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Is using Free Wifi safe for my data? Not unless you do this!

June 10, 2019 No Comments

Featured article by Alison Becker, Independent Technology Author

It can be tempting to hook up to the free Wifi offered at cafes, restaurants, airports or any other place. However, is keeping up to date with what your friends are doing on Facebook or sending an email important enough to risk having your personal details stolen? This is something you should ask yourself when considering connecting to a public network. The bigger question is, is using free Wifi safe for my data. The answer is no, not unless you protect yourself beforehand.

The risks of using free Wifi

One of the biggest risks of using free Wifi is that hackers can get between you and the internet. This means that the hacker can read any information you are sending over the connection, including your bank details, credit card information and any other sensitive information. In fact, no data is safe when using free networks to connect to the internet.

The reason there is a risk when using Wifi that is offered free is the lack of encryption. If you can connect to the network without needing a key or paraphrase, it is not secure. With no encryption, anyone that cares to look can see what you are typing in along with the websites that you visit. You might as well just hand out your passwords and personal data to everyone.

Another risk when connecting to free Wifi is that hackers might have already compromised the network. Hackers can hijack networks and set up false networks, leading you to believe you are connected to a legitimate network. In actual fact, you connect straight to the network of the hacker.

Hackers can also use software and devices to set up attacks using public Wifi, again with the intention of stealing data.

Thankfully, there is a way you can make use of the free Wifi offered when you are out and about. Your data will remain safe and secure if you protect yourself with a VPN.

How to remain safe when using free Wifi

A VPN, Virtual Private Network, does as the name suggests, ensures your data remains private.

You take out a subscription with a VPN provider, download and install software or apps onto your device and then connect to a server of the VPN before going onto the internet.

The software puts an encrypted tunnel between your device and the World Wide Web, and any data that passes from your computer to the net is encrypted and cannot be read. What’s more, when connected to a server offered by the VPN provider, your IP address is masked and you take on one from a country anywhere in the world. While you might be sitting drinking coffee and browsing the net in Paris, to anyone looking it looks like you are located in the USA, UK or any other country in the world.

A VPN helps to ensure that your data remains safe and there are many additional benefits. As you take on an alternative IP address, the VPN can help you to overcome geo-restrictions, which means you can gain access to blocked content while abroad.

SECURITY

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