The benefits of a public WiFi hotspot are many; being able to access the internet when on the move is something that you have probably forgotten could not be done just a few years ago. Nowadays just about everybody carries either a smartphone or tablet, each of which has powerful capabilities, and we are so used to being able to log on in, say, a café, library or even a bar or shop that we take it as done. However, there is a more sinister side to public WiFi hotspots, and it is one that needs to be considered carefully. Your network at home or in the office will be protected by security measures; a public hotspot is largely unsecured.
Using a VPN
The fact the hotspot is unsecured means that it is easy for everyone to access; everyone, it should be remembered, includes those who are less than honourable in their intentions. You may bank online, or shop using a credit card, and if you do then you need this information to be kept safe and secure. On an unsecured network it is quite possible for people in the know to steal this information, and your security could be compromised. The best way to protect yourself against such actions is to use a virtual private network, or VPN; this is a service that, rather than transferring information via the dedicated server the hotspot uses, has its own servers in a range of locations that you can choose to use.
Protect Your Identity
Another major benefit of a VPN is that it will shield your identity; while your own network will allocate you an individual IP number which identifies you and your location, the VPN encrypts everything and will allocate you a random IP number, this keeping your true identity and location secret. Although it is not possible to promise 100% security online, this does enhance your security to a great degree. A VPN is cheap and easy to install and use, and if you’re not already using one, you really need to consider it as a serious option.
Take a moment to think about your internet usage: how often do you go online, how much potentially sensitive information do you send across the net, and how many of your regular sites use the same password? We are all guilty of lax security when online – of course, it will never happen to us – but the truth is we are automatically susceptible to the actions of less than scrupulous users who, for example, might like to have access to our banking details. So what can we do to enhance our online privacy?
Be Extra Careful All The Time
Much of the advice regarding internet security is common sense: use a different, unique password for everything – not your birthday, or name – and use only sites that are secure. Do not give your password to anyone, and make sure your anti-virus protection is up to date. Use social networking sites with care: Facebook is great fun and very useful, but all too often people post data and pictures that give too much away. Make sure you have the right security features installed on those sites, also. Perhaps more than anything, you should invest in a VPN.
Why a VPN?
A virtual private network, or VPN, is fast becoming the most popular method of enhancing online privacy and security. Not only do these services offer you the opportunity to bypass geo-restrictions on content in some countries, but they also encrypt all your information and give you complete anonymity when browsing. They work by diverting your information from your ISP providers servers to servers that are operated exclusively by the VPN operator, and the guarantees are worth the small payment they ask for.
Further Internet Privacy Tips
Another golden rule when considering internet security and privacy is this: never open a link, by email or otherwise, that you were not expecting to receive. This is a common method of implanting spyware or malware in your system, and should be avoided at all costs. If you are not sure about the origins of an email, delete. Generally, paying careful attention to security when online is the best way; if something looks suspicious, it probably is, and invest in the best VPN you can afford.