More and more people are using smartphones and tablets and since these practical devices allow you to connect to internet on the go, there is also an increasing number of businesses and public places that offer WiFi hotspots. It is possible to enjoy the convenience of free WiFi in Coffee shops, hotels, restaurants, airports and more. However, when you connect to public WiFi, your privacy is at risk and you are more vulnerable to attacks from online fraudsters.
The threats to privacy have intensified with the appearance of Firesheep, an add-on for Firefox that uses a packet sniffer that facilitates hacking, even for those with little technical skills. With Firesheep it is possible to intercept unencrypted cookies from websites like Twitter and Facebook. Although this extension won’t give access to login details (usernames and passwords), it will allow others to take over your current session. They will be able to use the website as you, getting access to your personal information, posting, changing your password or even deleting your account. Firesheep represents a serious risk for those who use public WiFi hotspots, but it is not the only one.
Evil twin hotspots are another issue that affects public WiFi. Since packet sniffers and similar tools only work in unsecured networks, many hackers lurk public hotsposts and set up a fake mobile hotspot to attract unsuspecting users. They are likely to use a name that refers to the place in which you are. They can set up a hotspot with the name of the hotel or the coffee shop (or a generic “Airport Open WiFi” or “Free Coffee shop WiFi”) you are visiting and when you try to connect to internet, you may choose their fake mobile hotspot by mistake. Once you connect to their malicious WiFi, they will be able to get access to your cache and maybe even to your shared folders.
Some hackers would go as far as to try to get you to pay for internet access or other options with the purpose of getting your payment details. While these issues reveal the scary side of public WiFi hotspots, the truth is that they are also very practical and there will be many situations in which we have no choice but to use them. The good news is that there is a way to protect your internet connection anywhere you are and that is using a VPN.
A VPN establishes a secure tunnel between your device and the VPN server, keeping third parties (hackers, your ISP, etc) unable to get access to your data. It should be noted that in order to ensure the best level of security, it is advisable to avoid PPTP since it is known as the weakest protocol out there. Most VPN services offer effective protection when you are connecting to a public WiFi, but we have listed some of the most secure, fast and reliable options available.
Below are the best options for Wifi Hotspots
Private Internet Access
PIA is well-known and it has maintained a leading place in the world of VPNs. Not only their prices are very affordable, but their service is also fast, effective and easy to use. While they only cover 24 countries, which may seem limited when compared to other providers, they have over 3,300 servers so you can easily find an option that suits you. PIA doesn’t keep logs of your online activities and you can have up to five simultaneous connections.
ExpressVPN is a reliable name when it comes to VPN services thanks to their fantastic speeds, user-friendly software and excellent customer service. They have servers in 87 countries and offer high encryption to keep your data protected at all times. Although their plans are more expensive than other options available, ExpressVPN offers such a good service that the price is justified.
Based in Hungary, Buffered is a company that in a relatively short time has managed to become one of the most convenient solutions in the VPN industry. Their network of servers currently covers 36 countries but it is constantly growing and you can find popular options like the US and the UK in the list. The software offers remarkable design and quality and it is also easy to use. One of the highlights of Buffered is the WiFi busting firewall, a feature that allows you to detect open ports in a protected WiFi network. That port can be used to bypass any payment system on a WiFI network.
Thanks to the fact that they are a Tier-1 provider (meaning that they manage their own network of servers), IPVanish is able to offer impressive speeds and consistently good performance. There are over 500 servers in more than 60 countries and they support up to 5 simultaneous connections. Their plans are affordable and their customer support is helpful, efficient and very responsive. IPVanish doesn’t keep logs of your online activity and offers top level encryption.