When I travel, I’m a one-man show without an IT organization behind me to support my connectivity. That’s particularly frightening at Wi-Fi hotspots, where enterprise users can be secure using their company’s virtual private network (VPN).
One solution for the rest of us is to use service-by-service encryption, such as using SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) for retrieving e-mail messages, but VPNs are better because capture and encrypt all incoming and outgoing data. Combined with a firewall and an anti-virus program, a VPN-equipped laptop can be virtually impregnable.
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Fortunately, while VPNs have previously been the domain of enterprises, publicly available VPNs that you can use for a reasonably low monthly fee are now available for individual travelers. Two in particular, HotSpotVPN and WiTopia’s personal VPN provide different approaches, but both deliver strong security.