WiFi has many perks, not the least of which is the freedom found in wandering away from the tether of an ethernet cable. However, if you stray away from your business or home WiFi, you have to brave the troubled waters of public-access WiFI. Here your internet traffic can be accessed by anyone with the skills to do so. To protect your personal or sensitive business communications, you should use a virtual private network, or VPN.
Honeypots and Other Threats
If you are not tech savvy, you may not be privy to all the ways that those who have bad intentions can gain access to the information you send over the internet. A honeypot is just one example of a strategy used by hackers to gain access to information. They basically create a page that looks like a legitimate part of the website you want to access, but any information you enter or pass through this page can be accessed by the hackers. In order to avoid honeypots and other dangers lurking on the internet, you need to make your connection and your messages secure. This is where a VPN can be useful.
What Is a VPN?
A virtual private network is a mechanism for making your information private even when you are using a public WiFi hotspot. A VPN can provide this security in a few different ways, but you want to make sure that both your data and connection are secure. When you look into installing a VPN on your phone or computer, you want to make sure that whatever VPN app you use both creates a tunnel and handles encryption. A tunnel refers to the software's ability to make a secure connection. Ideally, any information that passes through this tunnel should be able to bypass filters and should be secure from hackers. Encryption provides a second layer of protection so that if anyone does get a hold of information that passes through your secure channel, the information they get is encrypted and unusable.
If you are working for a corporation, they will likely have protocols for how to use a VPN, which VPN provider to use, and when you must use it. However, whether you are sending personal or business information over the internet, you should use a VPN whenever you use publicly accessible WiFi to protect that information. If you have questions about how to set up or use VPN software, you should talk to the IT specialist at your company and/or talk to someone who handles IT support for private individuals.