How to stay safe on public WiFi

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Hackers love public WiFi—that’s because 75% of these networks are vulnerable. But there’s an easy way to stay safe, with trusted, free Avira Phantom VPN.

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The dangers of public WiFi

It’s everywhere and it’s tempting. But freedom comes at a price. 

Why is it unsafe?

It’s free, everywhere, and convenient—but public WiFi is as desirable for hackers as it is for users. It requires no authentication to establish a connection, so hackers enjoy free access to unsecured devices on the same network. Plus, common WiFi encryption standards are flawed and should not be trusted. It’s hacker heaven! 


You may already know that connecting to public WiFi hotspots in hotels, airports, and coffee shops is insecure and potentially dangerous. Even so, nearly 60% of us admit to logging in to personal email accounts over a public connection!

What are the main risks?

Whether you’re accessing public WiFi on a laptop, smartphone, or tablet, the dangers are universal. We’re highlighting four here, but there are many other scams and hacks that can be used to access your personal data.

 

Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) attacks occur when a malicious third party intercepts your communication. They can then present you with fake websites, intercept your passwords, and access your data files. As data is unencrypted on public WiFi, users are particularly vulnerable to MITM attacks.

 

Even if you just logged in to a hotspot for a few minutes, your data can still be captured. Using freely available packet sniffing software, hackers can intercept and log data traveling over a free WiFi network. These streams of data, or packets, can be downloaded and saved for later analysis. A snooper can take their time and scan for passwords, personal data, and banking details.

 

Session hijacking, sometimes called sidejacking, exploits a vulnerability with cookies (the small data files saved by your browser on your device). Cookies save time by storing, for example, your username and password so you don’t have to enter your credentials every time you visit a website. However, by hijacking your browser session over a public WiFi network, hackers can easily capture this data and log on to a website as you.


Malicious hotspots can be quickly set up to look like legitimate WiFi networks. Once you’ve been tricked into logging on with your device connected to their network, hackers can steal your personal information in next to no time. To make them difficult to distinguish from the genuine networks, these evil twin hotspots usually have similar-sounding names such as “Coffee Shop Hotspot” or “Free Airport WiFi”.

Public WiFi tips

Connect to secured networks where possible, and if you must use an unsecured network, check that the connection requires a login or registration.

 

Turn off auto-connect. Smartphones, laptops, and tablets have automatic connectivity settings. These connect you from one hotspot to the next as you move about, which is very convenient, but a huge security hazard!

 

Monitor your Bluetooth. Bluetooth connectivity allows devices to communicate with each other, and a hacker can look for open Bluetooth signals to gain access to your device. So please don’t leave Bluetooth on in public places.


Use a VPN. This encrypts all the data that you send and receive while using public WiFi, so that all your communications are safe from snoops and hackers. 

 

How VPN adds a layer of security

Google “public WiFi security solutions” and almost every article and website recommends installing a VPN. Here’s why.

When you use a VPN, your device connects to the VPN provider’s servers. All your internet traffic passes through this VPN connection—it’s like a secure, private tunnel that shields all your data and communications from third parties, and even your Internet Service Provider (ISP). Plus, all your communications are encrypted when you use a VPN, so they can’t be read even if they could ever be accessed!

Your financial info, passwords, and other private files are secure when you use a VPN: They cannot be intercepted nor read by third parties.

What’s the difference between a proxy and a VPN?

You may have heard of proxies as a means of accessing blocked websites. And although they are similar, proxies are essentially the unsecured version of VPNs: They give you an alternative IP address, so you can mask your location and access geo-blocked content. But, they don’t offer encryption for your communications. Furthermore, proxies only work with compatible programs, so they are limited in their application—particularly on mobile devices. In short, only a VPN offers security, encryption, and anonymity for users.

What are the other advantages of a VPN?

It does so much more than hiding or changing your IP address.

 

Safely use public WiFi

Public WiFi (in restaurants, cafes, etc.) is unsafe as others in this network can access your data. Surfing with an active VPN connection encrypts all data received and sent, so you’re safe from hackers.

Unblock websites

By hiding your IP address, you can bypass regional censorship. So, if you’re abroad, choose a VPN server from home to watch your favorite show and beat geo-blocking! And gamers can play with the world!

Evade tracking

Advertisers track your IP address to send you targeted ads. Not with Phantom VPN! It assigns you a different IP addresses with every connection, and none of them can be traced back to you.

Choose Avira to safely connect to public WiFi

Securely connecting to hotspots is easy with our fast, free Phantom VPN! Here’s what makes it the trusted choice: 

✔ Uses the 256 Advanced Encryption Standard (AES-256), which is the worldwide norm for data encryption. AES-256 offers so many encryption combinations, it would take billions of computers more than 13 billion years to crack them!

✔ Gives you access to 38 server locations around the globe—with just 2 clicks—so no one knows where you really are.

✔ Works on any device for Windows, Android, iOS, and Mac—there’s also a free browser plugin for Chrome!

✔ Part of a multi-award-winning software portfolio from a trusted German security leader, with over 30 years of experience.

Plus, it’s free!

Made in Germany.
Downloaded by millions.

4.5/5 - Excellent

19,000+ reviews

Stay safe on public WiFi—download now.

Overcome the risks of public WiFi and connect safely anywhere.

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