New York City is one of the latest cities to launch a free public Wi-Fi service, with San Jose going live in the summer of 2012. This is great news for anyone who carries a mobile device. Security experts warned this may be a double-edged sword. While it greatly increases the availability of Wi-Fi access, it also increases the threat of data theft. Like any public Wi-Fi hotspot, using a VPN should be considered a necessary security step for users. At the same time, there are a few aspects of city sponsored hotspots which increase the risks even more.
City Sponsored Hotspots Become Prime Targets for Data Snoopers
When San Jose launched their free service to residents, they made a point to note that the hotspots are unsecured. This means it is up to the user to take the necessary steps to protect themselves, such as establishing a VPN connection. It is not a secret that many Wi-Fi hotspots across the country are not adequately protected. City sponsored Wi-Fi access easily becomes a prime target for data snoopers.
A primary characteristic of data snoopers is their ability to balance the risk of getting caught against the potential rewards. Since the cities have openly stated their public Wi-Fi will not be secure, they are placing all of the responsibility at the feet of users. This is the ideal scenario for data snoopers because most people neglect to implement any form of protection, such as a VPN. Additionally, the city is providing free Wi-Fi is not going to do anything to prevent data snooping from happening. In fact, most cities to offer this have publicly stated government employees will be using a secure VPN connection rather than the open connection available to the public.
Now Is the Time to Start Using a VPN
Security experts have been actively advocating the use of a VPN for anyone accessing a public Wi-Fi hotspot for more than a decade. While few heed this advice, the number of threats continues to grow. Without a doubt, now is the time to start using a VPN for all wireless connections.
What Makes a VPN Uniquely Beneficial?
There are a variety of strategies people can use to protect themselves when they are connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot. Using a VPN provides several unique benefits which other methods of protection lack. The biggest benefit is encryption. Not only does a VPN tunnel protect data as it is being transferred between the user’s device and VPN server, but it also encrypts all of the data. This provides an additional layer of safety because even if a data snoopers locates the data stream they will not be able to read the data. Another unique benefit is reliability. Unlike other methods of protection, once a VPN is configured additional updates are rarely required.
With more cities offering free Wi-Fi hotspots to the public, the reliance on Wi-Fi will continue to grow. This increases the potential rewards a data snoopers can gain from tapping into an unsecure connection. The easiest way for residents to create a safe browsing environment is by selecting a quality VPN service provider and always establishing an Android VPN connection when using a Wi-Fi hotspot.
Author Byline: Frank Fuller is a part-time blogger enjoys sharing the latest technology news. He enjoys using his One to connect to public Wi-Fi wherever he goes. His articles educate the public the importance of online safety.
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