Wi-Fi offers a wireless connection between different devices. Most of us use it every day. You might use it at home to print something with your wireless printer. You might use it at work to gain access to the internet network. Or you might even use it in a restaurant to connect to their internet connection. The latter is a free public Wi-Fi network. This type of Wi-Fi connection poses the biggest treat to your privacy and safety. However, it would be good to protect your devices, regardless of the type of Wi-Fi connection. You can read everything you need to know about the dangers of connecting to a Wi-Fi network. Moreover, this article offers the solution of a VPN and some additional protection measures you might want to take.
Two Good VPN Providers
A VPN is the best protection against those who want to hack the information on your devices. Read all about the two best providers:
ExpressVPN is definitely one of the better VPN providers out there. They have a large amount of servers in different countries and offer fast and stable connections. Their user-friendly applications and great customer service make sure everybody can use their services.
ExpressVPN is at the higher end of the price spectrum but that can be expected with the great quality they offer. A perfect service to protect your devices when you use a Wi-Fi network! Read more about this high quality service in our full ExpressVPN guide.
- Super fast and simple VPN
- Perfect for anonymous browsing, downloading and streaming (i.a. Netflix)
- 3000+ servers in 94 countries
NordVPN is a provider that cares deeply about our safety. They have the best safety protocols in place and do not keep logs. NordVPN has a large offer of servers and great customer support.
Nord VPN offers lots of extra features that heighten the security of your device. A downside to these extra layers of protection can be that they slow down your connection slightly. NordVPN is on the cheaper side for the great security they offer. They are the safest option for going on Wi-Fi networks with your devices. Read everything you would like to know about this super-safe option in our NordVPN test report.
- Excellent protection and a large network of servers
- Nice and pleasing application
- No logs
Different Types of Wi-Fi Networks
To explain the ways your personal information is at risk of being hacked, we distinguish between three types of Wi-Fi connection. The first and least protected are free public Wi-Fi networks. The second are public Wi-Fi networks that do require a password of some sort. The last option we will describe, is your home Wi-Fi network. You will read what threats there are to your data security when you use these different networks.
Free Public Wi-Fi
Hacking people with the help of a free public Wi-Fi network is child’s play. In this day and age, we all want to be connected at all time. Free public Wi-Fi networks offer us an easy way to stay connected when we are on the road. However, it is essential to your internet safety that you don’t connect to just any network.
Hackers will go to a public space where there are a lot of people looking for Wi-Fi. They create a hotspot, offering free Wi-Fi to unsuspecting strangers. Of course they do not call these networks “Hacker001” or “Givemeyourlogin” but they give them trustworthy names. Since there are no restrictions on the type of name you can give to a hotspot, hackers can use the names of mobile network providers. Sometimes they even pose as the Wi-Fi network of a restaurant or café nearby. For instance, they could call their network “Starbucks Free Wi-Fi” and set up near a Starbucks. With these methods they hardly arise suspicion with the average passer-by.
When you connect to the hacker’s network, they can see everything you do on your device. Moreover, if you login to Facebook or your email they will see your login information and your password. You can imagine what they can do with that information.
Because this type of hacking is so easy and profitable a lot of criminals have started doing it. Rembember you won’t recognize a hacker when you’re working on your laptop in a lunchroom, because they might look just like you!
This is why it is important to never connect to a public Wi-Fi hotspot without taking the proper precautions.
Trustworthy networks where you have to enter a password might seems safer. While they are safer in the sense that the above mentioned trick won’t work, you are still vulnerable to hackers. Often there are a lot of people on these public networks, which increases the change that one of them has criminal intentions. Moreover, big public networks don’t change their password as often, which poses a similar threat.
But even if the hacker doesn’t know the password he or she can still hack devices connected to a public Wi-Fi network. It has been shown time and time again that Wi-Fi networks have large security leaks. This is not necessarily the fault of the person who put up the Wi-Fi. Often these are general problems with the Wi-Fi protocols that have nothing to do with actions of the user.
It is more likely that hackers will target larger networks as apposed to your home network. Many different devices will be connected to a large public network at any time. Thus, a hacker can obtain more data at the same time.
