If you are not using a VPN such as F-Secure FREEDOME VPN yet, you should. Your internet traffic will become encrypted, so you’ll be private and untrackable and nobody can tamper with your traffic.
Encryption is vital for your privacy. When you turn on a VPN, all traffic that goes to and from your computer, tablet or phone is encrypted until it travels to and exits the VPN server. The ones providing your internet connection only see that there’s something encrypted and unreadable going from your computer to the VPN server, but they don’t know what it is.
When your traffic is encrypted, it is also protected so that whoever provides your internet connection – be it your ISP, your employer, school or even the café offering free WiFi – can’t see which sites you are connecting to. Your traffic is safe from prying eyes and it can’t be traced back to you.
Public Wi-Fi is inherently insecure. Anyone who can connect to the network can potentially snoop on your traffic – unless it is encrypted. Even worse, the one who set up the network can very easily see your traffic. Sometimes they even sneak in a mention of surveillance in terms and conditions of a WiFi hotspot.
If you don’t encrypt your traffic, anyone can potentially see the websites you visit, your personal communications, who you are communicating with, or the files you send.
When connecting to a public WiFi you cannot be sure that the WiFi is what it claims to be. Anyone can name any WiFi any way 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. This is surprisingly easy to do.
If the hacker lures you to connect to the rogue WiFi, they can do all sorts of evil tricks. They can inject malware to your downloads or sppoof 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. When you are on a public WiFi, turn on your VPN. That will make sure you have an encrypted tunnel to the VPN server, so you know you are not being monitored and all your traffic in the public WiFi is unreadable by outsiders.
A VPN is not the only way to encrypt your traffic. It is the most convenient way, though. There are alternative approaches, such as using a Tor browser.
Tor browser works, if you don’t need much bandwidth. However, it is not very convenient for extended use. Tor speeds are very slow, as it relies on bouncing your traffic through a network that is run by volunteers. Therefore, a VPN will be a much more convenient, snappier solution compared to Tor.
There’s also a security factor. You don’t really know who’s operating those volunteer Tor nodes, and if the nodes where your traffic enters the network and the last node is run by suspicious people, they could potentially see your traffic unencrypted. So on Tor you need to trust anonymous people you can’t choose, and using a VPN instead you only need to trust the VPN provider. When choosing a VPN provider, we recommend somebody with accountability and a good privacy track record.
Get encrypted. We recommend our F-Secure FREEDOME VPN. You can try it 5 days for free, no credit card or even an email address needed.