A person holds a phone after activating a virtual private network (VPN) service to access the internet while in Tehran on September 11, 2023. 

| Atta Kenare | AFP

Make VPN your best friend while travelling

Whether you are a tourist exploring foreign lands or a business traveller navigating corporate frontiers, it is imperative to protect your digital identity on the go. Enter Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) — your virtual world's unassuming yet indispensable guardians. Today, let's delve into the essence of VPNs and why, without a doubt, they are the faithful companions travellers’ need.

A VPN, is akin to a digital cloak that shrouds your online activities in a cocoon of security. It accomplishes this feat by forging an encrypted tunnel connecting your device to a remote server, often in a different local or country. This tunnel, impermeable to the prying eyes of hackers, governments, or cybercriminals, becomes the shield that guards your data.

International travellers, especially, find themselves in need of a VPN for one paramount reason: Preserving their digital privacy. Consider those ubiquitous public Wi-Fi networks encountered in hotels, airports and cafes. Convenient as they may be, they also serve as hunting grounds for cyber malefactors. Here, a VPN becomes your armour, rendering your data inaccessible to potential threats. VPNs offer a tantalising solution to another challenge faced by travelers — geo-restrictions. In certain corners of the world, access to some websites, streaming services, or social media platforms may be restricted by censorship or regional limitations. For example, China, Iran, North Korea, Myanmar, Russia and Turkmenistan ban access to Facebook or YouTube. With a VPN, travellers to those countries can bypass these constraints with ease and access their favourite social media sites.

Intrusive surveillance is not confined to hackers; governments and internet service providers can also cast a shadow over your digital life. A VPN gives you the gift of anonymity, making it practically impossible for authorities or ISPs to monitor your online activities, regulate your access to information, or track your every move.

Utilising public Wi-Fi for banking and transactions can be akin to sailing through treacherous waters. A VPN, however, transforms this perilous journey into a secure one, ensuring your financial dealings are conducted over an encrypted channel, resilient to interception and fraud.

VPNs extend their formidable protection to corporate data, guaranteeing that confidential business matters remain precisely confidential. Whether you're connecting from a posh hotel or a remote cafe, the security provided by a VPN ensures that proprietary information remains impenetrable. In a world where our lives are inextricably linked to the digital realm, preserving our online privacy is imperative. For travelers, the stakes are higher as they navigate the unfamiliar landscapes of foreign networks and regulatory environments. In such a scenario, a VPN emerges as the invisible shield, the indefatigable protector of your online identity and data. Some VPNs are freely downloadable from the internet, and others come at a fee. Reading user reviews can held figure out the best one for your needs.

Mr. Wambugu is an accredited expert in cloud and cyber security. Email: [email protected] X: @Samwambugu2