Home Wi-Fi Networks
You might think the home Wi-Fi network you set up is different from these public networks and a lot safer. Well, it is true that it is securer than the public networks previously mentioned. However, your home network isn’t completely secure either. Weaknesses are constantly being exposed. Whenever the manufacturers develop new security measures it doesn’t take long for hackers to expose the pitfalls. So it is always good to be aware of the fact that you are not completely secure on your “secure Wi-Fi”. However unlikely it may seem that a hacker would want to get your information specifically, if you do not protect your connection you will be an easy target.
Secure Wi-Fi with a VPN
A VPN is the most complete solution to create a secure connection to the internet. You won’t have to deal with hackers, or anyone else, watching over your virtual shoulder. A VPN encrypts all of your internet traffic. Nobody will be able to see what you do online. If they intercept your traffic all they will see is a jumbled mess of characters.
Install a VPN and all of your internet traffic is protected by their software. When you go on the internet you send information to the website you visit. This information is encrypted by the VPN software on your device. All the information sent back by the website is also encrypted, and is only decrypted once it has reached your device again. Even if a hacker manages to get into the Wi-Fi network, they won’t be able to see what you are doing. More importantly, they won’t be able to collect personal information or login and password data.
A VPN is not just a useful tool to prevent hackers from obtaining your personal information. Aside from security it offers you freedom and anonymity. With a VPN you are free to browse the internet without any restrictions. You can bypass online censorship and geographical restrictions on streaming services like Netflix. Moreover, everything you do online is anonymous. Because you take on the IP address of the VPN server you can browse anonymously and download anonymously with a VPN subscription. Nobody will be able to connect your actions online to your internet connection or location. A VPN is the solution to access the internet worry-free on all your devices.
Other Important Security Measures
When you use a VPN you are protected against most types of attacks. Everything you do on the internet is encrypted, so a hacker cannot get your personal information. However, it cannot protect you against viruses and software. When you go on a Wi-Fi network you are more susceptible to viruses and spyware so it would be wise to protect yourself against these dangers with extra measures. This doesn’t have to be difficult but is essential. Most people will protect their computers with anti-malware software. However, some forget that they share the same information on their smartphones and tablets. More and more transactions are now done on our smartphone. Thus, it is essential to download some anti-malware software on your smartphone. There are a lot of free options out there that offer good protections and are really no hassle to install.
HTTPS or HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure is the secure version of HTTP. You will probably recognize it because it is added before every internet address you type in. Nowadays, most big companies use HTTPS to secure their website. This is important because a secure connection will make sure your data is safe from hackers. Most of us do not pay attention to the HTTPS when we are browsing the internet. Hackers make use of that by taking down the security when we are not looking, and gathering our personal information.
This can be prevented with an extension for your browser that only allows you to go to HTTPS sites. An example of such an extension is “HTTPS Everywhere”. This way, you will not be able to access sites that are not protected with HTTPS. Thus, the version of the site created by the hacker will not be shown to you. With the use of a VPN and an extention like this, you protect yourself against this type of atttack.
Turn off Automatic Wi-Fi Connection
In the settings of your smartphone, laptop, or tablet you can select an option that automatically connects to available Wi-Fi networks. This option causes your device to connect to available Wi-Fi networks without asking for your validation. Understandably, this option makes your life a lot easier. However, if you have not taken the above mentioned security measures, we would recommend turning this option off. If your phone or laptop connects to just any network without you having to check the reliability of the network, you are at great risk of being hacked.
Every Wi-Fi connections, whether it is public or private, poses a threat to the safety of your devices and the personal data on them. Hackers lure you into connecting to their Wi-Fi hotspots or hack protected Wi-Fi networks. They can trick you into thinking you are on a safe network and gather all your personal information.
A VPN is a good solution to this problem. The VPN software on your device encrypts your internet traffic and the hacker will no longer be able to steel any of your personal information. However, if someone wants to do you harm, they can still infect your Wi-Fi network with a virus or spyware. Thus, it is important to protect your devices with anti-malware software as well.
The only other solution would be to not use any public networks and make sure you only use 3G/4G network to connect to the internet. However, this is hardly reasonable in this day and age. Thus, the best protection you can get on a Wi-Fi network, is by using a VPN and installing anti-malware software.
Enjoy the Wi-Fi and be safe!