One of the most common uses of a VPN is to protect your online information when using public Wi-Fi. But using public Wi-Fi with a VPN can be dangerous, as it endangers your personal information. There are a few security risks that people face when using public Wi-Fi with a VPN. Make sure to know about these as it can help you protect your personal and financial information.
Is it safe to use public Wi-Fi with a VPN? When using public Wi-Fi, even with a VPN, you can experience the following:
- Personal information leakage.
- Information theft.
- A VPN is a point of access to your computer.
- Lack of security.
- Midpoint hackers.
There are quite a few risks to using public Wi-Fi, and when it comes down to it, a VPN does not help much at all. It is an added layer of security, but it can also be unreliable. However, if you are familiar with the different ways you can be at risk online, you will be fine. Read on to find out more about using public Wi-Fi with a VPN and how to protect yourself.
6 Security Risks of Using A VPN With Public Wi-Fi
Using a VPN when you are on public Wi-Fi can be anything from helpful to harmful. It might also just do nothing at all. A VPN can be used as a point of entry to your computer by a hacker, and it may also allow malware to infect your computer. Of course, there are ways to protect your computer and personal information that you can use in addition to a VPN (check out my review of the best VPN choices here).
While the best way to protect your computer from the risks that public Wi-Fi presents is not to use public Wi-Fi, that is not always possible. Therefore, it is essential to know the risks and how to protect your computer and information.
Here is a list of 6 of the most significant security risks that public Wi-Fi can pose to you, even with a VPN.
1. Personal Information Leakage
The biggest issue you can have when using public Wi-Fi is that your personal information is not safe on it. However, if you follow a few simple practices, then you will be much better off and much less at risk of personal information leakage.
What Not to Do on Public Wi-Fi
When you are on public Wi-Fi, you should avoid doing a few key things, as they put you more at risk of having your information leaked. A few things to not do on public Wi-Fi are:
- Financial transactions: When completing financial transactions, it is best to do them from either your home with your network or from any other secure location. Public Wi-Fi can be used to steal your financial information.
- Accessing private information: Try not to access any of your private information, whether it is personal photos, your home address, your email, or your phone number. When you access your private information through public Wi-Fi, there is the chance that it will get stolen.
Just remember that anything you access when on a public Wi-Fi network has the potential to be leaked. This potential means that you should be extremely careful as to what you do on a public Wi-Fi. That way, you never have to worry about your private information is at risk.
Your computer is very much at risk when you are using public Wi-Fi. The public Wi-Fi has little to no security and firewall, and this makes it – and your computer – vulnerable to malware. Malware can consist of anything from a virus to a bug that allows access to your files.
How to Prevent Malware Infections
Like with most terrible things online, there is a way to stop and prevent it. You can protect your computer from malware when you are using public Wi-Fi.
Some things you can do to protect your computer from malware are:
- Firewall: There are many firewall services available. You can use it to keep your computer much more secure and malware-free. A firewall is not entirely foolproof, but it does an excellent job of securing your computer. Some good firewalls to use for extra protection are:
- Trend Micro: Trend Micro provides active protection for your emails, and it even destroys web threats. It also shields your data and information to give you complete privacy, and it has special safeguards so kids can safely use the computer.
- Kaspersky: Kaspersky is a great firewall to prevent online theft, and it keeps your identity safe whenever you are browsing. It is easy to use and automatically checks everything going in or out of your computer for threats and destroys them.
- Malware blockers: Like a firewall, a malware blocker is a barrier between your computer and anything that wants to access it. If you get a high-quality malware blocker, you can very effectively prevent anything you do not want from accessing your computer. A few outstanding malware blockers are:
- Malwarebytes: Malwarebytes prevents viruses, spyware, and malicious infections from infecting your computer. It continually runs a scanner and removes malware before it becomes an issue. It keeps all your information and documents safe and is excellent protection.
- McAfee: McAfee is a great antivirus and malware blocker. It prevents identity theft, and it is continuously monitoring all devices to check for and removes malware.
- Webroot: Webroot is an easy to use internet security system that provides complete protection no matter where you are connected. It removes viruses, malware, and it protects your computer from phishing and identity theft.
Even with all the security in the world, there is still the chance that your computer could get infected. Most of the time, you would not even know that you had been infected. You could go days or weeks or even months not knowing that your security has been compromised.
The only way to know for sure is to conduct a check. You can find a malware checker just about anywhere on the internet, and your malware blocker will have one built-in, as well. Regular checks can reassure you that your little stints with public Wi-Fi have not corrupted your computer.
They are also just a good practice to keep as they will help you keep your electronic devices in tip-top shape. No matter where or how you are using your computer, perform regular checks with a malware checker.
Public Wi-Fi is unsafe for the very reason that it is useful. It is open to everyone and therefore opens you up to everyone. So, be vigilant about what you are doing on public Wi-Fi and keep your computer secure. The more forms of cybersecurity you employ, the less likely you are to face a security disaster unprepared.
3. Information Theft
There are many ways to have your personal information leaked or stolen when using public Wi-Fi. The biggest reason is that public Wi-Fi has no security. It is open to anyone, and a hacker can access it just as easily as you can. Always know that nothing on public Wi-Fi is genuinely secure.
