Can VPN protect you from public Wi-Fi?

Can we trust public Wi-Fi networks to provide us with secure access to the internet? Is a virtual private network (VPN) necessary to ensure our data is protected? These are important questions that should be considered before taking advantage of free, but potentially insecure, internet connections.

Actually, we don't know much about Wi-Fi and VPN. So, in order to determine if further measures are necessary to safeguard our data when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, we must first acquire a greater understanding of Wi-Fi and VPN technologies.


What is Wi-Fi?

Wi-Fi, an easier-to-remember term coined in the late 1990s, stands for wireless connectivity. This technology enables Wi-Fi-compatible devices such as laptops, tablets, PCs, and smartphones to establish a connection to the internet without requiring any cables or wires. Radio signals, which are in essence transmitted through the air, are used to send data from your wireless routers to any device that can connect to Wi-Fi.

Is Public Wi-Fi Secure? Wi-Fi and VPN

The use of public Wi-Fi can be risky because it relies on radio waves which are transmitted through airwaves, making it easier for malicious individuals to gain access to your device and data. This is especially true when connecting to free public networks at places like coffee shops or airports, where security may not be as tight. If you need to utilize a public Wi-Fi connection, it is strongly recommended that you connect to a network that requires a password or your hotspot.

VPNs, or Virtual Private Networks, are commonly recommended to ensure the protection of data when using public Wi-Fi. But is this true? Before we can answer that question, let's explore what VPNs are and how they work.

What is VPN and how does it work?

A Virtual Private Network, or VPN, permits devices to link up to an exclusive network through a public one. It was developed to securely link gadgets with private web servers using public WiFi.

VPN establishes a connection between your device with Wi-Fi capabilities and a server. It utilizes public Wi-Fi to link, however, VPN helps protect your IP address and keeps it from being seen by any potential hackers on the same public network. By taking this step, you will be able to access a secure and confidential network and your data will be encrypted and unreadable when sent over public Wi-Fi, which is a great advantage if you are dealing with sensitive information.

VPN provides you with a private server address, instead of your IP address, when you connect to the web. This allows for your location to be concealed and your data to remain private, creating a secure virtual tunnel. So, if you do not employ a Virtual Private Network (VPN), your Internet Service Provider will have the capacity to view your browsing history, since your activities on the web are associated with your IP address.

Is VPN enough to guarantee privacy?

Despite the apparent advantages of using a VPN when accessing public Wi-Fi networks, it is important to be aware that this technology is not completely foolproof. It is strongly advised to take advantage of a VPN when connecting to public networks for maximum privacy and security. It is essential to recognize that once you connect to a public WiFi, there is a window of opportunity for potential risks until your VPN is activated. Therefore, you are exposed to the threats associated with unsecured networks during this time frame.

How to Save Your Data When Connected to Public Wi-Fi

Taking steps to protect your data is essential, and there are a few measures you can take to reduce the chances of being hacked.

  1. For the most secure online experience, it is advisable to use mobile data rather than public Wi-Fi. Mobile data encrypts your data, making it a safer option for sensitive information that you don't want to be compromised.
  2. Verify that websites are secure: Pay attention to the URL and make sure it begins with HTTPS, as this indicates a safe connection to the website. 

This implies that your information is safeguarded while being transmitted to the website, but that doesn't guarantee the trustworthiness of the website's management, as they can access your data and may misuse it. Therefore, be certain that the website has good standing.

  1. Employing a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a more secure option for utilizing public Wi-Fi if you don't have access to mobile data and require fast internet. Although it is not infallible, it still provides an improved connection compared to other alternatives.
  2. It is advisable to refrain from accessing sensitive information when not using a VPN or mobile data connection. This includes financial and other personal details that you would prefer to remain private.
  3. Once you're done working with any accounts that you opened while using public Wi-Fi, log out as soon as possible. This will help reduce the chance of your account being hacked by unwanted parties.
  4. Utilize plug-ins that could be of assistance: There are a few plug-ins or extensions available for browsers that can prompt encryption on websites that typically don't have encryption enabled.
  5. It is beneficial to have anti-virus software installed when connecting to a public Wi-Fi network. This can alert you if there are any viruses or malicious activity on your device, providing you with a safeguard against malware.

It is recommended to disable the automatic connection to any nearby Wi-Fi networks, that way you can select when and if you want to connect. Doing so reduces the risks of being hacked.

In conclusion, we can see that the most secure way to access the internet is through the use of mobile data. Although mobile data is not always available to provide a secure connection, many countries have data plans or access to private Wi-Fi networks at home that can be used as an alternative. In certain situations, it may not be easy to buy a data plan or access Wi-Fi that requires a password, such as when we are at the airport or while traveling. So, how can we make sure that our internet connection is secure when we are in transit?