A VPN basically ensures that all of your traffic is routed through a private secured local network. Except, instead of that network being in your office or home, the central server is someplace "out there". All traffic to and from "there" is encrypted, so the many hands and eyes that are passing your traffic around can't read it. (In theory, and ignoring certain agencies.)
The pros and cons of using a VPN are first, cost. They are a service
, they are for people who REALLY WANT that service, so they charge for it. Or, bug you with ads, often the kind of ads that give advertising a bad name.
If you are willing to pay the cost (and you can run your own VPN software
on a typical home computer, if you have some location ashore you can set that up in) then the setup is fairly simple these days.
But some web sites, some services, some sailing forums
, will not allow traffic that comes from these VPNs, as they want to know who they are dealing with. So it isn't perfect.
And if you are using a commercial
VPN, you have to ask "Who are those guys?" because yes, they could be spying on your traffic too. So look for one with a good reputation and track record
, not some new guys in eastern Europe
or the Orient. Or Detroit.(G)
As a practical matter, if your email
server and your important web sites (bank, broker) are all using SSL and HTTPS secured formats, you're probably OK, as long as the rest of your traffic is "not worth the effort" for anyone else to impersonate.