Published March 20th, 2017 by

Why Public WiFi is Not Secure and What You Can Do About It

Public WiFi is very convenient when you’re out and about. It is used by millions of people around the world to get online and browse the web, check their emails, shop online, access their social media accounts, do their online banking and perform hundreds of other online activities. So, where exactly is the problem?

Well, the network is public – and therein lies the problem. It’s the open access nature of the connection that attracts cyber criminals, hackers and snoopers, which in turn compromises the integrity of the network and that of all the laptops, tablets and mobile devices that may be connected to it.

Internet security experts keep warning us all not to use public WiFi hotspots for sensitive information, particularly online banking. While banking services are of course encrypted at the bank’s servers, the public WiFi connection does not have encryption, and that makes the entire communication with your bank vulnerable to cyber attack.

The dangers of free internet

Have you ever heard the saying ‘if something looks too good to be true, then it probably is’? Or ‘there’s no such thing as a free lunch’? Well, this can easily apply to free internet services. While on the face of it, it’s the mark of good customer service for restaurants, shopping centres or cafes to be able to offer free WiFi to their patrons, the dangers are usually not made explicit.

However, the fact of the matter is that public WiFi hotspots make it very easy for cyber fraudsters to track your movements online, and steal your sensitive information, including usernames and passwords, that can leave you exposed to online financial theft and ID theft.

Unless extra security measures are taken – such as log in credentials that are personal to you – WiFi is an unsecured technology consisting of signals and radio waves that transmit the connection. It’s an easy job for snoopers to have access to your information with malicious intent, including

• Your IP address
• Your virtual location
• Your online history
• Any files you send or download
• Any sensitive information, such as account usernames and passwords, and bank credentials

How can you protect yourself?

The trick to internet security is to only perform online activities on a trusted network in a secure environment. This could be at home or at work rather than on a free internet connection while you’re out and about.

If you must use public WiFi, consider subscribing to a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to protect your valuable data. This type of network service can be used on public and private networks as an added layer of privacy against cyber criminality.

Select a reputable VPN provider with a strong reputation for offering security and privacy oriented VPN services on an international platform, and with high level encryption to protect from prying eyes and hacking. The best providers have a multitude of servers located all around the world, and a large number of IPs to choose from.

Robust protocols including L2TP, OpenVPN, SSTP and IKeV2 will enhance the user experience by circumventing geo blocks on certain services, making sure that you have unrestricted access to all internet services on any device and wherever you are in the world.

Once you’ve signed up to a VPN service, you can install VPN software on any device, and on most operating systems, and be assured of state-of-the-art encryption to provide complete peace of mind whenever and wherever you’re online.

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