Public Wi-Fi is inherently insecure. Anyone who can connect to the same network can potentially snoop on your traffic – unless it is encrypted with a VPN. Even worse, the one who set up the network can easily see and intercept your traffic.
If you are not protecting your browsing on WiFi using a VPN such as F-Secure FREEDOME VPN yet, you should. Here’s why.
When you turn on a VPN, everything that goes to and from your computer, tablet or phone is encrypted until it exits the VPN server. This means that your internet traffic immediately becomes unreadable by anyone except the intended recipient. Whoever provides your internet connection – be it your employer, school or the café offering free WiFi – can’t see what you are doing on the internet. Your traffic will be safe from prying eyes and none of it can be traced back to you.
If you don’t encrypt your traffic, anyone can potentially see things like the websites you visit, your personal communications, who you are communicating with, and the files you send. Most worryingly, everything you write on forms on unencrypted sites is easily readable – including your passwords.
When connecting to a public WiFi you cannot be sure that the WiFi is what it claims to be. Anyone can name their WiFi whatever they want. If a malicious hacker is setting up a rogue hotspot and naming it Free Café WiFi, you might believe that it’s a legitimate provider. If the hacker tricks you to connect to the rogue WiFi, they can do all sorts of evil tricks. They can inject malware into your downloads or spoof login pages to capture your passwords. At worst, they could spoof a bank login page and fool you into giving your credentials.
All of this can be prevented by using a VPN, which will make sure you have an encrypted tunnel to the VPN server, so you know you are not being monitored and all your traffic sent from the public WiFi is unreadable.
Some hotspots sneak in a mention of surveillance in terms and conditions of a WiFi hotspot so they can check out what you are doing – and at worst even sell your browsing behavior to the highest bidder, connected with your personal data you gave them when signing up. This is entirely legal in many jurisdictions, but it doesn’t mean you have to be OK with it.
When you use a VPN, the only data they get is that you connected to a VPN and transferred something encrypted. Good luck monetizing that.
These are the good reasons to encrypt your traffic while surfing on public WiFi. So get a VPN. Pick one you can trust and one that is easy to use. We recommend our F-Secure FREEDOME VPN. You can try it 5 days for free, no credit card or even an email address needed.