Outsmarting the Internet: Technology Tips for Expats
Article by Nora Wallenius.
As someone who does not consider herself very “technology savvy,” I tend to shy away from all talk relating to computers, codes, and the workings of the Internet. Basically, if I can check Facebook, I don’t really care how the rest works, right? Wrong, so wrong. When you are living in a foreign country, dealings on the Internet may not be as simple as they seem. How am I affected as an expat living in Argentina by the Internet security standards here and international site access? A lot more than I ever realized.
Many expats wonder why they would need a VPN, a virtual private network, if there are basically no restrictions on the Internet in Argentina. For the most part in Argentina, the Internet is relatively open and free to those who live here or visiting. This means that most websites are available online, except for some of my FAVORITE websites (more on that later). The major social media sites are thankfully not restricted, which is mostly what us expats use to keep in touch with our family and friends back home. But some websites are unfortunately not so lucky.
Two of the major reasons to to use a VPN on your device in Argentina are for cyber safety and access to restricted sites. A VPN provides a secure connection via a server and untraceable IP address, basically making you anonymous online. Let me explain a little more about each one.
Argentina is listed in the top 20 countries when comparing the world rates of cyber crime. The most popular types of cyber crime in Argentina are those malware, virus and attacks that allow a hacker to remotely access your computer. These criminals have the methods to take control of all your files, read your personal emails, messages and basically take over your entire computer or mobile device without you even knowing it. Big uh-oh.
A VPN basically strengthens the security on your device while connected to the Internet. It is overwhelmingly common in Buenos Aires to use public Wifi areas at cafes and restaurants, anyone using that connection can hack into your device. Even when you are connected to a work network via your own connection, you are still susceptible to threats. This is especially important for those who work from home on a laptop or a shared working space.
With a VPN, you no longer have to worry that someone can find and hack into your connection. Since your IP address is untraceable it is impossible for anyone else to access your connection. I would recommend HideMyAss, one of the best VPN’s on the market. HideMyAss offers one server in Buenos Aires that offers 58 IP addresses to choose from. The VPN works with most major operating systems, mobile devices and desktop/laptop computers. This way you know all of your most valuable information is kept safe and secure, all over the globe.
Access to Restricted Sites
Some of my personal favorite websites are restricted in Argentina, many times imposed by the restrictions of the site’s limited election of audience countries. The reasons for these restrictions vary, many times due to licensing agreements with movie and television studios in the US. For example Hulu, a popular website for watching TV shows, is only available in the US and Japan. Even US citizens living abroad are not allowed to use the site, even if they pay for Hulu Plus services. Another popular site Netflix, great for watching movies or entire seasons of TV shows, has specific restrictions based on the country you are located. The streaming service is available in 50 countries, but Netflix’s content licenses can vary by country. For example, a show that is available on Netflix in the US might not be available in Argentina. Music streaming sites like Pandora or some satellite radio stations are also only available in the US. Music lovers cry as they find they are unable to access their personalized play-mixes. All of these sorrows can be resolved with three simple letters- VPN. With a VPN, the website does not know where the IP address comes from, basically making you a nomad with no territory. You will be able to gain access to these sites, as if you were in the country where the content is unrestricted. Hooray for TV addicts all over the world!
Although I am no technology wizard, I recognize the importance of Internet knowledge in the digital age. Now back to watching Breaking Bad on Netflix.