October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month and the focus is on you, the user. All the privacy and security features in the world are worth nothing if we ourselves don’t apply some best practices to our online life. So let’s talk about one of the most obvious ways we put ourselves at risk online.
If you’re still using public Wi-Fi, you’re putting your sensitive data at risk. While their easy accessibility is definitely convenient when you’re working or studying, public networks are just as accessible to people who want to steal your data. Fortunately, you can eliminate this risk by using a trustworthy VPN.
Convenience at a price
Internet access is now available just about everywhere you go. With Wi-Fi in libraries, workspaces and your favorite coffee shop, you can work and study online in a comfortable environment of your own choosing. However, this convenience has a cost. Whenever something is that freely available, it means it’s also available to people with bad intentions. And the ways they can take advantage are, despite appearances, quite numerous.
When you use public Wi-Fi without a VPN, not only are hackers able to get a sneak peek at your online data, but they can also manipulate it and install malware on your device. For the average internet user, this process is not visible. And if you are not aware of it, you feel safe despite what’s happening below the surface.
One of the easiest attacks to launch on a public network is network snooping. With publicly available software, you can access all the data being processed on devices connected to the public network. This doesn’t just include your communications, like chat conversations, file sharing and social media. It also involves crucial security and financial data, such as your bank login and password or payment details you use.
An unsecured hotspot with no password is usually asking for trouble. Hackers take advantage of busy people who need immediate access to a network – hence, they offer unsecured and unencrypted hotspots. Often the name of the network mimics the name of a local library or coffee shop to gain the user’s trust. If the network is unencrypted, it means that anyone can see the data traveling along the network. These hotspots can trick or manipulate user data once you connect to them.
Protect your data with a VPN
So what’s the solution? Stop using public Wi-Fi networks? For many people, it’s just not practical to do so. But there are ways to use these hotspots and stay safe. One simple thing you can do is pay attention to the information given by your browser: If it tells you that the connection is not secure (if a website has no SSL certificate), trust your browser and leave the site.
While this is always a good practice, just paying attention to the SSL certificate or lack thereof is not enough, as hackers may base their attacks not on unsecured sites, but on networks. This is where a VPN comes to the rescue.
A good VPN service protects your device and information by encrypting all your data through any network, so no one can see it or access it – other than the VPN provider, of course. Even then, a proper no-log VPN (like Opera’s VPN Pro) should immediately discard this data.
An encrypted connection makes your data in its pure form visible only to you and the website you visit. This means that neither hackers nor even your ISP (Internet Service Provider) can view your data without your permission. In addition, a good VPN allows you to mask your location. This makes it harder for bad actors to track you, and also allows you to access content that’s geoblocked or unavailable in your country.
Get started with Opera VPN
One such solution is the free VPN that protects your browsing within Opera but if you want to protect your entire device (and up to 6 devices in total!), we also have a premium VPN solution you can sign up for easily. It’s called VPN Pro, and it’s designed to give you peace of mind online, across your devices. You can choose from 3,000+ private servers in over 30 countries, so you can tailor your browsing to your needs. And it just so happens you can get 50% off if you sign up right now!
By using a VPN, you protect both your data and your device from the prying eyes of outsiders. Enjoy secure internet access at your favorite coffee shop or library, and send files, chat, or make payments without worries – your VPN takes care of the rest.
This Cybersecurity Awareness Month, make the right choice for your privacy and protect yourself with Opera’s VPN Pro. Users in the US and the UK who subscribe before the 21st of October can get an industry-leading VPN for half the price. Get the 50% discount when subscribing to VPN Pro via the Opera Browser for your mobile phone!