The only thing that’s as irritating as a bad Internet connection is a restricted Internet connection. Whether your line of work has you living out of travel inns, or you’re at school or college five times a week, not being able to access what you need to can be frustrating.
The mods of these WiFi zones are often ruthless in the swing of the scythe – we’ve all found ourselves unable to access some honest, purposeful material due to heavy restriction at some time. Free-thinking websites like Reddit and Facebook are likely seen as distracting and a chance to browse exploitative content. Access to most forums and online communities will most likely always be off-limits. What happens with pornography websites, and pretty much any website created to satisfy an urge of some kind, probably goes without saying.
These networks aren’t just bad for restriction, though, they’re bad for logging your activity and giving an unreliable, crappy connection. In the case of schools and colleges, activity will be logged to keep stock of the things students are accessing but shouldn’t (these websites will no doubt then be blocked as well) and connection will be controlled to ensure balanced access for all.
Regarding WiFi in hotels or places like McDonalds or Starbucks, the clearly more malicious case of the two, your activity is logged and sold on to third parties. And they give you a very limited connection while doing so. These hotspots come with no protection at all, which is what makes them so dangerous. Without using a VPN, mobile workers are compromising their company’s entire database and confidential information. Typical everyday users will hand over their bank details and logins to their email and social media accounts if there’s no VPN in place.
VPNs have a host of benefits to all Internet users, but security is something everyone is interested in. Below are just a few of the issues people face when accessing public WiFi without a VPN.
Dangers of using public WiFi spots
Tainted Zones: Without realizing it, you could be connecting to a zone that’s compromised. The hotspot itself could have become infected which means they can follow your every digital footstep. Depending on where the creator set up the hotspot, the crimes could be more serious. On the outskirts of a small town might not have the same effect as one placed in a financial district, or one with a heavy amount of footfall, for example. Even accessing encrypted websites like mobile banking can be undermined through a number of attacks.
Breached Devices: Yet again there’s a chance of you not realizing an issue taking place. Your device may be fine, but if someone else, whose device happens to be breached, connects to that network, they could follow that avenue to you. Choosing the right settings for these types of networks is often harder and disregarded on mobile devices, compared to computers and laptops. The right configuration can prevent this type of access but is often overlooked.
Prying Eyes: This is what you must be most concerned of. As mentioned earlier, these public zones are there to farm data, and they offer poor connection and no protection. Because there’s no protection, and they’re generally all unencrypted, this traffic is visible to everyone within range of the WiFi. That means at least one person could be watching what you and everyone around you is doing. There are several methods and tools ranging in complexity that allow people to do this.
A few of the best VPNs for public networks
ExpressVPN is a good choice for rapid and reliable speeds. It’s popular because it has 2000+ servers and delivers unlimited bandwidth and no restrictions. It comes with 256-bit AES encryption, with added offshore privacy protection. It’s available across all devices and is very simple to set up and use. It’s reliable for those who regularly work on the move and connect to several public networks.
Cost: 1 Month Plan - $12.95 (billed monthly) / 6 Month Plan - $59.95 (billed twice a year) / 12 Month Plan - $99.95 (billed once a year)
VyprVPN is known for solid performance and its marketplace independence. It operates and maintains its own hardware and network, without the involvement of any third parties in your service. It uses its own Chameleon technology, powered by a 256-bit protocol, to prevent any chance of VPN blocking. It has servers based across more than five continents and provides multiple protocols for flexibility. It’s an easy app to use an all devices, and has unlimited bandwidth, just like ExpressVPN.
Cost: Basic VyperVPN Plan: $60.00 (billed once a year) / Premium VyprVPN plan: $80.00 (billed once a year)
CyberGhost is known for offering deep encryption across public networks. It’s how it ensures their users’ privacy and protection across all devices. With their integrated software, mobile workers and browsers are free from any adware and malware. Just like the other services listed above, CyberGhost also comes with a strict no-logging policy. And with access to more than 1300 servers around the world, it can offer high performance in some of the riskier public WiFi areas.
Cost: 1 Month - $11.99 (billed monthly) / 12 Months - $59.88 (billed once a year) / 24 Months - $90.96 (billed every two years) / 36 Months - $99.00 (billed every three years)