Staying safe online when you're
exploring The North

When you come up to see the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and Northern Wisconsin, there's a rich variety of cultural and historical things to see and even more for the outdoors type to indulge themselves.

Whether you want to stay in a log cabin, budget motel or luxury accommodation, the chances are you're going to be using your smartphone data or connecting from Wi-Fi to help plan your days and to keep in touch with folks back home.

Unfortunately, as pristine as it is here, we can't stop cyber crooks from muscling in on the internet. That's why anyone taking a vacation should always take precautions such as using a USA VPN whenever you're away from home.

A VPN (virtual private network) works in a simple way, by placing an intermediary server between the user's device and the wider internet. This 'middleman' connection is encrypted and anonymizes the user's location and identity. Together with that encryption, all reputable VPN provider servers carry state-of-the-art cyber security software as standard, thus helping users to avoid malware and viruses, together with gaining advantages that are inherent in remaining anonymous and 'location cloaked' when online.

Let's look at a few of the benefits offered by VPN usage:

Wi-Fi hotspot safety

Imagine you're taking a camper up to the Nicolet National Forest or to the copper mining areas of Keweenaw National Historic Park. You pull over on I32 at a diner somewhere. You order a coffee and a light bite to eat. You open your laptop to connect to the free Wi-Fi. There are no other buildings for miles so no password is required, you just log on using your email address. The first thing you get is a welcome email from the proprietors, offering you a free coffee on your next visit.

But when you open that email - your laptop is immediately infected with spyware. Unbeknown to you, for the rest of your laptop's lifetime, all your keystrokes are being recorded. But how did that happen?

It's nothing to do with the proprietor of the diner. Cyber criminals often choose such places to pull over in the parking lot and set up a Wi-Fi hotspot on their own devices, masquerading as the diner's Wi-Fi. But if you had installed a VPN browser extension on your device, it would have disconnected you from that hotspot the instant it detected the malware. That would have been worth installing the VPN in itself. But there are more benefits.

Cheaper flights and accommodation

Having spent some time in the beautiful backwoods of Northern Michigan, you might want to continue your vacation by heading on into Canada, maybe deciding to spend a few days in Winnipeg. If you don't use a VPN, any accommodation or flight reseller portal you visit online has artificial intelligence (AI) driven analytics software, which immediately identifies your location by your IP address, and also the device and browser that you're using.

If searching for hotel accommodation in Canada, but accessing the internet from the US, once you choose a hotel, the portal will offer you to pay in $USD - and the exchange rates these websites offer are never advantageous. However, if you were to use a VPN, you could effectively access the web by logging on via a Canadian server of your choice. The portal would then automatically offer the price seen in Canadian dollars (CA$), and your credit card company's exchange rate will be way better than that offered by the payment receiving website. There's a few more bucks saved…

Keeping up to date with your favorite TV shows and box-sets

Another advantage of using a VPN is side-stepping geographical content restriction on streaming provider websites.

If you're headed up to Canada after a visit to Minnesota, you might be inspired to binge watch ‘Fargo' the famous TV series set in that fair state. But once across the border you can't access that content, as it was removed from Netflix Canada in late 2022. However, if you use a VPN on your device, you can access the internet from a US based IP address and stream from Netflix US. Another advantage of a VPN, allowing you to choose wherever you appear to be in the world.

Avoid data throttling

Once you're back home from your trip, you might find that you want to upload and share lots of video content of your vacation. All of a sudden, your data transfer rate on your home internet connection goes through the roof. All those handheld smartphone moose-movies don't half take up some bandwidth! Then you find that your internet connection slows down to a crawl, as your internet service provider (ISP) has 'throttled' your connection due to it detecting your over-usage.

But if you'd use your VPN, even your ISP can't tell who is accessing the internet - so it can't slow down your connection - it doesn't know who you are, nor where you're located.

All in all, whether you're on vacation or staying at home planning one, a VPN on all your internet connected devices keeps you safe and can save you money. We look forward to seeing you up here in the Upper Peninsula!