Public WiFi is a popular way to access the internet for many. Public transport offer it as a benefit to their passengers. Pubs, bars and restaurants use it as a marketing ploy to get people through the door. For people who have limited data allowance on their phone it is a free way to continue using the internet. And for people looking to do work whilst away from the office or away from their home, public WiFi can enable them to continue working whilst commuting or whilst sat in a coffee shop.
When people go on holiday, they will research the available facilities of the hotels they look at. Having WiFi access is a definite bonus for many, as mobile networks apply huge charges for people accessing the internet whilst abroad. People use their smartphones to access the internet on a rapidly increasing basis, with many seeking the services of a public WiFi to prevent them from using up their data allowance.
So, as we are all aware public WiFi is used and loved by many but that doesn’t mean that it is a safe way to access the internet. Sharing public WiFi opens users up to all kinds of security risks so next time you are thinking about browsing the internet via a Public WiFi service, think twice.
The US Federal Trade Commission offers advice on using public WiFi networks, stating that people should only send information to sites that are fully encrypted. They also advise that users shouldn’t use mobile apps that require personal or financial information because WiFi networks are generally unsecure.
Some websites use encryption to keep your data protected and this will be obvious by looking at the url address. If it starts with https (the ‘s’ being the important character) it is secure and uses encryption. Financial companies will mostly use these but always be wary and check this before you enter any personal details onto any website.
Hacking into personal information via public WiFi is becoming more and more common and hackers can now access tools to access your details and then use them to log into your accounts. Scary isn’t it?!
Fortunately, they are ways that you can help to protect your information, even when using a public WiFi network. You can restrict the way that you use the networks, for example, only accessing sites that you know are secure. Or you can change your settings so that your phone doesn’t automatically pick up WiFi networks.
However, if you want to be sure that your information is being encrypted, VPN could be the ideal solution for you. A VPN is a Virtual Private Network that will encrypt any data that you send, making life very hard for hackers to compromise. Many people think that VPNs are used purely for illegal purposes and it really isn’t true. This article published by Forbes goes into some depth to tell you some of the reasons that VPNs are not illegal. If what the VPN is being used for is not illegal, then VPNs alone are not breaking any law.
A VPN allows encryption and anonymity that can protect users from hackers. So when being used for this purpose, it is perfectly acceptable as a solution. VPN apps can be downloaded for free but the best ones will be the ones where you pay a premium. However, if you are frequently using public WiFi, that premium is a relatively small price to pay for online security.