Do you scout out local free WiFi hotspots before vacationing in a new place? Do you only stay at hotels with free wireless access? Most of us do . . . but would you check your bank accounts from one of these public networks?
Public WiFi networks have given us nearly constant access to the Internet, which we love, but they leave our personal information vulnerable if we are daft (or desperate) enough to enter our passwords or contact information while surfing.
Any kid with wireless sniffing tools can steal your information in seconds - and these tools are not hard to find. We could all use an extra line of protection when we absolutely must use a public WiFi network.
FreeVPN (www.thefreevpn.com) is a small program that provides an extra layer of protection for surfing by creating a Virtual Private Network where you connect to one of their servers before opening a browser connected to a public network. They have servers in several countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, Sweden, France and China.
Once connected, FreeVPN appears next to your system clock so you know you are surfing safely.
There are both free and paid server options - free servers redirect your browser?s homepage to a page where FreeVPN has Google Adsense advertisements, while paid servers are without advertisements. This is what the advertisement page looks like:
For those who are just using the program to surf on a public network once in awhile, these ads are fairly unobtrusive. But, for those who need protection all day everyday, and for those who want to use a VPN to download torrents, the paid option might be worth the $60 investment.
There are several free programs that do what FreeVPN does, but FreeVPN has an added option most of the others do not: the ability to watch television on Hulu in countries where Hulu is blocked. All you need to do is connect to a USA server where Hulu is enabled - and these are available in both free and paid modes.
For those of us who are addicted to BBC shows, but reside in the United States, FreeVPN allows us to connect to the United Kingdom server and then watch our favorite shows directly from the BBC Web site.
FreeVPN works with all versions of Windows since Windows 2000, as well as the iPhone and the upcoming iPad.
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LAST UPDATED 3/11/2010