I think everyone will have a VPN account in the future although it may be known under another name (ed: they’d still have to pay for it though otherwise it would be unsustainable). At the moment, it still comes across as being far too ‘techy’ and many people don’t really understand why it is needed. Most users know they are not fully safe in a public Wi-Fi network but they aren’t aware the solution if someone wants to hack them is to use a VPN or to create their own network.
In the future, it is something that could be addressed by OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), such as chip manufacturers, that could integrate a VPN technology (or something akin to it) into the device. It could also be that companies like ours that supply public Wi-Fi will provide the infrastructure to give a super safe solution. It is not easy to do but is something that is on our business roadmap to start working on in the next 12 months.
We would encourage everyone to use a VPN. At the moment it is a little like when the cloud came in and people didn’t really understand it at first. Now, the cloud is well known and people are happy to use it. There needs to be more education about VPN and at the moment adoption is the biggest issue. The technology itself is pretty solid and I think it could become standard in the same way https is recognised. A logo on a website could let the end user know they are secure, this would increase awareness without the need to actually understand how it works.
About potential issues
If there isn’t a widespread take up of VPN, there could be a lot of problems. Ultimately it is about keeping your online system safe and as we get more integrated things like Amazon’s Alexa, heating systems, as well as home computers will be vulnerable to attack. The biggest challenge I see with VPN takeup however will be around people operating outside their regulatory domain. As an example, the BBC iPlayer is a public service in the UK being accessed by people outside the country or if there is criminal activity it can be almost impossible to pinpoint. You should only be able to access the VPN within your local domain. Their needs to be some sort of control or regulator in some way.
About positive aspects
Aside from keeping individuals and their details safer, VPN also works well for business. Many local authorities are already using it and this is a great example of where it really works well. Using a work laptop, they can be in touch with headquarters quite easily and securely. I think this will happen more and more and it reduces the risk of data being accessed from outside quite significantly.
Patrick Clover, founder, BLACKBX
Image Credit: Flickr / Mike MacKenzie
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