Public Wi-Fis are like magnets for humans; every internet user is attracted to them. After all, these hotspots give you the ultimate convenience of connecting to the Internet with a single tap, for free.
However, not everything that offers convenience is harmless, especially a free Wi-Fi. There are several security dangers associated with Wi-Fis. It is these dangers that signify the importance of using a VPN on public Wi-Fis.
If you are still wondering about what a VPN is and why you need it, read on:
Why People Cling to Public Wi-Fis?
Don’t we all love freebies? Well, public Wi-Fis are no different than a freebie. After all, you get to use the Internet without paying a penny. On the contrary, if you use a mobile data plan, your monthly data plan bill would burn through your wallet.
Apart from the fact that these hotspots are free, it should also be noted that public Wi-Fis have become a commonplace on the street. You can find free Wi-Fis in hotels, cafes, restaurants, shopping malls, airports, public transport and even in recreational parks.
Wi-Fis are used as a bait to lure in customers at hotels, restaurants or malls. So, in short, people are attracted to Wi-Fi hotspots not only because they are free but also because they can be found everywhere.
What Makes Public Wi-Fis Unsafe?
There are hundreds of thousands of unsecured public Wi-Fis around the globe. According to research by Kaspersky Labs, there are around 39.31% unsecured Wi-Fis in the US, France has 40.14%, and Korea seems to have the highest number of unsecured Wi-Fis, i.e., 47.9%. According to the same report, some of these access points use weak WEP (security protocol), and some don’t even use encryption at all.
So, how does an unreliable WEP or lack of encryption make a Wi-Fi access point insecure, you might wonder?
Unsecured access points are easy targets for cybercriminals such as hackers and snoopers. These hotspots give these evil people easy access to users’ credit card details, social media accounts, bank details, and other sensitive data. And, unsurprisingly, there are various methods that enable the hackers or snoopers to siphon the personal data of an unsuspecting suspect.
You can also call them malicious hotspots. The rogue access points, although, seem legitimate by name but these hotspots are created by hackers. Since they are the master of the access points, they can use any vile method to inject malware into the user’s device to eavesdrop on the user’s online activities including browser history, social accounts, etc.
Hackers aren’t limited to the rogue access point to carry out their wicked deeds. They can find any unsecured Wi-Fi and use malware to gain access to the device. Once the Wi-Fi becomes home to the attackers, they can easily spy in on any device connected to it.
As the label says it all, these attacks are carried out by intercepting the connection between any two devices. More often than not, malware is the primary cause of a MITM attack. In this type of attack, the attacker can not only monitor the network traffic but also change or modify it.
How Does a VPN Come Into the Picture?
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) were initially built to make corporate networks secure. To ensure the security of the network or the data, a VPN employs different encryption algorithms ranging from 128-bit, 256-bit or more.
When you use a VPN on your device and conduct any online activities on the internet, your request will be first sent to the VPN server. The server will wrap the encryption layer around the request and forward it to the DNS and then to your device. Since all the traffic is encrypted, the hacker or snooper won’t be able to steal the data even on an unsecured Wi-Fi.
As a result, you can safely and securely access all your sensitive data on the Internet without worrying about MITM attacks, online identity theft, and other such cyber threats.
A VPN does more than protecting users’ data. It also keeps their privacy intact, especially in the era where countries are imposing data retention and mass surveillance policies that are a direct threat to our privacy.
There are a good number of reliable VPNs available out there that offer better protection and anonymity. For instance, PureVPN, Ivacy, SaferVPN, etc. However, it is best to google “PureVPN review” or “XYzvpn review” to check out users’ feedback.
Apart from using a VPN, it is best to take precautionary measures when conducting sensitive online activities on a public network. After all, it is always better to be safe than sorry.
Author Bio: John B Vergara is Technology enthusiast, and cyber security analyst from Beaverton, he writes & contribute blogs in his spare time.