I just got back from a week in Beijing, China. You may know that China blocks access to many American websites, such as the New York Times. So how did I read the Times online while I was there?
The solution is the same one as the one I use when I’m in Starbucks or the library, using their public wifi but still wanting to keep my info secure.
It’s called VPN. Which stands for “Virtual Private Network.”
Essentially it means I’m making a secure connection to another computer somewhere in the USA, and that computer is the one going on the internet and getting the web pages I request.
So I’m logged on to the “private network” of another location, but because I’m not physically there, it’s “virtual.” Hence the name.
To be able to have this secure access to another network and to the internet, there are two things that need to be set up.
The first is that you need a network to connect to, from your computer or iPhone or iPad. I have a Mac Mini server in my office, and that server is set up to provide VPN, so I am logging securely into my own server. If you don’t have a server, you can pay a monthly fee to a company that provides VPN service.
The second is that you need to set up your computer or iPhone or iPad to get on that VPN. Once it’s set up initially, then it’s easy to reconnect each time you’re on public wifi.
If you need our help setting up VPN for yourself or your office, let us know!
Photo by me (© Caroline Green).