There are many reasons to use a virtual private network, or VPN, not the least of which is your personal data security. VPN’s provide a secure path to the Internet that keeps others from tracking your usage, prevent the recording of your connection’s IP address, and can even “trick” networks into thinking you’re connecting from a country other than the one you’re actually located in at the time.
All of those are great reasons for anyone to use a VPN, but this type of tool is especially handy for military personnel, no matter if they’re stationed at home or abroad. Whether it’s trying to watch Netflix from a foreign deployment base or forwarding a secure communication from a local national contact, a VPN can offer another layer of protection that soldiers can appreciate, no matter what type of connectivity work they’re doing.
Some of the best reasons for active duty military members to employ a VPN can include:
- Signing into sensitive accounts, like online banking or credit card accounts, especially while deployed to a foreign country.
- Engaging in any online communication that requires you to input your Social Security number, driver’s license number, or military ID number.
- Renewing documents like your driver’s license while you’re stationed or deployed overseas.
- Using paid memberships like Netflix or available services like Skype from countries that have blocked those websites for their citizens.
- Relaying sensitive communications to other soldiers or officials in the chain of command, especially with regards to the names or locations of contacts, checkpoints, or other detailed notifications.
- Checking in on social media from places where you don’t want to broadcast your location.
Whether it’s to keep others from prying into your Internet activities or to enable the legitimate use of websites that other countries censor, a VPN is a valuable way to connect in much the same way that you do when you’re back home. A VPN keeps your online behaviors private while the ability to connect through a US or UK tunnel offers you the same capabilities that you enjoy while you’re stateside.
It’s important to remember that there are military-specific VPN’s and that their functions may be somewhat different than those offered to everyday citizens. If you’re assigned a specific VPN to use for military communications, those may be monitored and archived for later evaluation and don’t offer the same types of privacy that the civilian public has; this is to help ensure mission readiness and security, and not an effort to invade our soldiers’ privacy.