VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) are one of the best security tools available today. See my earlier articles about VPNs by starting at https://privacyblog.com/category/vpn-virtual-private-networking/.
VPNs are available in all sorts of configurations. Some VPNs are pieces of software you install in your Windows, Macintosh, Chromebook, Android, iPad, or smartphone that protects that one device. Other VPNs may be hardware boxes you install in your company’s data center to protect all the computers in the company’s location. There are various other combinations as well.
In this article, I will ignore hardware VPN devices as they are generally installed in corporate offices by network administrators. Instead, this article will focus on one particular software VPN that YOU can install yourself.
A few VPN softare products are free although the free services tend to be very difficult to set up, requiring the services of an experienced network administrator to get everything just right. Luckily, there is one exception that I will describe in this article.
You can find many different software VPN products that cost $30 to $75 per year and are available from Hide My Ass!, Private Internet Access (PIA), Witopia, and probably a few dozen other companies as well. The products requiring payment tend to be much easier to install and configure than the free products.
There is one software VPN that really impresses me. It has to be one of the best-kept secrets in computers.
First of all, this software VPN is available FREE of charge for a single user. (It may incur modest fees if used by dozens of users simultaneously, such as in a corporate office.) It offers top-notch industrial-grade security. It is not difficult to install. I don’t recommend it for computer novices but if you are comfortable with installing computer software, you probably can install this one in ten minutes or so. The instructions are very clear.
Oh yes, it it is a VPN service created by and managed by a company you undoubtedly have heard of: Amazon.
Detailed instructions, written in non-technical English, are available detailing How to setup your own private, secure, free VPN on the Amazon AWS Cloud in 10 minutes. Look at http://bit.ly/2qPa9Fn.
The Amazon Web Services (AWS) VPN product is very secure, provides privacy, provides anonymity, unblocks websites, overcomes geographical restrictions, and so on. Best of all, it creates no logs. Whatever you do in the AWS VPN remains private. Nobody else can see what you are doing, not even the systems support people at Amazon can see your data.
Amazon offers VPN servers in 9 Amazon AWS data centers around the world: North Virginia, Oregon, California, Ireland, Frankfurt, Singapore, Tokyo, Sydney, and São Paulo. That’s a much smaller number of remote access points than some of the other VPN providers but more than enough for my purposes.
The biggest downside of the Amazon Web Services (AWS) VPN product that I can see is that there is no technical support. You are on your own. Then again, nobody should be surprised at the lack of support for a product that is FREE. If it fails and you are unable to find a solution, you can always simply stop using it and go back to whatever solution you used previously.
I followed the instructions at http://bit.ly/2qPa9Fn and soon had the VPN installed in my Macintosh. The instructions claim you can have it up and running with ten minutes. I guess I am slow; it took me 12 minutes even though I already had an AWS account that I have been using for years for other purposes. I didn’t have to take the time to create a new account, saving a few minutes.
I later installed configured the same VPN for use on my Android “smartphone.” I guess experience helps; this time I finished the task in 9 minutes.
I will strongly suggest you read the instructions slowly two or three times before starting your first installation.
Again, the instructions for creating your own VPN are available at http://bit.ly/2qPa9Fn and the price for most individual users is: FREE.
I am satisfied with my new, free VPN. “It just works.” It sits more-or-less invisibly, protecting my online connections all the time.
For the advanced or corporate user, Amazon AWS also offers the capability to add hardware VPN devices in your office to the AWS VPN service. However, doing so requires quite a bit of technical knowledge. I won’t describe the process in this article. If you are an experienced network administrator, you can read more in the Amazon AWS web site at http://docs.aws.amazon.com/AmazonVPC/latest/UserGuide/vpn-connections.html.