Pia VPN is a Virtual Private Network that offers secure and easy-to-use connections for all types of devices. It supports all major VPN protocols (PPTP, L2TP, IPSEC, and SSTP), as well as IKEv2 for added security.
With Pia VPN, you can easily create a VPN connection on many operating systems, such as Windows, macOS, and Linux. In this guide, we’ll show you how to add the Pia VPN app to Google Chrome and begin using the service to securely access Wi-Fi connections.
The first thing you’ll need to do is download the Pia VPN app from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store. After installing and opening the app, you’ll see the splash screen shown below.
On a desktop computer, navigate to the desktop icon of Chrome and click on it to launch Google Chrome. If you’re on a mobile device, open the Google Play Store and search for “Chrome.” Tap on the Chrome icon and then on the menu at the top of the screen to open the app. In either case, click on the hamburger menu icon (three horizontal lines) in the top right corner to open the app’s settings.
With the app open, click on the gear icon in the top right corner to access the settings. You’ll now see the Connections page as shown below.
On a mobile device, scroll down the page and make sure the Pia VPN checkbox is to the right of the list. On a desktop computer, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the Save button. You’ll then be returned to the Connections page. On both devices, you’ll see the green lock icon in the top right corner next to the Pia VPN label. This icon indicates a secure connection and that your information is private.
Having established a secure connection to our VPN service, it’s time to add it to Chrome so we can use it to connect to Wi-Fi networks.
On a desktop computer, navigate via the Chrome menu to Settings. In the search bar at the top of the screen, type “privacy” and then hit Enter. You’ll be presented with a list of suggestions. Select “Privacy & Security” from the list and then click on the gear icon in the top right corner to open the settings.
From here, you’ll be able to select “VPN” from the drop-down menu and tap on the “+” button to add our VPN connection to the list. Give it a memorable name (we’ll call ours “My VPN Connection”) and then click on the connect button to connect to our VPN server.
On a mobile device, navigate to Settings and then click on the gear icon in the top right corner to open the settings. Alternatively, if you’re already in Settings and you have a fingerprint ID, you can simply click on the ID to access the settings.
From here, you can connect to VPN as described above for a desktop computer. Once you have your VPN connection added, you’ll see a padlock icon (with a key icon in the center) in the address bar at the top of the page. A similar icon will also appear in the notification area (at the top of the screen) next to the time and date.
This icon indicates that your connection is secured and that no one else can access your data (unless they know the specific URL for your connection). Even when you’re not using a VPN, the icon will display the same way. However, when you are using a VPN, you won’t see this icon unless you are actively connected to VPN (and even then, it may only briefly appear before you re-establish your connection).
Let’s say that you’re now connected to the VPN but you want to access a network that’s not secured by the service (for example, a Wi-Fi network your friend has configured at a café). To do this, you’ll need to exit the VPN and then re-enter it when you’re back on the open network. This is called a “mixed network” and it’s the bane of any VPN user’s existence. Luckily, our guide will show you how to do this correctly.
To exit VPN, click on the gear icon in the upper right corner to open the settings. Scroll to the bottom of the page to find the option to disconnect the VPN connection (you’ll see the red “X” next to the connection name). Once you disconnect the VPN connection, you’ll be back on the open network. However, at this point, your device will not be properly configured to access untrusted networks. To fix this, you’ll need to reconnect to the VPN. Once you reconnect, you’ll see the green lock icon in the upper right corner next to the VPN label again. This indicates that your device is now properly configured and you can now access any network that you want.
Having established a secure connection to a VPN, how do you use it to access private and secure Wi-Fi networks? Let’s say that you want to access a private Wi-Fi hotspot at a café. Without using a VPN, you’ll need to navigate to the hotspot’s network and log in with the appropriate credentials. After logging in, you’ll see a grey bar at the top of the browser window. You can’t browse the internet while connected to a private Wi-Fi hotspot without using a VPN.
To prevent online eavesdropping by hackers, VPNs often prevent internet addresses (URLs) from being displayed. Instead, many URLs will show the word “www. ” followed by a series of numbers (for example, www. 123. abc. com). To view a website’s actual URL, you can right-click on the grey bar and then click on the “show address” option. A small menu will appear with the option to “Toggle privacy mode.” Choose “Privacy mode” and then click on the “X” in the upper right corner to exit privacy mode (keeping the bar hidden) and then reconnect to the VPN to access the private Wi-Fi network.
Once you’ve successfully connected to a VPN and accessed a private network, how do you keep that connection secure? To prevent anybody (including a network administrator at the café) from snooping on your activity, you’ll need to ensure that your device doesn’t accidentally release any identifying information. To do this, Google Chrome comes with a “security” feature that can automatically close all open sockets (including the VPN connection) after clicking on a link in an email or a website. This feature is accessed via the settings menu (gear icon). When the feature is enabled, any attempt to open a new connection will automatically be closed (including the VPN connection). To re-open any previously closed connections, you’ll need to manually re-establish them. This is another common problem that plagues VPN users and it’s the main reason why most people need to manually establish VPN connections every time they use them.
To disable the feature that closes open sockets, navigate to the settings menu (gear icon) and select “Never close sockets based on link types” from the drop-down menu. Now, when you click on a link in an email or a website, the browser will not ask you to confirm that you want to open the linked page. Just tap on the page and you’ll be connected to the VPN. This is the simplest and the most convenient way to use a VPN connection. Unfortunately, this configuration is fairly insecure because anybody with physical access to your computer (or a trusted device used in conjunction with your computer) can still see that you’re connected to the internet via the VPN.
To prevent somebody from snooping on your activity while connected to a VPN, you can use the “Incognito” mode in Google Chrome. To enable this mode, navigate to the settings menu (gear icon) and then select “Incognito.” This will mask your searches, prevent your personal information from being stored on any website that you visit, and prevent applications from accessing your personal data. While in “Incognito” mode, all connections (including the VPN connection) will be closed when you click on a link in an email or a website.