Why Clinicians Should Use a VPN = Virtual Private Network
According to Wikipedia, “A virtual private network (VPN) extends a private network across a public network and enables users to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if their computing devices were directly connected to the private network.”
This articles summarizes why all clinicians should use a VPN.
For our purposes, a VPN = encryption of your internet communications = increased safety and decreased risk of being hacked.
An easy way to think about encryption and how a VPN works is illustrated by the diagrams below:
This diagram represents you sending an email to a friend or colleague without a VPN.
A metaphor to illustrate what you’re doing would be walking across the street to your neighbor’s house to tell him or her something without any clothing on.
Would you do this, even in Northern California?
VPN provides layers of encryption (= clothing).
It provides more layers than you would put on if you were dressing for a hardcore winter storm i.e. lots and lots of layers:
These layers are difficult for even a good hacker to get through.
A VPN doesn’t guarantee you safety, but it significantly reduces the risk of compromise.
I use two VPNs and like both of them: Tunnel Bear and Private Internet Access.
I like Tunnel Bear because of its clean, user friendly interface; and, if you are on a trip outside the United States, it allows you to watch your favorite television shows or movies on Amazon and Netflix by “tunneling” your computer’s location into the United States.
I like Private Internet Access and use it as my default VPN because it's faster than Tunnel Bear. VPNs may slightly slow your computer’s processing speed.
I recommend having two VPNs because each VPN has idiosyncrasies, which can interfere with internet functioning. For example, Private Internet Access (for me) works only some of the time on my bank's website.