“Don’t use public Wi-Fi”. It’s Internet Safety 101. But public Wi-Fi is convenient. It’s often the best way to stay connected when you’re out and about. So, what gives? Well, fortunately, that recommendation doesn’t tell the whole story. It would be more realistic to state: “Don’t use public Wi-Fi without a VPN”.
The VPN app for Android will protect you while using public Wi-Fi, allowing you to reap all those benefits without risking your safety. Let’s take a deeper dive to learn more.
How Do VPNs Protect You On Public Wi-Fi
It is believed that around 4 in 10 internet users have had their data exposed by unsecured networks. As the name suggests, these networks are high-risk because they are unsecured. Outsiders can access these networks at will, and criminals can use them to spy on other users, steal their details, and monitor their activity.
Malware can sometimes be transferred to a victim’s device to leech more information or perform other malicious activities. There is also a practice known as Evil Twin attacks, whereby hackers create fake free Wi-Fi networks (such as “Coffee_Shop_Free” near a reputable coffee shop) to lure people into connecting.
A VPN works by routing your connection through a private server, thus masking your real IP address. Anyone who tries to spy on you will encounter a brick wall of encryption. It also renders Evil Twin attacks and other scams ineffective.
How to Secure Your Connections
Staying informed is the best way to protect yourself. The more you know about hacks and scams, the less likely you will be a victim. When it comes to secure connections, there are a few things to keep in mind:
· Don’t connect at random: Don’t just assume that a nearby open Wi-Fi connection is associated with the business you’re in. Ask the staff or look for notices inside the store to confirm that it’s a legitimate connection.
· Disable automatic connections: If your device is programmed to connect to any and all available networks, it could automatically latch onto unsecured public networks, thus putting your data at risk. Check your settings and disable automatic connections.
· Deactivate file-sharing features: Although convenient when used at home on a secured network, they can be a liability on unsecured networks. Deactivate them, just in case.
· Avoid sensitive accounts: There’s a time and a place to transfer money from your bank account, and “in a coffee shop on an unsecured network” is not it. Save those sensitive connections for when you’re on a secured network.
And, of course, ensure you have a VPN enabled to keep you secure. You should also check your firewall, and if you’re worried about existing malware on your device, pick up some anti-virus software.
What Threats Can A VPN Prevent?
Several common threats can be prevented by using a VPN. We discussed Evil Twin attacks, malware, and spying above, but VPNs can also prevent account takeovers. These occur when users are redirected to clones of popular websites like Instagram and Facebook. They enter their details as usual, and the hackers then collect these.
VPNs eradicate this threat by encrypting all submitted data and keeping your accounts safe. They protect against ransomware attacks as well. These involve using malicious software that prevents you from accessing your own device and files unless you pay a ransom.
Can Public Networks Block VPNs?
Most public networks are not advanced enough to block VPNs. ISPs have been known to blacklist specific IP addresses, including those associated with VPNs, but the best VPNs provide thousands of different connections, so there is always something available.
Summary: Using Public Wi-Fi Safely
There are many ways to stay safe when using your phone, including blocking numbers of nuisance callers, keeping your software updated, not clicking suspicious links, and learning all the many little fixes for common phone issues.
But using a VPN is one of the most important steps to protect yourself. It secures your data while using public Wi-Fi and provides additional protection.
So, the next time you’re chilling in a coffee house or checking into a hotel and wondering whether signing into public Wi-Fi is safe, just make sure you activate your VPN first, and you’ll be good to go!