If you spend any amount of time at all using public Wi-Fi, you’ll eventually run into issues with your personal security and data privacy. The number of data breaches over the past few years has shaken the confidence of many users in maintaining privacy and security when connected to public Wi-Fi. It doesn’t help that many public hotspots are unsecured, which means hackers can potentially intercept your data as it flows by.
To combat this, you can try using a VPN to encrypt your traffic and mask your ISP and location, allowing you to connect to a remote network device with complete confidence that your data will be secure.
Let’s walk through a step-by-step guide on how to connect to a remote network device using an SSL VPN so you can encrypt all your internet traffic and maintain your privacy and security when online:
Step 1: Install and Configure the VPN App
You’ll first need to download and install the VPN app on your phone or tablet. There are a number of great VPN apps available for all major operating systems, so you should have no trouble finding one that suits your needs. When installing the app, make sure you configure it to connect to a remote network device whenever available (this can be set up in the app itself, or through the network administrator in the settings). You can also download and install the VPN app on a desktop computer or laptop for those who want to use it on the go.
Step 2: Set Up the Remote Network Device
Now that you have the VPN app installed and configured, you’ll need to set up the remote network device (laptop, desktop, etc.) to which you will be connecting. If you’re using a Mac or Linux-based computer, this will be fairly easy to do. Just click the Apple logo on your iPad or iPhone to launch the Settings app, then click WiFi under the icon that appears. From here, you can see the available networks and select the one you want to connect to. Once you’ve connected to the network, you can click the lock icon () to open the Settings app again, then click VPN under the WiFi heading. From here, you can check the VPN connection and status, along with other settings that may be applicable (e.g., a username and password for the VPN if it’s not set up automatically).
If you’re using a Windows-based computer or laptop, things can get a little more complicated. First, launch the Network and Internet settings app, then click the VPN tab. Here you will see a list of all the available VPN clients for Windows. Click the download button next to the one you want to use (this will start the download and install of the VPN client), then click the Set This Up button. You will now have to set up the VPN client on your computer. For instructions, click the “Help” button at the top of the screen. You will then be prompted to enter your VPN account information, which you can find inside the downloaded folder.
Step 3: Test the Connection
Once you’ve set up the VPN app on your phone and the remote network device, you can test the connection by launching the app and connecting to the network. You should now see a VPN icon () in the status bar at the top of your screen. When you connect to a VPN, all your internet traffic is encrypted and can’t be intercepted by hackers who may be trying to steal your identity or data. This includes all your communications with the server (e.g., emails, search queries, etc.). Your personal security and data privacy is greatly improved when using a VPN.
If everything is set up correctly, you should now be able to connect to a remote network device and launch the app, then immediately click the lock button () to open the Settings app. You can now access your VPN settings, in addition to any other settings specific to the device you’re using (e.g., Wi-Fi password, language, etc.). If you’ve set something up incorrectly or want to verify any settings, follow the prompts in the app or settings to do so.
Step 4: Manage Your VPN Account
Your VPN account is a vital part of using a VPN. This is the account you will use to connect to the VPN via your phone or other devices. Your VPN account will need to be able to store a lot of information, so it’s important to keep it secure. Never share your password with anyone, and change it regularly (ideally, every month).
VPNs are not free, and connecting to one requires you to pay a subscription fee, which varies depending on the type of plan you choose. The good news is you can get a free trial or discounted subscription from many providers, which allows you to try out the service without risk. Many providers also offer generous discounts for students and teachers, as well as people concerned with privacy and security (e.g., online privacy and security experts, journalists, etc.).
If you decide that you like the service, you can purchase a subscription at a discounted rate from here. Just follow the instructions to complete the sign-up process, then you’ll be taken to a secure, encrypted page where you can manage your account.
Step 5: Use the VPN While You Are On the Go
Now that you have a VPN account set up and working, you can use it whenever you want while on the go. This means you can connect to a public Wi-Fi connection when you are out and about, then launch the app to encrypt all your traffic and hide your identity and location. Your security and privacy will be greatly improved compared to connecting to unsecure networks or open Wi-Fi hotspots. Remember to always use a trusted VPN when on the go, as connecting to a VPN does not guarantee you’ll always be protected from hackers and other threats.
Whether you’re on the road, at home, or at a coffee shop with Wi-Fi, you can now protect your identity and data by connecting to a remote network device and using the app to access your VPN account. Remember to always use a trusted and reliable VPN, as not all of them are created equal and some can be quite the security risk if you aren’t careful.