As I sit here in a coffee shop writing there is one thing different on my laptop, iPad and iPhone. Different from most other users sitting with their laptops and devices checking email, on Facebook and surfing the web on the free wifi. The difference is the Virtual Private Networking (VPN) connection that I have running on my devices.
You can hardly go anywhere now without finding a free wifi hotspot. The problem is that VPN use is not as prevalent. Most mainstream users who use VPN do it not for security but to watch shows that are blocked by location. This is one of the features of VPN but not the one that should be widely known. A VPN connection allows the user to send information over the internet that is secured using the private network connection. A free wifi connection means that everyone using it is on the same network. I think users view a network as something they use at work. They look at a wifi connection whether at home or in the coffee shop as an internet connection. A connection that their devices only use to get to the internet. If they thought of it as a network connection. They might realize that all the devices on the free wifi connection are on the same network. Which makes it easier for anyone with the know how and tools to gather information from all the devices on the network. People would be amazed at the information knowledgable users could then gather from that information. Usernames, passwords, browsing habits, sites they visited, searches they performed and tons of other information. Connecting to a bank account might be a disaster.
The reason most people don’t suffer hacks because of this is simply odds. However do you want to continue tempting fate based on odds? Using a VPN would tip those odds in the users’ favor. The cost is not prohibitive and there are so many options that it’s just irresponsible computing not to have one. Since there are many options out there please do your research before choosing one. Don’t just go with the “free” option because after all, this is about security. There aren’t many free things in the world so if a company offers something for “free” there is something the user is giving up. Personally I use Cloak VPN and it has been a great experience. They offer a 30 day free trial which introduces users to the service and how it works. But this VPN is only useful if you only use a Mac. It works on both Mac OS and iOS but there are no other clients. If you’re rocking a Windows computer or Android device there are many other VPNs out there. If you are a Mac user Cloak has great prices and the service is top notch. iOS has a bug which randomly turns the VPN on even on trusted networks which would result in plan overages. Cloak has offered all plans the 1 Terabyte (TB) option until the bug is fixed. They even covered IPv6 Leakage and DNS Hijackiing concerns that was brought up in “A look through the VPN Glass” on their blog. What happens and how IPv6 and DNS Hijacking pertains to Cloak’s VPN services. All things I consider to be the actions of a responsible service provider.
Now that you have all the information go do some research and secure your computing.