VPN Options for Mobile Devices | Page 2

At this point your information is no longer protected by the VPN, and is therefore theoretically insecure. But in practice Internet traffic is only really vulnerable when it passed over the air between your device and the wireless equipment at the Wi-Fi hotspot you are using. Using a VPN to a VPN service provider protects your data during the insecure part of its journey at the Wi-Fi hotspot.

If you use an iPhone (or iPod Touch), a Palm OS device or a Windows CE, Pocket PC or Windows Mobile handheld, try HotSpotVPN. This service offers an economical solution called HotSpotVPN-1 for $3.88 per day or $8.88 per month. iPhone and Windows CE users simply fill in user name and password information in their device's PPTP VPN software, while Palm OS users (including Treo phones) need to purchase a PPTP VPN software client called MergicVPN from Mergic for $29.99.

The company also offers a servicecalled OpenVPN, which costs $10.88 per month. It is used with Windows Mobile devices (using client software available at http://ovpnppc.ziggurat29.com/ovpnppc-main.htm) and Nokia N770, N800 and N810 devices (using the software at http://guerby.org/ftp/nokia800-deb/), as well as Windows, OS X and Linux based laptops. It also includes the HotSpotVPN-1 service as a free bonus.

A similar OpenVPN-based service is offered by WiTopia for $39.99 per year, and this also includes a free PPTP service for iPhone, iPod Touch, Palm OS and Windows devices.

iPhone and iPod Touch users can get an even better deal using HotSpot Shield. This service, which is completely free, offers another type of VPN called an L2TP VPN. The client was added to the iPhone and iPod Touch with the second version of firmware released this summer. In theory, L2TP is a more secure type of VPN than PPTP. Getting a login and password at http://hotspotshield.com/clientless/iphone/ and entering it into either Apple device takes less than a couple of minutes.

A free alternative to using a VPN service is to run VPN server software on your office or home computer —as long as it has a permanent Internet connection. If you run a VPN under this scenario, all the traffic from your mobile device is encrypted and sent to your office or home computer securely. From there you can access files stored on your computer or other machines connected to it in your home or office, or the traffic can go out through your home or office Internet connection on to any other destination on the Internet.

Again, anyone at the wireless Internet hotspot you are using will be unable to read your traffic as it goes through the air from your mobile device towards your VPN server.

For a PPTP VPN server this is not as complicated as it sounds as many operating systems including Windows XP and Vista have a PPTP VPN server built in. (For instructions on how set up the PPTP VPN server in Windows, see http://www.onecomputerguy.com/networking/xp_vpn_server.htm

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