Public Wi-Fi hotspots are everywhere. Your favorite coffee shop has one. Your local library has one and many buses, planes and trains have them too. Hotspots are great ways to save mobile data on your phone or get online on your laptop when traveling. But could that convenience put you at risk? The answer, unfortunately, is yes.
The Risks of Public Hotspots
Many public Wi-Fi hotspots are unsecured or poorly secured, which could expose you to dangers ranging from annoying to serious. An attacker may see exactly what pages you visit and anything that you type into those sites, including your home address, telephone number, and other personal information. Ordering an item online may expose your credit-card information. Your device could be infected with malware, especially if the hotspot itself has been compromised or is malicious. For most people, figuring out whether a hotspot is safe is just not practical. But how can you protect yourself online when you can’t trust your Internet connection?
The Benefits of a VPN
One of the best solutions is to use a virtual private network, commonly known as a VPN. A VPN securely routes your Internet traffic through a server so that websites see the server’s IP address rather than yours while the hotspot sees only that you are connected to the server. That way, you can bypass a hotspot’s questionable security, since the encrypted VPN connection hides what you are doing from the Wi-Fi network.
However, most people usually use trusted networks with reliable security, like home, work, and mobile networks. Subscribing to a paid VPN service may be impractical for the occasional times when it is needed. Free VPNs are attractive, but then you need to consider whether you can trust the free service. Unfortunately, some free VPNs have questionable reputation or keep logs on users to sell to third parties.
The Advantage of Opera
The Opera browser VPN also comes with a handy feature to help you get the best results from your online searches. If you search for “hardware stores near me” with most VPNs, your results may be based on the location of the VPN server, which could be in another country or at least not anywhere near you. With Opera, you can bypass the VPN feature for searches. Simply enable the option in the VPN settings, and requests sent to your default search engine will be exempt from the VPN. You’ll be able to get the right results based on your location without compromising the rest of your Internet use.
Online privacy is a complicated subject, but staying safe on public Wi-Fi doesn’t need to be. The next time you need to use a public hotspot, try switching on the browser VPN feature in Opera for a simple, safe way to protect yourself online.
Curious to know more about the browser VPN in Opera for Android? Check out this article on our blog.
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