In this day and age, with most business transactions done either online or mobile devices, it’s still surprising that many people are still not aware of the danger of using public Wi-Fi, especially the ones without a password (even this “password protection” does little to secure your connection although it’s better than nothing).
It’s just the reality that no matter how much you tell your clients or family members not to use free public Wi-Fi for personal or business use, most of them would probably still do it anyway without thinking of the consequences. As a result, more than a few colleagues and family members had to learn it the hard way by getting their credit cards or checking accounts hacked. Some even had cash withdrawn several times within a month.
Fortunately, most banks are getting better at detecting this types of activities early so the monetary loss often times can be minimized. But that’s beside the point, the goal is we want to prevent our accounts getting hacked in the first place. While it’s virtually impossible to make anything connected to the Internet unhackable, we can certainly strive to at least make them not to be too easy. That’s why it’s imperative for everyone to have a “cyber hygiene” and to use VPN (Virtual Private Network) today.
There are many good VPN services, but as a word of caution, avoid free VPN at all cost. The only exception is if it’s from a reputable company that provides it for a very specific cause. Most free VPN provide free services for a reason, to sniff your traffic and you definitely don’t want that. Even paid VPN are not all created equal. As a rule of thumb you want the ones that don’t keep log and resides in countries that don’t have oppressive governments with draconian rules.
Several points as takeaway from this post:
- Do not use FREE public Wi-Fi, except in an emergency and if you have VPN.
- Use VPN whenever you can. It’s non-negotiable if for whatever reasons you need to connect to a public Wi-Fi.
- If you use public Wi-Fi without any security, do not login to any of your accounts especially anything that have to do with sensitive information (finance, tax, health, etc).
Please keep in mind, this recommendation is only intended for general population to have a reasonable security in conducting their daily business and banking transactions using mobile devices and/or personal computer. It is definitely not intended for journalists or private citizens who have a greater need for a secure communication due to being monitored by oppressive governments. As such, the requirements are more stringent and different tools and methods are needed since using VPN alone is not enough.