Secure Public Wi-Fi with a VPN: Is it possible?

Internet VPN

Do you think you are safe when accessing public Wi-Fi? If you’re not using additional cybersecurity tools, then I’m afraid you’re not. While public Wi-Fi can be incredibly convenient, if you connect to the Internet in a coffee shop or hotel, you could fall into the clutches of cybercriminals.

Public Wi-Fi networks are the perfect target for hackers – most lack basic network security measures. If you want to enjoy the convenience of free public Wi-Fi without putting yourself at risk, you need a VPN.

Will a VPN protect you on public Wi-Fi?

A VPN is one of the most secure methods you can use to protect your devices. It sends your traffic through an encrypted tunnel, making it extremely difficult to decrypt. With a VPN app  like on the devices you use to connect to a public network, you can use this encryption on the go.

The dangers of public Wi-Fi

The main goal of any hacker is to gain access to your personal data. For example:

  • Your email login.
  • Your banking information.
  • Your private photos and videos.
  • Your home address.

And these are just some of the things hackers can do to take advantage of public Wi-Fi:

  • Evil Twin Attack. Cybercriminals can create fake Wi-Fi networks to trick you into connecting to them. You would probably connect to a public Wi-Fi network bearing the name of a cafe you visit without knowing that a hacker runs it.
  • Injecting malware. An insecure connection can cause hard-to-detect malware to sneak into your computer. It can steal your bandwidth, corrupt your system, and give hackers a backdoor to all your files.
  • Man-in-the-middle. The cybercriminal places their device between the connection with your device and the Wi-Fi spot. This allows them to monitor your activity and even control your traffic, possibly redirecting you to their website to trick you into entering your credentials or banking information.
  • Wi-Fi sniffing. With simple and legal software, a hacker can monitor and record all data packets that pass through a Wi-Fi network.
  • Improving public Wi-Fi with a VPN connection will help you avoid the above threats. The encryption process effectively shields all your data from prying eyes.

How to stop a hacker on public Wi-Fi

The most important way to prevent hackers from getting into your devices and disrupting your Internet connection over a public network is to educate yourself. If you are aware of the risks coming your way, you can prevent them. Here are the things you should be mindful of:

  • Disable automatic connections. If you regularly use every public Wi-Fi hub you can find, you may accidentally connect to a network you hadn’t planned on.
  • Don’t connect to public Wi-Fi carelessly. If you’re using the public Wi-Fi network of a popular coffee chain, ask the staff for the exact name to look for.
  • Don’t log into sensitive accounts. If you’re connected to a public Wi-Fi network, don’t use the connection to access accounts with sensitive information. If a hacker is snooping on that network, your data may have just been intercepted.
  • Turn off file sharing and check your firewall. Simple controls that are often overlooked. While file sharing is helpful on your network at home, it’s just bad news on a public Wi-Fi network. Make sure your anti-malware software is active as well.
  • Get a VPN because your data needs to be protected. With VPN security, you can enjoy the convenience of public Wi-Fi without the risks. A VPN also hides your IP address by connecting you to a VPN server rather than one owned by your ISP. This means that third parties won’t be able to track your activities.
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