Using VPN on Public Wi-Fi: Will It Protect You?
Desperately need to connect to the internet but you run out of data? We can imagine the relief when you finally spot that sought-after public Wi-Fi network. But…have you ever wondered whether using public Wi-Fi is safe? In case you haven’t, we’ve got some bad news — connecting to public Wi-Fi without taking necessary precautions is just a no-go. Would a VPN help in this case, though? Read along to find out.
Dangers of public Wi-Fi
First, let’s lay it out for you — connecting to a public network is a risky business. And you should know what can creep up on you there. After all, forewarned is forearmed.
- Unencrypted connections
While connected to public Wi-Fi, a user communicates with the server over an unencrypted connection. As a result, data is in an unsecured form, which makes it an easy target for interception. Besides, if you’ve ever wondered whether public Wi-Fi owners can see your search history, the answer is — yes, they can — with the help of monitoring software.
- Man-in-the-middle attacks
Providing unencrypted and unsecured connections, public Wi-Fi leaves you vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks — it’s when cybercriminals position themselves in a conversation between a user and an application or website to intercept data. This allows them to sniff out any information passing between two parties, like account logins and purchase transactions, which can lead to identity theft.
- Malware distribution
Hackers can also use software flaws to plant malware onto your device by creating code to target a specific vulnerability. Various types of malware can be sneaked into your system when you’re connected to an unsecured public Wi-Fi hotspot: viruses, worms, Trojans, ransomware, adware, bots, spyware.
- Session hijacking
Session hijacking is a cyberattack when hackers attempt to take over a user’s session to get their session ID and then impersonate that user on network services. For example, this may happen while you’re purchasing something online.
- Snooping and sniffing attacks
Snooping and sniffing (also known as an eavesdropping attack) are types of internet frauds attackers practice to steal valuable data over an unsecured network. They intercept Wi-Fi signals and are granted access to everything you do online.
After all, people connecting to public networks make hackers’ work much easier. According to the study, more than a third of public Wi-Fi users log into personal accounts requiring a password, 22% use credit cards, and 31% log into online banking — exactly what data hackers are looking for. So yeah, things don’t look pretty. Luckily, we have VPN coming to save the day.
VPN protection on public Wi-FI
Privacy protection on public Wi-Fi is among the top VPN use cases: More than a half VPN users use it for this very reason. How exactly does VPN protect you from public Wi-Fi dangers, though? Let’s find out.
- Data encryption — VPN’s strong suit. A VPN encrypts all of your internet traffic. This way, no one can intercept it via public Wi-Fi, being able to see jumbled incoherent information only. Various types of VPN encryption exist, but most top-notch VPN services use AES-256 encryption (the last three digits represent the length of the secret key) — a golden standard in the security field.
- Secure connection — A VPN sends your traffic through encrypted tunnels to VPN servers that give you a new IP address, ensuring secure connection. This is where VPN protocols step in; these are sets of programs and processes that define how that tunnel is actually created.
- VPN protocols are of 6 common types:
- OpenVPN. One of the most popular in broad use. It runs on either the TCP or UDP internet protocol — the first will guarantee your data will be delivered in full and in the right order while the second one focuses on faster speeds.
- IPSec/IKEv2. Establishes secure, stable, and fast VPN connection but has more limited compatibility compared to OpenVPN.
- WireGuard. The newest and fastest tunneling protocol, which outshines both preceding options.
- SSTP. A fairly secure VPN protocol created by Microsoft.
- PPTP — Point to Point Tunneling Protocol. Developed in 1999, it was the first widely available VPN protocol. It provides some of the weakest encryption now, though.
- L2TP/IPSec — Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol. It doesn’t actually provide encryption, being simply a VPN tunneling protocol that creates a connection between your device and a VPN server.
- Hidden IP address — a VPN basically gives you a new online persona, masking your real IP (which can give away a lot of personal information, by the way, like your location).
- Anonymity — You get an anonymous IP to protect your real identity and enjoy your privacy online.
Still, despite the dangers public Wi-Fi poses and VPN’s ability to help escape them, not many people turn to this solution, believing that open free networks won’t do them any harm. Unfortunately, they couldn’t be more wrong. So, if you didn’t use a VPN while on public Wi-Fi before, it’s never too late — time to join that bigger half of users using this solution for privacy protection.
Public Wi-Fi dangers: VeePN to the rescue
Luckily, you don’t need to go far to find a reliable VPN service that can help you minimize the dangers of public Wi-Fi — VeePN has got your back here.
- Bank-level 256-bit encryption. VeePN provides the strongest encryption, which supports the largest bit size and is unbreakable by brute force attacks (it would literally take thousands of years to decrypt it).
- Kill switch. Sounds a bit drastic… but fear not — the only thing VeePN kills in this case is the chances of exposing your personal information. Since connection may drop sometimes, a kill switch will automatically disconnect all your devices until it’s safe to browse again.
- Various VPN protocols. Along with a solid encryption standard, VeePN uses various protocols, which are one of the best in the game: OpenVPN (you can choose between UDP and TCP protocols), IKEv2, and WireGuard.
- Double VPN. Want even more security? VeePN got it — the double VPN feature covers you with two servers instead of one, so you receive double encryption.
- No Logs policy. The app doesn’t collect or retain any user data as well as doesn’t give it to third parties. VeePN’s headquartered in Panama, which is not a member of 5, 9, 14 Eyes countries — thus, it isn’t required by law to pass over user data to governments and other agents.
How to keep your data safe on public Wi-Fi
Last but not least, keep in mind that no public network is 100% secure. So you should always take measures to protect your user experience. Let’s see what you can do to stay safe while connected to public Wi-FI:
- avoid sensitive transactions like banking, not sharing your personal and financial information
- maintain antivirus protection
- turn off file sharing when not in use
- regularly update software
- use HTTPS sites (S at the end stands for secure), which makes it more difficult for snoopers to invade your privacy
- turn off automatic Wi-Fi connection
- log out of your account when you’re through with it
- create strong passwords and don’t keep them the same for all platforms
- install a trusted VPN app
Luckily, VeePN has got you covered for the last one. In addition to offering top-grade 256-bit AES encryption, double VPN, and strong bandwidth, VeePN will warn you any time your device tries to connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot (remember to connect to a trusted one only, though). The app constantly guards your data by giving you a new anonymous IP from the extensive network of 2500+ services across 50+ countries. Don’t like where you’re located? You can change your server with one click. With VeePN, you can travel the world easily while maintaining your privacy and safety online.