Consumer Watch: More people looking for Internet privacy at home


There are reminders everywhere of tech risks. Using open Wi-Fi networks could put you at risk, but at home private networks aren't as private as you might think.

“There has been raising concern about government surveillance, about identity theft, about more privacy issues cropping up in the news every day. That is what is driving people to take extra steps to protect themselves online,“ says Max Eddy, cyber security expert for PCMag.

That extra privacy comes in the form of a virtual private network, commonly referred to as a VPN. In a survey by PCMag, 52 percent of the people who participated say they are using one.

Think of your computer or phone and the VPN server as being linked through an encrypted tunnel.

“Everything inside that tunnel cannot be seen by anyone trying to take a look at it, so your ISP (internet service provider), or anyone snooping on the network you might be using, won't be able to see a thing,” says Eddy.

Other than privacy, another reason more people are using VPNs is video streaming. PCMag says a user can "spoof" or fake their location, and get access to content not available in their home country. Streaming services like Netflix and Hulu can have different content by country.

Most of these VPN services cost between $9 and $12 a month.

PCMag favorites are:

  1. Nord VPN: service and features.
  2. Private Internet Access: solid and inexpensive
  3. Tunnelbear VPN: user friendly and well there are bears.

There are some free VPN subscriptions, but what you are able to access might be limited. You might have a cap on your data, which could create a problem if you are trying to do a lot of video streaming.

PCMag says they like the Proton VPN because it's a free service that doesn't cap your data.

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