Freely available public Wi-Fi at our local coffee shop, retail outlet, airport, etc., keeps us constantly connected and productive. So, while we rarely ask ourselves, “will there be Wi-Fi there?” we also don’t ask about the security of those Wi-Fi networks. The convenience and ubiquity of Wi-Fi often come at the cost of your cyber security and privacy. So how can you stay secure when connecting to public Wi-Fi?
To answer this question and more, WatchGuard’s CTO, Corey Nachreiner, recently published an article on GeekWire titled, “VPNs are your safest bet for public Wi-Fi: A security pro’s tips for getting started.”
In this article, he talks about the threats users face when logging on to public Wi-Fi, such as password theft, malware injection, and more. These threats are exactly why VPNs are critical security tools. As Corey states, “A VPN connection sets up an encrypted tunnel between your client (whether it be your phone, your tablet, or your laptop) and a trusted endpoint across the internet far outside the wireless network.”
What’s the best way to get started with a VPN? Here are some tips (read the entire article for a complete list):
- Before signing up for a VPN subscription service, check with your employer to see if they have a VPN you should use.
- For personal equipment and other instances where connecting back to the office isn’t an option, there are plenty of VPN solutions available. Some VPN services like ExpressVPN and NordVPN focus on speed and throughput while others like PrivateInternetAccess and F-Secure Freedome focus more on privacy by not keeping any logs of user activity.
- Depending on the VPN provider you select, there can be multiple connection points across the United States and internationally. If speed is your top priority, selecting the location closest to you is usually the best bet.
The article also includes a step-by-step guide for setting up a VPN, key “gotchas” to consider, and some final recommendations for the VPN newcomer.
Want to learn more about what SMBs are doing to help secure public Wi-Fi? Check out this Secplicity post titled “SMBs Need to Stop, Drop and Secure Their Public Wi-Fi Hotspots.” And if you want to dive even deeper into public Wi-Fi threats, read “Wi-Fi Hacking at the Hotel Pool.”