People spend a large percentage of time browsing the internet. From checking your Facebook account and other social media accounts, to finding a new outfit for the weekend, the amount of people accessing the internet has increased massively.

The convenience of using a smartphone has led to increased access to the web via phones and the high availability of WiFi or 3G/4G has also meant it is a lot easier to do than it was in the past. So getting onto the internet is simple these days, a few simple clicks and you’re away. However, what you might not be giving much thought to is how safe you are on whilst you are doing all of these things.

When you link up to a public WiFi hotspot you are sharing it with lots of other people and the majority of the WiFi networks do not have good levels of security. So this makes you very vulnerable to being hacked. Cyber criminals are constantly developing new schemes to try and use security weaknesses like this to steal money. If you want to make sure that you protect yourself as much as you can, you should avoid entering or accessing any personal data whilst you are using public WiFi networks.

If you use apps for mobile banking then it is wise not to use public WiFi to access them, you should always make sure you are on a secure connection when using details like your bank details. You can also check the security on the websites that you visit by looking at the URL address. Most sites will start with ‘http’ or ‘https’, ones that are secure will have the ‘s’. This means that any data you enter will be encrypted and is much harder for hackers to retrieve.

Many people make the mistake of thinking that the WiFi provider is responsible for the security of your data but that is kind of like saying the company that built a road is completely responsible for your safety whilst you are on it. The truth is that you need to take responsibility for the security of your own data. So two ways of doing that, as we have mentioned are not entering personal details, passwords, accounts etc. whilst on public WiFi and also checking for the security of the website by its URL address.

Another increasingly popular way of protecting your personal data whilst using public WiFi is by using a VPN. A VPN is a virtual private network that provides end to end encryption, making it much more secure than if you were to do the same activity without it. A VPN can also protect your identity, so that people having a snoop around won’t know that it is you. The VPN ‘cloaks’ your connection to keep your identity and activity private. Some people use a VPN to access TV channels from abroad, as the provider will not be able to identify the country that the client-end connection is from.

There are all kinds of ways that VPNs are useful to different people in different ways. If you are a regular user of public WiFi connections then you really should find out more about how a VPN could help you to stay secure. The last thing you want is to end up compromising your bank account details and opening yourself up to online fraud.

Another good reason is because the US Congress and Senate recently removed privacy protection for internet users, which allows their access providers to sell their browsing data! Obtaining a VPN is the best way of ensuring that they can’t buy any data about your browsing activity.