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Doug Kaye's thoughts on web services, web hosting and managed services.

A Great VPN for Travelers Would you pay $8.88/month to make your WiFi and hotel-room broadband connections secure? And suppose you could configure it in less than three minutes (I'm not kidding!) without downloading a single piece of software? That's what this cool new service does, and I really like it.

I admit it -- I've been bad. I've traveled around the world using WiFi and CAT5 broadband connections in hotel rooms, airports, and coffee shops, knowing full well how easy it was for others to capture my usernames, passwords, and other personal data. I knew I should have been using a VPN.

Now I'm heading for the O'Reilly Emerging Technology conference where everyone is connected by WiFi, and sniffing is de rigeur. I need encryption; I need a VPN.

I first went out and bought a Netgear FVS318 router for $150 because I knew it could handle a few IPsec tunnels. It took a few hours to get it working in combination with my existing WiFi access point, cable modem, and various devices on the LAN. The normal setup is a piece of cake; I just have a few oddball config issues here. But when it came time to connect to my new VPN server I discovered I needed to download a $149 third-party client! Whoa...I thought Windows XP had an IPsec client built in. I guess it only works with a Windows server -- not what I had in mind.

So I looked around and came across a new and exciting service: HotSpotVPN. It's run by Glynn Taylor, and it's based on redundant server clusters in Virginia and Los Angeles. You just configure your Mac or PC to use its native (not IPsec) VPN capabilities and point it at the HotSpotVPN servers. Your traffic will be encrypted through the tunnel between your computer and HotSpotVPN. From there it travels normally (in the clear or protected by SSL) to the Internet. Works like a charm.

If I'd kept the Netgear FVS318, my throughout would have been limited by Comcast's 100Kbps upstream speed. With HotSpotVPN, I can run pretty much flat out. Power outages at home now can't kill my remote access to the 'Net. And I can spend $8.88/month for almost three years before I pay more than I would for the traditional solution.
Posted Friday, February 06, 2004 9:20:03 PM   



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