When you access free public Wi-Fi hotspots, you’re doing it at your own risk. You’re practically begging hackers and other cybercriminals to steal private and sensitive information, such as banking details and passwords, from your mobile devices and laptop. Although you may use the best VPN for public WiFi, there are still plenty of risks involved.
So if these criminals get their hands on such information, they can do a lot of damage with it. Wipe your bank account clean, for instance.
But free Wi-Fi is understandably alluring, especially now that people need to be connected anytime, anywhere.
However, rather than shun public Wi-Fi, you should protect yourself from potential security risks.
The Best VPNs to Use for Public WiFi Hotspots
Now let’s take a look at the most essential features of the best VPNs for public Wifi that we recommend.
- Uses double encryption to maintain tight security
- Thousands of servers in different countries
- Allows P2P file sharing
- Up to 6 devices can simultaneously connect under one account
- Unlimited downloading and streaming
- Comes with a no-risk 30-day money back guarantee
- Weak server recommendation feature
- Some servers are slower than others
NordVPN offers a highly reliable and secure connection to public WiFi hotspots. Since security is the primary concern, you can’t do better than what this VPN has to offer. It also uses other smart tools like DNS leak protection.
Its graphic interface is not only attractive but also easy to use. And if you are an advanced user who wants to customize their VPN, NordVPN lets you do just that. For instance, you get to choose which server to use.
What is even better is that your privacy is well-protected, with absolutely no logs. Once you disconnect, you’re virtually off the grid.
Based in Panama, it is out of the reach of the Five Eyes spy network.
- Uses OpenVPN service to provide the best form of encryption
- Comes with other security features, like a DNS leak protection and automatic kill switch
- VPN servers are spread across 94 countries
- Doesn’t collect logs
- Instantly unblock sites and apps
- Allows P2P file sharing
- 24/7 customer service
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Pricing is a bit high compared to other VPNs
- A connection is limited to only three devices at any one time
ExpressVPN puts an additional layer of protection by combining additional security features. With their OpenVPN service, it excels in providing a high level of protection with its AES 256-bit encryption via OpenSSL and supports major operating systems. It can also bypass Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) that many countries use to inspect traffic passing through them.
Since no logs are collected, you don’t have to worry about your browsing history. That also means ExpressVPN doesn’t have access to any of your data.
One of its defining features is its connection speed at ultra-fast speed, thanks to its many servers spread across many locations. It will not call itself the world’s fastest VPN without the ability to back it up.
ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands.
- Combines security and privacy features, including a remarkable encryption
- 750 service across 180 locations
- Supports multiple platforms and devices
- Runs on five separate devices
- Allows P2P file sharing
- Split Tunneling
- 24/7 live support
- Intermittent connections can be a problem for some servers
- Support may take longer to respond occasionally
- Verification of some security features are difficult
- 3-day money-back guarantee
PureVPN is based in Hong Kong so it’s out of reach of the Five Eyes spy network. While it is particularly impressive at an affordable rate, not all its features work as advertised.
Hard-core privacy advocates won’t be impressed with the connection logs that the VPN stores. It presents potential risks.
It allows viewing of geo-locked content and supports OpenVPN and other protocols. Although IP addresses can be discoverable, this risk can be mitigated as long as you are extra careful with your data.
PureVPN has apps for Windows, Android, iOS and Mac OS, and supports routers and other similar devices. Set up tutorials are available.
How do you make a choice?
Each of the VPNs listed above offers something different. So choose one based on your needs and not on pricing alone.
Furthermore, because security is the main reason for VPN usage, pick the most secure among your options.
Why use a VPN at all?
Using a VPN for public WiFi may seem like a hassle, but you could lose a lot without one.
Don’t think that hackers and cyber criminals wouldn’t take notice of you because you’re only watching cat videos online. Every connected device is an opportunity for them.
Without a VPN, you’re freely giving away:
- Your location and IP address
- Passwords and login details for websites, including shopping sites and online banks
- Emails, personal messages, and social media posts
- Files sent that may contain sensitive business information and personal images
With a VPN, you’re protecting yourself against:
Hackers who intercept traffic between devices and the internet. The goal is to gain access to banking details, security codes, credit card information, and other data that can be used for making money.
The Man-in-the-middle that not only intercepts a device’s traffic but also diverts it. Whatever information you’re sending to someone else is redirected to the criminal’s device instead. Man-in-the-middle can even eavesdrop on confidential conversations.
Fake networks where you are fooled into logging into Wi-Fi hotspots posing as legitimate. Once connected to the false network, you’re vulnerable to identity theft and other security risks.
Malware distribution that cybercriminals love to disseminate over public WiFi connections. Malware, ransomware, and viruses will find their way into your mobile device or laptop without you even knowing it. That is until the damage is done.
So there you have them, plenty of reasons why you need a VPN to protect yourself when using public Wi-Fi. In addition, they provide a secret tunnel for your data to make it safe and inaccessible.
But don’t settle for a free VPN though. In the virtual marketplace, you usually get what you pay for. Free, in this case, means you get some form of protection but also less protection.
On that note, choose from one of the three best VPNs for public WiFi listed above for your security and peace of mind.