Trial and Error: VPN Continues to Disappoint

The last time I wrote I said I would be trying Nord VPN to see how well it worked to allow me to access bank and office email when traveling. Today, I’ll tell you why I gave up using it. This may tell you more about me, however, than about Nord VPN. My primary reason for using an IPN was to be able to access bank sites from hotel rooms. (I’d hate to think the stock market fell and I couldn’t sweat the details that evening!)

I found it too difficult to use such sites after I logged in. Many times, my fix to turn the VPN on to log in then turn it off to download transactions into my financial software. Some banks regard the use of an IPN as a red flag for fraud, particularly if you appear to be logging in from a foreign country.

(I haven’t found that myself).

I looked on the internet to see what I could do and was disheartened by the complexity of it all.

Maybe I am spoiled by the ease of using an iPhone but I was hoping this would work without having to troubleshoot settings.

Bottom line: VPNs do not appear to be a ready and easy way to safely use unprotected Wi-Fi connections. Your cellular phone connection is safe.

(I sure hope so.)

If you can’t use your laptop via cellular, you can use your phone to change your password, use laptop on an unsecure network, then use phone to change password back.

(Or am I missing some other problem?)

Beware the Pitfalls of Public WiFi

Public Wi-Fi’s may seem harmless, as users connect to them every day in coffee shops, airports, bars and other places. But most users do not realize the extent to which their personal information, passwords, logins and other sensitive data are left exposed when connecting to an unsafe public WiFi network. While not all such connections are dangerous, you can never be confident that your information is secure when you use one. Thus, for example, as tempting as it might be, you should not access your financial accounts or make credit card purchases over public WiFi. That is, unless you use a VPN (virtual private network).

VPN (virtual private network) service providers can create secure connections between the Internet and the Internet user device, whether the user is connected at home, the office or using Public WiFi. Because Internet traffic that is encrypted is difficult to crack, a VPN can make using public WiFi considerably safer.

Note that I said that a VPN “can” create a secure connection and “can” make using public WiFi safer. That is because not all do. Many use outdated technology that can be readily hacked. Thus, a 2015 study reported that 11 of 14 commercial VPNs were vulnerable to hacking.1

So what is one to do? If you try to research VPN providers you soon run into a salad of acronyms that are likely only understood by those who already know what to do about Internet security. For example, you would learn that a secure VPN must protect IPv6, as well as IPv4 and that “all desktop VPN clients tested, except for Private Internet Access, Mullvad and VyprVPN, leak the entirety of IPv6 traffic.”2 See what I mean?

I failed at trying to understand the technology. But I found an easy answer in a current article in PC Magazine.3 This article rated several VPN providers favorably. I’m giving one a try and will let you now how it goes next time.


1 V.C. Perta, M.V. Barbera, G. Tyson, H. Haddadi, and A. Mei, A Glance through the VPN Looking Glass: IPv6 Leakage and DNS Hijacking in Commercial VPN clients, Proc. Privacy Enhancing Tech., 2015 (1): 77–91 (available online at
2 Id. at 81.
3 The Best VPN Services of 2017, PC Magazine (Nov. 27, 2017) (available online at,2817,2403388,00.asp).