How To Use Public Wi-Fi Safely?


These days Wi-Fi has become an irreplaceable part of our life to such an extent that if you visit someone they offer you their Wi-Fi password before they offer you water. But when we are out of our homes we need to slip back to cellular data with all it’s limitations and high cost.

In such circumstances the greatest joy is finding free public Wi-Fi near your school college or workplace. People flock to places offering free Wi-Fi like cafeterias, malls etc.

But as they say ‘There is no such thing as Free Lunch’.

The Wi-Fi may be free but it’s a HUGE Privacy Hazard.


Because as the name suggests, it is ‘Public’.
There are dozens of people connected to the same router so basically anyone can access any content that is shared to the router.
But, fortunately if you are accessing websites protected by End-To-End encryption, the attacker will easily be able to access the content that you transmit but it would be illegible due to the encryption.

Feeling relieved?

Don’t Be. Any accomplished hacker can decrypt  the information using various softwares depending on the type and strength and type of Encryption used.
Using Encrypted Websites that is the ones with ‘https’ should protect you for most part but that isn’t total protection.

In order to be completely protected, you need to use something known as a VPN.
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. What VPN does is establishes a secure tunnel linking your device to a secure Server. All your traffic is routed through that server (of course encrypted) then to other websites. Because of this an attacker is unable to intercept your traffic and thus can cause no harm.

So how to actually implement that?
It’s pretty simple.

First is to ensure that you connect with all websites only through encrypted channel. That is use ‘https’ everywhere. For that you will require a Browser Extension known as ‘HTTPS Everywhere‘. Built by the Electronic Frontier Foundation it is considered as the golden standard in encrypting websites. Read about other must have Browser Extensions here.
HTTPS Everywhere forces all websites to deliver only the ‘https’ versions that is ssl encrypted.

Next is using a VPN.
VPNs are provided by many companies and are either free or paid. You can get pretty good ones free but with lower speed.
Choosing the VPN is entirely personal thing. You might catch liking to some VPN’s User Interface or Pricing or anything like that. But there are somethings that must be considered.
It is preferred if the servers are located in non-US/UK countries preferably Switzerland, Netherlands,  Romania etc.

I have used and tested a number of VPN services and here’s a list of the best ones.

1) Bitmask which is available for Android and Linux and is coming soon for Windows and very soon for iOS. Upon installing Bitmask you can either use RiseUp VPN or Calyx VPN. RiseUp is the preferred one. Bitmask is open source which means it’s codes have been analysed and tested by the thousands of people and have withstood the scrutiny.
The most important factor in favor of Bitmask is that there is no data or time restriction for using it.

2) Psiphon Pro/ Psiphon3: For Android and Windows respectively, Psiphon’s free version has a speed limit of 2 Mbps and is again a good and tested solution.

3) CyberGhost: An old and well tested VPN service it has been used a LOT. But it’s free version has a three hours time limit. It’s a good solution for small time use.

There are other notable mentions like Opera VPN (for android), Hola, Hotspot Shield (Windows) and many many other services. [A google search will deliver thousands].

Using HTTPS Everywhere and a VPN will definitely protect you from malicious users of a public Wi-Fi. It’s the end game for an hacker and necessary for the protection of your private and sensitive information.
Be Wise, Stay Safe!

Author: Rohan Dandavate

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