Keeping yourself safe on public wifi
Today, public Wi-Fi connections have become practically ubiquitous. Whether it’s password protected at your local coffee shop or mall, or completely wide-open in a public park or airport, public Wi-Fi has become an important way for many of us to connect to the internet, no matter where we go.
But with the ease of use and convenience come risks. It’s easy to forget that you’re not the only one using a public Wi-Fi connection, and there may be plenty of people out there on the same network who may wish to snag your data for nefarious purposes. It requires essentially zero hacking skills to monitor or hijack public Wi-Fi network communications. Free software, which is widely available, make snooping on public Wi-Fi users’ emails, chats, and web browsing about as easy and straightforward as pressing a button.
Hackers can quite easily monitor an entire store’s network traffic with a small tablet-size device hidden in their backpack. Making public Wi-Fi networks even more irresistible targets, very few users are aware of the dangers, and routinely give away potentially damaging personal information on such connections.
It may seem that public Wi-Fi hotspots that utilize a password are secure, but such passwords offer a false sense of security. As long as the password is publicly posted and widely available, a user’s security is essentially compromised on the network.
Indeed, a freelance tech writer for pcworld.com conducted a test last year to measure just how easy it would be to grab the private information of Wi-Fi hotspot users. The writer, Eric Geier, used the trial version of a piece of software known as a network analyzer to gather users’ information. Geier took a seat at his local coffee shop and immediately began scooping up 802.11 packets – the discrete pieces of information sent over most wireless networks.
After a few minutes he had already captured much more than he could analyze in a sitting. His network analysis software reassembled the captured packets into readable webpages, but also was capable of gathering up username logins and passwords that did not make use of encryption, for example FTP logins and passwords. As long as the data was not transmitted over a securely encrypted line, it was vulnerable to eavesdropping.
One of the only ways to guarantee your safety on a public Wi-Fi connection is with a VPN, or Virtual Private Network. A VPN works by creating an encrypted tunnel between your computer and the VPN provider, ensuring that all of your data that travels over a public wifi connection isn’t privy to prying eyes. Even if there is someone eavesdropping on the public wifi hotspot you’re using, the only thing they’ll see is scrambled, encrypted garbage.
A VPN can also provide the additional advantage of allowing you to view the internet as if you were in your home country while traveling abroad. At tigerVPN, we offer 52 nodes in 38 countries, which means you should be able to access a fast, secure connection practically anywhere you might be in the world. We’ve also built our network from the ground up with your privacy in mind – we log nothing, and do not monitor our users’ activities.
Feel free to take a look at some of our plans to find a VPN that suits your needs.