If you walk into a coffee shop, library, or even some public parks, you’ll see people using public WiFi networks. According to a study by Symantec, 60 percent of people feel secure using convenient public WiFi, but many don’t know whether those networks are actually safe.
The study also shows that 53 percent of people can’t tell the difference between a secured and an unsecured connection. That’s a lot of people vulnerable to malware and theft. If you exchange money, shop online, or check your bank balance, you should use a virtual private network (VPN) to ensure your connection is secure from prying eyes.
Dangers of public WiFi
Anyone using an unsecured public network may be vulnerable to attack. Here are a few of the risks you face with a vulnerable connection:
- Sniffer software. Attackers sometimes use software programs called “sniffers” to monitor and decode information users send on public networks.
- Malware. With a malware-infected device, attackers can access and steal any information on your device. Removing malware can be nearly impossible.
- Man-in-the-middle. As the name suggests, criminals find ways to slip between users and the sites they visit, allowing them to intercept sensitive information without the user ever knowing.
Unfortunately, sniffer software is readily available to anyone who wants to download it. This means hackers might pick up your username and password when you sign in to Instagram or your email. The best way to prevent attacks like these is to use a secure Internet connection.
That’s where a VPN comes in.
What is a VPN?
A VPN is a way to secure a connection between a device and the Internet. In most cases, VPNs secure a connection between a computer or tablet to a corporate network, but consumer-level VPNs are available for anyone to use.
These networks make it much more difficult for someone to snatch your information from the cyber highways and decode it. No one can 100 percent guarantee your online security, but you can think of a VPN as Fort Knox–level security for your information.
You can also use a VPN to access blocked websites, such as those behind a firewall. For instance, some foreign governments block social media platforms, or video streaming sites like Netflix or Hulu. To access those platforms while traveling abroad, you will need to use a VPN.
How to set up a VPN
Third-party applications and downloadable software may provide the same functionality, but using a company you already know and trust is the safest route. Xfinity can provide a VPN that is already in place; all you need to do is download the software to access it.
Stay safe: use a VPN
If you travel often for work (or fun), use your VPN on public WiFi to keep your information safe. Falling victim to cyber attacks is a sure way to ruin your vacation or business trip. With a VPN and a few clicks, you can browse the Web with minimal worry.