Many office managers think that social networks are only for wasting time– but that just simply isn’t true anymore. Without full access to the web, it’s often impossible to get all your work done. Sometimes, you need to interact with a client on Facebook or access YouTube to find out how to do some kind of important work-related task. Read on to find out how to use a VPN service to bypass your company’s overly strict WiFi restrictions and stay anonymous online when you’re on the clock.
What is a VPN?
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. You can use a VPN to browse the web anonymously and avoid restrictions– even if you’re connected to the internet via your company’s WiFi network.
How does a VPN work?
To understand how a VPN works, think of the internet as an archipelago. Each island represents a different web site. Now imagine that your office’s WiFi is like a network of bridges that allow you to island hop. Without a VPN, your computer has to use the bridge in plain sight.
Network admins are like tower guards equipped with binoculars. They can easily see where everyone is going.
Software tools like StaffCop, WorkExaminer and NetVisor allow admins to take full control of your work computer. Some tools can even be used to snoop on your personal laptop or smartphone if you use it to connect to your company’s network.
But using a VPN is like having access to a submarine. Once you’re under the water, you can enjoy total privacy– and blocked bridges are not a problem.
Ordinarily, your company’s network administrators are able to monitor everything you do online at work. They can pull up your browser history, grab screenshots or block you from going to certain sites. But after you connect to a VPN on your personal device, they have no ability to watch or control of where you go or what you do on the web.
Aren’t VPNs expensive and slow?
Not anymore. The first VPN services that debuted years ago were very sluggish. Also, the software was not very user friendly and the monthly fees were high.
However, VPN technology has made giant leaps in recent years. Modern VPN software is practically invisible. Connection speeds are much, much faster now– and access fees have dropped dramatically.
The VPN service I use– IPVanish— uses a compression algorithm to enhance internet performance. So I actually experience faster service when I’m logged in.
Here’s what the Mac version of the IPVanish software looks like:
All I have to do to connect is press a button. When the IPVanish software is on, it only consumes about 1 percent of my CPU’s processing power. IPVanish’s smartphone apps are just as lightweight and quick as its desktop client.
In-the-know employers realize that “work” and “play” can overlap
According to director of career development at Dominican College Evelyn Fiskaa, the traditional boundaries between “work” and “play” are becoming more and more fluid.
“Millennials don’t mind working at home or the overlap between work and their personal life.”
Most (but by no means all) employers already accept that there is no longer a clear division between leisure time and work time. But if your company doesn’t understand that your duties sometimes require you to log on to Facebook or other social networks, you have two options:
- Catch up at home in your off time
2. Use a VPN service to override your company’s WiFi blocks at work
Keep in mind that if your company has blocked access to a particular site, they probably won’t appreciate it if you use a VPN to go there– even if you have a good reason.
You should ask your human resources contact what your company’s position on VPNs is before you attempt to log in to a VPN at the office. Some employers encourage employees to use VPN services, but others do not.
The benefits of using a VPN at work
If you log in to the web via your work network, your company can prevent you from visiting certain sites– or even monitor everything you do. Your boss can easily snap screenshots of your chats, log your browsing history or even capture your keystrokes. Your company owns the network, so they have the right to monitor everything you do while you’re connected to it.
If you complain about a coworker to a friend online while you’re connected to the web at work, anyone with the right credentials can find out what you’ve written. Once if you log into a VPN, though, there’s no way for anyone to see what you’re doing– and there is no way to restrict your internet access.
Even IT security pros don’t have a catch-all answer for blocking VPNs. Founder of IT consultancy firm Atomic Fission Dave Torre says that encryption software makes it virtually impossible to monitor and block employees when they’re logged into the network.
“Once you have no visibility, you can do whatever you want.”
Employees who use IPVanish together with the ultra secure Tor browser are practically invisible. There is no way to stop them from browsing the web anonymously.
Are VPNs legal?
VPNs are not only totally legal– they’re becoming essential. Without a VPN, you’re exposed to hackers that monitor and exploit unprotected internet users. If you browse the web without protection, cybercriminals can steal your credit card number, lock down your computer or even blackmail you.
Still, some companies would rather not let their employees access VPN servers. VPNs allow restriction-free access to the entire web from anywhere. That’s why some companies have implemented blocks that make it impossible for employees to connect to certain VPN networks.
If you want to see if IPVanish is for you, just sign up for a free trial and try it out yourself. If you can’t use it at work just cancel, get your money back and try out a different VPN service.
How do VPNs work?
VPN software establishes an encrypted path between your computer and a VPN server. With your computer connected to the VPN server, your stream of information looks like gobbledygook to any other 3rd parties monitoring your network. But without a VPN connection, anyone can easily see what you’re up to.
Why I use IPVanish
My personal favorite VPN network is IPVanish. I don’t log on to the web anymore without it. Whenever I’m working or using a public WiFi network, I always connect first before I use the internet.
Many other VPN services that I’ve tried bogged down my connection speed. But I actually experience faster connections when I’m logged in to IPVanish. Here are a few more things about IPVanish that I like:
- Multi-Device SupportIPVanish has apps for your android box, computer and mobile devices.
- Complete PrivacyNo one (including your ISP) can see what you’re watching. End to end encryption.
- No LogsIPVanish does not collect or log any traffic or use of its VPN service.
- 7-Day Money-Back GuaranteeTest it out! See the difference or get your money back.
Bonus: AddonHQ readers will also receive 25% off their first month’s payment on any plan.