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How VPN Shields Data on Public Wi-Fi Networks

30 avril 2024

Using public wifi is convenient, especially when you're out of the house and don't want to use your valuable data. However, logging in to a public network isn't as safe as surfing the internet at home.

Cybercriminals will often target public hotspots as a way of accessing devices with weak security measures.

Lets dive into how VPN technology can help protect you, so you can continue surfing on public wifi.

What Are Common Threats On Public Wi-Fi?

With VPNs, cybercriminals won’t be able to track your online search history and activity, making it almost impossible to steal your data.

Cybercriminals will often target public Wi-Fi networks to gain access to passwords and credit card details. However, with increasingly sophisticated methods, some are able to download ransomware over public networks onto your device.

Let’s take a look at the typical vulnerabilities found on public Wi-Fi networks.

Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) Attacks

In a Man in the Middle (MITM) attack, cybercriminals position themselves between your device and the network, intercepting and modifying communication.

This enables them to secretly listen in on your activities, farm sensitive information, inject harmful code into web pages, or redirect your traffic to fraudulent websites created to steal your data. This can be counteracted over your home wifi by using encrypted RabbitMQ communication channels. However, this isn’t possible over public Wi-Fi networks.

Packet Sniffing

Cybercriminals have the ability to employ “sniffing” tools to intercept and examine the data packets transmitted over public Wi-Fi networks. Cybercriminals use packet sniffing to extract information from unencrypted network traffic, which puts your usernames, passwords, and other confidential data at risk of exposure.

Rogue Hotspots

Fraudsters will create Wi-Fi networks using authentic names like "FreeAirportWiFi" or "HotelGuestNetwork." Once users connect to these hotspots, the attackers can gain access to their devices to monitor their actions and pilfer valuable personal data.

Malware Distribution

Cyber attackers can exploit Wi-Fi networks to distribute harmful malware onto your unsuspecting device. They will inject software into the network traffic, infecting connected devices and breaking down their security barriers.

Session Hijacking

Attackers will take advantage of weaknesses in your network or device to take control of your sessions. They will enter your accounts, like online banking and social media, even if you’ve logged in securely.

Data Leakage

Malicious individuals lurking on networks can take innocent data, like device names, operating systems, and browsing patterns. When accumulated over time, this information can be utilized to construct an outline of your online behavior.

How Does a VPN Shield Your Data on Public Wi-Fi?

To counteract the many security issues with using public Wi-Fi, VPNs act as your shield, encrypting and safeguarding your data. By masking your information, you can connect to public Wi-Fi safely.

Let’s take a look at how a VPN will protect you when connecting to public Wi-Fi.

Data Encryption

When you connect to a Wi-Fi network without a VPN, your information is usually transmitted as plain text, which hackers can easily intercept. However, when you use a VPN, all the data sent and received from your device gets encrypted. This means that your information is converted into a code that can only be understood with the correct decryption key. As a result, even if hackers manage to intercept your data, they won't be able to comprehend its contents.

Secure Tunneling

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) establishes a protected pathway connecting your device and the VPN server. This pathway acts as a barrier safeguarding your data from being accessed by anyone, on the same Wi-Fi network, including potential attackers. Instead, all of your activity is channeled through this encrypted pathway, significantly reducing the chances of hackers intercepting or tampering with your data.

This is particularly important if you’re performing work activities over public Wi-Fi. A VPN isn’t a failsafe option - if you’re using a CRM system, protect your data by using a VPN combined with a decoupled CMS architecture.

IP Address Masking

When you use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to connect to the internet, your actual IP address can reveal your location, and device information becomes hidden. Instead, websites and online services only see the IP address of the VPN server that you're connected to. This extra layer of privacy and anonymity helps protect your activities by preventing websites and online trackers from creating profiles based on your browsing behavior.

Server Intermediary

VPNs redirect your data through their servers, which are frequently situated in countries. This provides a level of privacy and enables you to appear as though you are browsing from a different geographic location. This can come in handy when trying to access restricted content based on your location or bypass censorship measures.

Protection from Man-in-the-Middle Attacks

A VPN's encryption and secure tunnel effectively prevent man-in-the-middle attacks. Even if someone tries to intercept your data while you're connected to a Wi-Fi network, they will only encounter encrypted information, making it extremely difficult to comprehend or manipulate it.

Public Wi-Fi Network Isolation

When you connect to a Wi-Fi network, other devices on the same network may potentially threaten your device's security. However, using a VPN effectively creates a barrier between your device and other devices on the network, thereby decreasing the likelihood of attacks.

Data Integrity

VPNs offer more than safeguarding data confidentiality; they also guarantee data integrity. With the ability to prevent access and ensure that data remains unaltered during transit, VPNs provide additional security against cyber threats.

Secure Remote Access

Besides safeguarding Wi-Fi connections, VPNs are extensively utilized to ensure secure remote entry to private networks. This holds significance for businesses and institutions aiming to facilitate their employees with secure access to company resources even while working remotely.

Use Public Wi-Fi Safely with VPNs

Defend yourself against dangerous public Wi-Fi networks with a VPN shield. With encryption methods, VPNs protect our data by wrapping it in a highly secure layer, making it impossible for anyone to interpret.

By establishing connections between our devices and distant servers, VPNs guarantee that our online actions stay private even when we're connecting to public Wi-Fi on the go, whether you’re in an airport or working in a coffee shop.