are our Fan at Facebook than you know (if you are not “shame on you” ;-) )about our quick & simple giveaways of Free VPN accounts for your comments and activity. This one was supposed to be such a quick and short comment for this post/contest.  Story by Cris Gosling (highlights & links added by HideIPVPN with Cris consent)

YES – in short, you need a VPN in any country not just the US. 

I can only speak from my own personal experiences. I have lived and worked in Australia, Asia (which includes) China, the US and now England. In yesterday’s world, we had to only worry about laptops, virii, malware, and security updates (which still exists today) but we now live in a world where we now all carry tablets and/or cell phones. Basically, complex miniature computers with WIFI and cloud computing, which contain information that is vital in our daily communications and interaction with others. Some people may not or don’t value the security of the data stored on these devices until it’s lost or stolen, but trust me, once it’s gone, it feels like someone just taken all your personal data without your consent and leaves you feeling angry, violated and guilty for not taking better precautions on how one protected it. 

In my time, I have stupidly used my credit card, checked my banking whilst at airports and in the process forgotten my password and reset my security information using my cell all on a free unsecured network supplied at a major airport mistaking thinking I was safe because it was WIFI being offered by a major and reputable corporation. I mean who doesn’t like a freebie right? It’s almost second nature, to turn on your WIFI on any device and see what’s free and what isn’t. Hell, my cell phone carrier even gives me free WIFI across the country at hotspots across the UK and some places overseas. 

It wasn’t long, when I received a phone call from my bank after arriving at my overseas destination, asking if I have made several purchases overseas, which I hadn’t. I had no idea how this could have happened. I’m the kind of person who when using an ATM, looks over my shoulder, check for scam devices in the reader (which is very common here in the England). I cover the keypad when entering my PIN and when using the card in-store, I refuse to let it out of my sight and it was a nightmare in both time, and phone-calls to get my money back by proving it wasn’t me, not to mention spending money and time joining a credit site and checking daily to see if anyone else has tried to open a credit account in my name etc. I am sure this was linked to my thoughtless use of my card on a free WIFI network whilst travelling. My bad.

After discussing this with a friend, he took me to Starbucks, and told me to bring my laptop. He ran a passive scan using my laptop which had a built in WIFI and packer scanner built in to the core operating system and within a course of a eggnog latte (all hail the festive redcups!) we had captured some personal details of other coffee shop customers (we promptly deleted the all information collected from tablets, laptops and cell phones from the customers in the cafe, saying that’s how easy it is to obtain personal information from unsuspecting users) whilst they were casually sipping their morning brew. That was my lesson on how scary and easy it is for someone to obtain your details as you casually slurp down a coffee and pass time by casually checking things online. 

Not only does a VPN protects your sensitive information, it allows you to use and access the data in many countries that have censorship, be it pervasive or selective censorship and going as far as surveillance internet (yes, people do spy or track on your usage, and if you believe you are totally anonymous and safe, you really do need a reality check) and doing a quick search just now, I’ve found, 98 countries that have censorship of some sort. We take for granted, the ability to check and update one’s Facebook or Twitter feed, but bear in mind, this is not possible for many in the world even with net access. 

Uncensored Internet access should a basic human right, but it isn’t and everyone is entitled to privacy be it at home, or online. I mean, in certain countries, using a VPN may be interpreted as censorship circumvention, to bypass Internet government restrictions, and can get you fired, arrested, jailed or deported. Bet you didn’t think of that hey? 

Which brings me on to the next issue. Whilst it’s important to use a VPN, to protect your online data and access it wherever you are, it’s even more IMPORTANT that you choose a VPN provider that isn’t a “cowboy” act. Bear in mind, I spoke earlier about privacy but seriously, why would you “tunnel” all your private data via a cowboy VPN provider who doesn’t have scruples or principles, as they could access and use all your personal data and passwords you send through their service. When you see “free VPN providers” on the internet. Don’t choose them, shop around reputable providers, read reviews, especially the terms and conditions of use of their services. Try out their VPN and be 100% happy and don’t feel shy about asking as many questions as you need with their customer service or technical department before handing over a single penny or cent and forget providers who just offer a proxy service.

I was lucky enough to win one month’s access of HideIPVPN services not so long ago, for writing an article of my ISP regarding how long they kept logs and my personal information, which horrified me to the point where I changes to a different provider. HideIPVPN provided all the security I needed for my professional and personal online life, and I urge anyone in the market for a VPN provider, to try out their free service first. You can find the link at www.hideipvpn.com 

Unfortunately, I’m temporarily using another VPN provider. Not because HideIPVPN isn’t good, they are bloody brilliant, but since my credit card number and details was out in the wild (and my non-UK bank does not provide, unlike some others, any online protection and money back guarantee) I now refuse to purchase any app on my mobile, tablet and laptop unless I purchase it is through an legitimate app store. I hope this is only a temporary issue, and after several emails with HideIPVPN friendly support, once HideIPVPN has an app store presence in the near future, I will be immediately back using them as my primary VPN provider, as they made my online surfing experience, outside of home, a safer and better experience during the one month trial period.

I even use the VPN when surfing from my 4G or LTE/3G connection. It’s been over a year since my details were leaked online, I’m still paying the price for my mistake and it is possible for someone to jack into your 3G connection if they have the technical know how, hardware and appropriate software. It’s now a habit that I switch on my VPN regardless on how I connect on my cell phone.

The only thing I now joke about, whilst using a VPN, is who’s now looking over my shoulder!

Thank you Cris for very interesting story.