There are various reasons as to why you should always use a VPN when connecting to the Internet via a public Wi-Fi network.
Essentially, all the reasons arise out of the fact that there are many types of risks that you face when you are using a public Wi-Fi network. Interestingly, every time you are using such network, you get exposed to all these risks.
Here are some of the risks that you face when you connect to a public Wi-Fi. They form the reasons as to why you need to use a VPN whenever you are connecting to the Internet via a public Wi-Fi network.
1. The network may be unencrypted
Encryption is by far the most reliable way of protecting communication. By encryption, messages are changed to a different form using a particular key. It is only the parties who have access to the key that can encrypt the messages and access them. Therefore, encryption provides an additional layer of security in that it makes it difficult for hackers to decipher a message even if they manage to access it by chance.
All the routers that are used in public Wi-Fi networks have a feature that allows users to encrypt all the messages that the router exchanges with the devices using the network. However, at default, manufacturers of the routers usually disable this encryption feature. It is upon the customers to reactivate this feature when they are setting up their networks. However, the chances are that someone may have forgotten to activate the encryption feature when setting up the network, thus exposing users of the network to various hacking threats.
2. Cyber criminals can hijack your social media accounts
It is possible for cybercriminals, using sophisticated hacking tools, to access your social media accounts when you are using a public Wi-Fi network. In practice, criminals start by attempting to secretly find out what users of a public Wi-Fi network are doing online. First, the hackers have to breach the security features of the network and gain access to important aspects of the network.
Once hackers can secretly access a public Wi-Fi network, they can start to probe what individual users of the network are doing online. It is possible for cybercriminals to secretly collect all the information that users fill in websites when on such networks. Also, cyber criminals can surreptitiously take control of social media accounts of the users who are on such a network.
3. You may become a victim of a Man in the Middle attack
A Man in the Middle attack is a sophisticated form of attack in which a third person can get in-between communications that you carry out when connected to a public Wi-Fi network. Essentially, when you are connected to a network, your computer sends messages to the different websites that you visit. In return, your computer receives messages from the websites.
However, a third person can successfully get in-between these communications and read them. If this happens, you face various risks. For example, you lose your privacy when a third person can successfully read what you are doing online. Also, hackers can use this type of attack to steal your login credentials because they can read all the information that you are posting on the websites that you visit.
4. The risk of malware attacks
Malware distribution is a big business in the dark web. Dedicated sites develop and distribute malware to unsuspecting users. Other cybercriminals have taken it upon themselves to attempt to infect as many computers as possible with different forms of malware attacks. To achieve this objective, cybercriminals usually take advantage of known security vulnerabilities of networks and even operating systems.
It is possible for hackers to identify you as a potential target of a malware attack when you are using a public Wi-Fi network. If this happens, the hackers can manage to inject your computer with malware programs. It is also possible for hackers to successfully hijack your computer and enslave it as part of a botnet that spreads malware program to other computers.
5. Fake networks
It is possible for hackers to set up a fake public Wi-Fi network and lure unsuspecting victims into connecting to it. The fake network may be very similar to a genuine public Wi-Fi network. If you log into the fake network, you end up losing your credentials because the fake network always leads to sites that mine your data and steal your important information.
In conclusion, these are the risks that you face every time you connect to a public Wi-Fi network. It follows that the best way of avoiding these risks and staying safe when you are using a public Wi-Fi network is to use a VPN service.