Virtual private networks (also known as VPNs) are designed to shield personal information going back and forth over your internet connection by creating an encrypted “tunnel” for the data to pass through between your computer (or device) and the VPN server. If you do not have a secure connection — especially on a public wireless network that anyone could use — online intruders could potentially spy on the websites you visit and even steal passwords and other credentials you enter. Using a VPN while connected to any unprotected public access network is generally advised for information safety.
Browsing the web over a VPN can be slow, and not all online services work through the connection. For travelers, using a virtual private network on a cruise ship — which typically uses a satellite internet connection at sea — can be frustrating because some cruise lines do not support VPN services or allow only certain types of connections. Banking sites tend to have their own security, and using a VPN connection may require you to re-enter your bank login credentials.