I’ve never given much thought to connecting to public Wi-Fi. Just search for an open signal, connect, hit “accept” on any screen that might pop up , and then do whatever I need to online. What harm could there be in that? Well, apparently, there are plenty of dangers we can open ourselves up to without first protecting the connection.
Public Wi-Fi is not secure and any information you put in while connected to that server is at risk of being stolen. No wonder companies will have you agree to their terms before use. That way they can’t be held responsible for what might happen during your session! However, so few actually read those terms and conditions that companies could easily include all kind of ridiculous clauses and none would be the wiser.
To test this, F-Secure conducted a little experiment by opening a public Wi-Fi signal with a unique clause attached to it. According to this article, “One of the terms stipulated that the user must give up their firstborn child or most beloved pet in exchange for WiFi use. In the short time the T&C page was active, six people agreed to the outlandish clause.” Scary, right?!
So does that mean you should steer clear of any public Wi-Fi at all costs? Not at all. Just make sure you log on with an extra layer of security such as F-Secure Freedome VPN and follow good practices. A VPN (virtual private network) allows you to connect though a secured data channel, encrypting the information going in and out of your connection.
Setting Freedome VPN up on your Windows or Apple laptop is as easy as installing the program and clicking one button to toggle it on and off. On a mobile device (available on iOS, Android, and Windows), there is an extra step to confirm your desire to set up a VPN. This is super easy as prompts automatically pop up to help you through the process. FYI, if you have an iWatch you can use that as a remote for starting and stopping the service on your iPhone.
Once you set Freedom VPN “on” by tapping the center circle, you are free to start surfing the net worry free. The app will keep a real-time tally of any tracking or phishing attempts that were thwarted. Ads in general are not blocked but snooping and popups that might contain malware are. In the works is a feature that will allow you to see where any suspicious activity is coming from.
When I was away on a press trip earlier in the month, I was practically living on public Wi-Fi. I had to connect at the hotel, at restaurants, at airports, and at the convention center. With all of the cellular data I used up on Periscope during the event, it was necessary for me to jump on public Wi-Fi whenever possible to continue my live stream of tweets, Facebook updates, and Instagram posts. However, each time I did find a network to join, I made sure to turn on Freedome VPN.
I didn’t notice a major lag in connection time and I felt a whole lot more secure. It was shocking to see the number of tracking requests from visiting well-known and trusted sites like Mashable. Freedome VPN didn’t notice any hacking attempts so far but I don’t want to give hackers any openings by not having my connection protected.
After learning about the dangers of public Wi-Fi and just how easy it can be to protect my information, now I will always make sure I have Freedome VPN running first. If you want to see how beneficial the service is for yourself (and your family), visit the Freedome VPN site and enter “cttpc3” for a 3-month trial. Taking advantage of a convenient way of staying connected shouldn’t put your private information in jeopardy!
I have been compensated for my participation in testing this program and my honest feedback. All opinions are my own.