We’re a connected society; whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, our banking, or a TV show, our access through technology is unrelenting.
Our need for information and entertainment puts our personal data at risk, a hazard we scarcely acknowledge.
When we enter a grocery store, a mall, a gas station, or a coffee shop, often our devices begin to automatically connect to public WiFis. And we’re more than happy to allow our devices a faster thorofare to the world wide web.
But such convenience yields an often unsuspecting, lurking menace. Nefarious, cunning cyberpunks seek to manipulate and steal your exposed personal data.
That’s right, the simple, thoughtless act of connecting to public WiFi potentially exposes vast amounts of your data. Personal data can mean banking information, your social security, your passwords, and more.
Imagine if you left your iPhone at a bar and taped its pin code on the back. How unsettled would you feel? Unfortunately, when you use public WiFi unprotected, that’s what could be happening.
Today, let’s discuss how you can use a VPN to protect your devices while on public WiFi.
What Is a VPN?
Many people don’t use a VPN because they don’t know what a VPN is. I’ll be as direct and humble as possible here; there are lots of great articles explaining VPNs. One notable, popular article titled What is a VPN is found on HotBot VPN.
A VPN is an app that downloads to your device. Devices include smartphones, laptops, and desktop computers. You can use a VPN on your home router, or your gaming console (remember, your gaming console probably leads to credit card information).
When you switch this VPN app on, your connection to the ISP server becomes encrypted. As a result, your IP address no longer reflects the IP address assigned to you by the ISP.
When you use a VPN, nefarious cyberhackers can’t see your web activity. They can’t spoof or gain access to your web movements. They can’t spy on your communications.
When you don’t use a VPN when connecting to a public WiFi, a bad player could be watching that WiFi’s activity as a whole. So they see you pop on, their spying ways begin.
But What About Home?
Right now, you’re probably thinking you can just use cell service while at public places and you’ll be fine.
But that’s not true, either.
The news doesn’t get a whole lot better for your home network.
If you live in a dense area, a hacker might attempt to spy on your network. But a more pronounced risk is your exposure to your ISP. That’s right, your ISP may (and often does) track your online behavior.
Now, why would your ISP track your online activity?
Because your data equals a lot of money.
Your surfing habits are the greatest advertising leverage of all time. What you search for, what you want, what you hate, what you think, who you vote for and don’t vote for, is packaged up with a bow. When a corporation buys this information from your ISP, they can target you with precise ads.
Are you feeling creeped out yet?
You should be.
We use screen shades to conceal our surfing activity from the weird guy sipping coffee next to us in the cafe. We value our privacy. To learn that our ISP, a service that’s often a local monopoly and one we can’t live without, is trading our Googling for cash is a pretty unsettling feeling.
The bad vibes run deep in this VPN article. But there is excellent news. Using a VPN is simple and easy once you know a few things.
How To Get a VPN
There are various types of VPN services – Free and Paid; Browser and Network.
Let’s cut to the chase on why a free VPN probably isn’t your best solution.
Free VPN Pitfalls
A VPN routes Internet traffic through an anonymous server. What happens when that server is slow? Then your connection to your ISP is also slow. If the direct ISP connection is blazing fast, but your janky free VPN is sluggish, you’re connection will crawl.
Most free VPN will result in a slow connection. However, there is hardly any reason why a VPN company would pay for super-fast servers and not make money. There is nothing extraordinary about the concept of profiting on a business.
Network vs. Browser VPN
You can install a VPN at the browser level.
Imagine you’re using Firefox. You download a VPN plugin. You turn it on. Your Firefox activity is now routed through a VPN service. But nothing else is. You open Chrome or use an email client, or an app like Microsoft Office, and you’re exposed.
The best VPN’s protect your entire device and all accompanying activity. Here’s a list of all the best VPN services ranked. And yeah, HotBot is ranked best VPN according to them.
So a browser VPN works, some, but not all the way.
I would recommend signing up for a free trial to HotBot, which is one of the top-ranked VPN services out there. I use them. I wrote this article while protected by HotBot VPN.
Once you sign up, you can download the app to multiple devices, including your laptop and phone.
Using a VPN like HotBot is pretty cut and dry. You can allow HotBot to find you the best, fastest connection, or you can choose from over 30+ countries.
HotBot protects all your network activity, including what you search via browsers and apps. The service conceals your IP and helps protect your identity.
If you aren’t using a VPN, you’re risking your personal data. It is that simple. There’s little excuse in not using one in a day and age where VPN services are affordable and easy to use.
Whether you use HotBot or another VPN, you must stay protected. Whether a hacker lifting your data or your ISP selling your surfing habits, no one should needlessly expose themselves to risks when they don’t have to.