By: Peyton Lawson
In Wake County, a firewall blocks apps like Instagram and Snapchat from being used on the wireless network. Students often use a free VPN app to access these apps on the wifi without realizing the potential consequences. VPN stands for virtual private network; yet, some aren’t private at all. The things you do on your phone or laptop on the network is destined to various servers (computers) on the internet. Our school’s firewall (a filter of sorts) can block network traffic going to specific destinations like Snapchat, Netflix, or Instagram.. A VPN gets around this by turning all your network traffic to another server owned by the VPN provider–let’s call them “Company X”. Instead of going to Snapchat, your information would go to Company X first who will then send it to Snapchat, thus preventing the firewall from blocking it. This is dangerous because all of your information is now going to Company X. Company X can then steal your information and identity because you are literally giving them permission to when you agree to the popup saying, “#VPN Would Like to Add VPN Configurations: All network activity on this iPhone may be filtered or monitored while using VPN.”
That being said, there are safe VPNs used by major companies to protect their information; however, these are often expensive to use due to the fact that to make and run a VPN someone has to use their skill and energy to run the VPN. Isn’t it a little sketchy that there are so many free VPN’s? Why would anyone run a truly free VPN if they had nothing to gain from it? Most often, they wouldn’t. A criminal or hacker would have tons to benefit from running a free VPN– all of your personal information. This isn’t to say that all free VPNs are bad– some get money from ads. This is just a warning: using a mysterious free VPN could be the equivalent of giving a hacker your phone and password.