I've just read the article in PCA reviewing free VPN's. It includes a useful 'tinyurl' link but I'm still a little confused. I understand that data is encrypted on its way to a VPN's server that could be anywhere in the world, making it virtually impossible to trace. Would a VPN help with security when I'm online banking for example? Would the bank recognise the encrypted request, eg: to check my balance, make transactions, and even using paypal? Or am I barking up the wrong tree here?
"Would a VPN help with security when I'm online banking for example?"
No it wouldn't. Your data is fully encrypted before it even leaves your PC so there's no need to encrypt it even further. The same applies to all HTTPS sites that are used for online shopping (including PayPal) and banking etc. It's a highly secure system.
VPNs are good for those folk who want a website to think they're in a different country and/or want everything encrypted because they don't want the government (or anyone else who may try to intercept their data) to know what they're up to and which websites they're visiting.
tony-guitar: VPNs are (for me) mostly useful when I'm travelling abroad. There is some content - the BBC web site is a good example - that is uniquely available to those in the UK. If I'm in e.g. Italy and want to access content as if I was in the UK, a VPN is a good way of achieving that.
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