A lot of us know that it’s not safe to connect to unsecured public Wi-Fi hotspots like those found in coffee shops, airports, and hotels. Although Wi-Fi hotspots allow travelers to access the Internet on the go, unencrypted wireless connections are inherently risky.
The advent of Firesheep has made Wi-Fi hotspots even more dangerous as it allows people with absolutely no hacking skills to intercept the unencrypted cookies transferred from sites like Twitter and Facebook over public wireless networks. This makes it possible for them to ‘sidejack’ a user’s current browsing session and use the site as if they were that user.
However, it does not give them access to user names or passwords. The hacker can download the personal details of the user, delete their account, and change their passwords. They can also download illegal material using that account.
The existence of ‘evil twin hotspots’ makes this problem even worse. Packet sniffer works only on unsecured public networks and only when you connect to unsecured websites. These are the websites whose URLs start with http:// instead of https://.
Packet sniffers also work on things like FTP connections and POP3 email. POP3 snooping is even more dangerous as it allows hackers to access a user’s email credentials when they sync their accounts with a POP3 server. It isn’t surprising that hackers hang around public Wi-Fi hotspots and even set up their own fake mobile hotspots with names like ‘Free Airport Public Wi-Fi’. Some hackers even manage to fool people into paying for accessing the Internet, which gives them the payment details of the user.
There are two solutions to this problem. The first one is to avoid using public Wi-Fi networks altogether. The second (and the smarter solution) is to use a VPN service. A VPN creates a secure tunnel between the computer/smartphone and their server, so nobody can see the data sent by the user and received over the Internet.
Here are a few VPN companies that can offer protection against the risks of connecting to public Wi-Fi networks.
IPVanish is a well-known name in the VPN industry. They have servers in over 60 countries. By choosing a server close to your location, you will be able to enjoy high speed connectivity. IPVanish supports almost all operating systems.
Read the IPVanish review
If you are not familiar with VPNs, you will appreciate the intuitive client software provided by PureVPN. It makes connecting to their network as easy as the alphabet. There is no scary technical jargon on their website, and they support nearly all encryption protocols and devices.
Read the full PureVPN review
BolehVPN is perhaps the best Asian company in this sector. They are based in Malaysia and this makes them hugely popular with users who do not want to use a VPN company based in the US or the European Union. Their prices are affordable, and if you sign up for a long term service plan, you will receive attractive discounts.
Read the BolehVPN review
VyprVPN have been offering VPN services since 1994, and are a well-known name in this industry. When you use their service, ISPs or government spying agencies won’t be able to keep a tab on your Internet activities.
Read the VyprVPN review
Private Internet Access
Private Internet Access protects your data by encrypting it before transmitting it over the Internet. They also hide your true IP address. This allows you to browse the web anonymously. They have more than 1,500 servers in different parts of the world. Using their VPN service, you will be able to visit geographically restricted websites from any part of the world.
Read the Private Internet Access review