Coffee Shop Wi-Fi

Do I Need a VPN Service?

Are you using public Wi-Fi? Is any network you are using unprotected—meaning you do not need to enter a password to use it? If you answered yes to either of these questions, then YES you need a VPN service!

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. It allows you to maintain your security and privacy when using public Wi-Fi. If you are a frequent user of unsecured public Wi-Fi in hotels, airports, coffee shops and other venues you should be using a VPN service to protect your identity and your device.

If you are usually at work or home using your mobile devices and computers you do not need to use a VPN.

A VPN does not protect you from more common security threats like phishing in your email. A phishing attempt tries to get you to give up personal information, including passwords, by masquerading as a legitimate service provider, such as a bank or social network.

I don’t even know where to start

Reputable VPN services are based on subscription services with a monthly, or yearly, fee. You have to create an account with a provider either on your computer or mobile device upon downloading and installing their app.

There are a lot of VPN service providers. I personally use and recommend ExpressVPN.

Although, there are many other options available through the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. Make sure you have a reputable vendor that has positive reviews for service, availability in your area, reliability of service, as well as reasonable costs.

Here is an article posted by TechRadar that gives a good overview of what a VPN does, why you would want to use it, and its top ten list of providers.

How do I use a VPN once I have the app?

  1. Connect to the unsecured Wi-Fi network
  2. Open the VPN app
  3. Turn it on or connect it

Once you are connected you will be able to browse and use your device securely.

VPNs are not perfect

You may encounter security hiccups and performance issues depending on what you are doing. A couple of things to note about VPN services:

  • If you have to log into accounts you may have to temporarily turn off the VPN and then turn it on again once logged in.
  • Some accounts allow login based on your location, which is hidden while using a VPN.

There is a learning curve to using these services, but it is worth the protection you get.

I would love to hear feedback on whether you are confused about VPNs, they don’t apply to you, or if you are using one, which one and when? Leave questions and comments on this post.

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