How to Prevent Information Theft
Information theft can be prevented. You can use a whole variety of security options to protect your information. Here are a few ways and methods that you can use to protect your information effectively:
- Strengthen security: Before you decide to use a public Wi-Fi hotspot, make sure your computer is secure. Keep both your computer and all the antivirus and malware protection software up to date. Regular updates drastically reduce the chance of your information being stolen.
- Protect your passwords: If you know you are going to be using a public Wi-Fi hotspot, then make sure your passwords and credentials are strong. Having a weak password or allowing your computer to store your passwords can increase the chances of your information being stolen.
- Use secure spots: Some public Wi-Fi hotspots are more secure than others. The best type of public Wi-Fi to use is the one that requires a password from someone or one that requires authentication. Unsecured networks might have been planted by hackers and can be dangerous to use.
Keep all your information as safe as possible within your computer. There are a plethora of resources available that can use to help you keep your computer secure, so be sure to use them. The more cautious you are, the better.
4. A VPN is a Point of Access into Your Computer
One other reason that a VPN might not be the safest option for public Wi-Fi Is that it can be used to gain permanent entry into your computer. A VPN works to mask your IP address with the IP address of the VPN. This way, your location and identity are concealed. However, if your VPN is hacked while you are using public Wi-Fi, then your VPN can later be used as an entry point into your computer.
A VPN is not the best thing to use when you are using public Wi-Fi. If you are, it is better to be more cautious about the kind of VPN you are using and invest in one that is high-quality. If it does not help all that much, then it might be more harmful than helpful. Do not blindly trust your VPN, as it likely does not work as well as you think it does.
5. Lack of Security
A VPN lacks many necessary security measures. It rarely has any kind of firewall, and it is accessible to anyone and everyone. The lack of security is what is attractive about public Wi-Fi hotspots, and it is also what makes them a security risk. They have no way to protect you, and they leave you open to all kinds of virtual invasions.
There is no real way to improve the security of public Wi-Fi, but you can do things to increase the security on your computer. Some things you can do are:
- Antivirus: An antivirus is one of the simplest and most effective ways to increase the security on your computer. It protects your computer from most kinds of malicious content, as well as spam and ads. Most antiviruses come as part of a firewall or malware blocker software.
- Data backup: Because of its lack of security, there is the chance that you could lose some or all your information when using public Wi-Fi. The best way to prevent losing your data is to have backup cloud storage. This way, even if all your files on your computer are damaged or lost, you still have a backup and are not entirely lost. You can use an external hard drive or cloud storage for a backup.
- Disconnect: This is one of the most hassle-free ways to handle a security issue. By simply disconnecting from the public Wi-Fi, you are taking away the issue. It is better to use your Wi-Fi at home or to find a more secure form of Wi-Fi.
Do your best to increase the security of your computer, because it can and will become a real issue when you lose most, if not all, your information.
6. Midpoint Hackers
Hackers are a huge problem for users of public Wi-Fi. They can steal, access, and delete your information using the Wi-Fi, or even your VPN. It is imperative to have security measures against hackers. One of the most common ways of stealing your information is by inserting themselves in between you and the connection point.
Midpoint hacking is when the hacker acts as a midway point through which your information passes through before reaching the connection point. This way, they can access and steal hundreds of people’s information in a short amount of time and with relatively little effort.
Does a VPN Help Protect Against Midpoint Hacking?
In a situation like this, a VPN is not going to help much. The VPN works more to conceal your identity, and not as a wall around your personal information. As your information passes through the hackers, they can take it, and then relay it to the connection point. This is extremely dangerous, as you may never know that your information was stolen.
Therefore, regular checks, firewalls, and antiviruses are essential to have in place. They protect you from the more concealed threats that are on the internet. Moreover, they are especially useful when you are using a public Wi-Fi hotspot. It is better to be over-prepared rather than under prepared in case of a virtual security emergency.
Good VPNs to Use with Public Wi-Fi
Even though most VPNs are not great when it comes to using them on public Wi-Fi, there are a few that are good. The predominant reason a VPN would be better to use on a public Wi-Fi is that it comes with extra features such as a firewall, or an automatic checker for malware.
Some VPNs that are good to use on public Wi-Fi are:
- AVG Ultimate: The AVG Ultimate VPN is one of the best choices for a VPN with added protection. It comes with an antivirus, an automatic cleaner for your data, and it can even check your security on specific sites and improve it. It can be a bit more expensive, but the benefits are great for public Wi-Fi usage.
- Avast Premium: Avast Premium also comes with its own antivirus. It checks your security for browsers, email, and networks, and then it improves it. It is constantly scanning your computer for threats and eliminates them before they can become an issue, which is excellent for public Wi-Fi work.
- Bitdefender: Bitdefender is another VPN that also comes with extra security. It has its own secure browser that you can use for financial transactions and monitors all activity to check for threats. It has an anti-tracking, anti-fraud, and anti-spam system that reduces the chances of malware getting in.
Most VPNs that include extra security tend to be a bit more expensive than other VPNs, but if you invest in a good one, then it will be very worth it.
In the end, the safest course of action would be not to use a public Wi-Fi hotspot, but there are instances where that is not an option. So, when it so happens that you need to use a public Wi-Fi hotspot, be sure to take the necessary precautions before doing so. And the more ways you are protecting your personal information and your computer, the better.
Make sure that you are using firewalls, malware blockers, antiviruses, and every other kind of extra security measure. They might seem excessive to you, but they will eventually come in handy. You should have a VPN for the times when you need it, but make sure that you only use it when you need it, or it could become a problem.