We’ve all heard, a number of times, that using Public Wifi, free hotspots, can cost us our privacy or compromise sensitive accounts and information. For many, that might bad enough. But, our family members may be at risk as well. At the mall, coffee shop, restaurant, movies, hardware and toy stores, free Wifi is commonly offered as a courtesy, while in most cases security is not.
Unfortunately, criminals and fraudsters can access these same WiFi signals with relative impunity. Simple and easy to find software and hardware allow capture of the data going to and from WiFi hotspots for closer inspection later. Or, an attacker, using similar software and equipment, might impersonate common Public WiFi services allowing them to directly capture usernames, passwords, and sites we visit.
The risk is real, as we’re often told. What we rarely hear, however, is how to protect ourselves and our data from being stolen. Simply avoiding Public WiFi isn’t a real option. For many, cellular data plans are too expensive. Many of our mobile devices, tablets, only have WiFi as an option.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) creates an encrypted tunnel between a device and a server somewhere else on the Internet. Through a VPN, data is protected from view by anyone else using the same Public WiFi service. VPN was once only available to business users but has become a commonly available, and affordable, security measure.
PrivateTunnel (www.privatetunnel.com) is one such offering, as is PrivateWiFi (www.privatewifi.com). Both providers support mobile devices, phones and tablets as well as laptops and desktops. They have low cost, easy start options to protect your personal data while on a business trip or all your family’s information while on vacation. Mobile Apps are downloaded from the Apple and Google stores and other supported platforms from their websites.
For those with interest in low-cost DIY VPN options, those exist as well and are relatively inexpensive and simple to setup using your favorite cloud provider. Look for pointers in future posts…….