Is It Safe to Use a VPN Like NordVPN on a Public Wi-Fi Connection?

Since the beginning of this year, there has been a sharp rise in the number of people choosing to use a VPN to remotely access private and confidential data while traveling. In particular, the number of users choosing to use NordVPN has increased by 44% on our forums since the beginning of the year.

Is using a VPN on a public Wi-Fi connection safe?

Whether you’re traveling for business or leisure, you’ll always have the option to use a VPN to encrypt your Internet traffic and keep your personal data secure while browsing the web or downloading files. Many large businesses utilize VPNs as a matter of policy, and increasingly, individuals and amateurs are taking advantage of this trend as well.

However, using a VPN on a public Wi-Fi connection raises more questions than answers. To fully understand the repercussions of using a VPN on a public Wi-Fi connection, let’s take a quick trip down memory lane and revisit some of the most significant events that helped create this trend.

The Rise In Mobile Use

For years, the vast majority of people chose to use public Wi-Fi to connect to the Internet rather than purchase a cellular data plan. This was largely due to the high cost of cellular data and the inability to predict if you’d have coverage or not when you needed it. For those who did decide to purchase a cellular data plan, the choice was often between limited data options and higher costs.

With the explosion of mobile devices and the rise of unlimited data plans offered by major cellular providers, people are now more interested in purchasing a device for traveling than they are in purchasing a device for making calls.

The Growth Of Business Travel

In recent years, the rapid rise of mobile use has caused business travel to become popular among employees. Nowadays, traveling to a client or prospect for business can be much more convenient and cost-effective than having to stay in town. This is likely why the number of posts asking for help with business travel has increased by 132% on our forums since last year.

With the growth of mobile use and businesses’ push for increased productivity, VPNs have become an ideal tool for both employees and businesses working remotely.

Increasingly, People Are Using VPNs On Road Trips

The increasing popularity of mobile use and business travel has caused people to seek out travel-friendly setups and VPNs specifically designed for use while traveling. In particular, posts on our forums asking for recommendations on which VPN to use while on the road have increased by 77% since last year.

Many large businesses utilize VPNs to ensure employees can access private and confidential data while working remotely for the company. Some examples include Google, which uses ProtonVPN, and Microsoft, which uses ExpressVPN. In addition, many individuals are now choosing to use VPNs while traveling for leisure, as well. Popular VPNs designed with travel in mind include NordVPN and TorGuard.

It is important to note that using a VPN on a public Wi-Fi connection is not entirely safe. In fact, it can sometimes be more dangerous than using an unsecured connection. To fully understand why, let’s examine the three most significant security risks associated with using a public Wi-Fi connection.

Theft

To begin with, it is worth noting that the recent data breaches at Facebook and LinkedIn have raised serious questions about the security of our personal information. In the wake of these breaches, many people have become wary of sharing personal information on the web and would rather keep that information private. As a result, posts regarding data privacy have increased by 774% and 414% on our forums since LinkedIn and Facebook were hacked, respectively.

One of the primary concerns of those who fear data theft is that their personal information could be gathered by a thief and used for fraudulent purposes. In the worst case scenario, the information could be used to make cyber attacks against the user, or even the entire organization.

To prevent this from happening, it is important to note that personal information is often shared in the clear (unencrypted) on public Wi-Fi connections. To avoid this and ensure that your personal information remains private, use a VPN.

DDoS Attacks

A cyber attack that temporarily takes down a website or service by flooding it with Internet traffic is known as a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. When a DDoS attack happens, it usually affects several different websites and services at the same time. As a result, many people choose to use VPNs to protect themselves from the repercussions of a DDoS attack.

To perform a DDoS attack, an individual or group will first need to identify a target website or service they wish to attack. For example, they may choose to target the website for Starbucks, which is often plagued by hackers and cyber thieves, or they may choose to target the website for the United States government, which is frequently criticized for its poor security.

Once they have chosen a target, they will have to choose a service to perform the DDoS attack. It is important to note that there are several different types of DDoS attacks, and any one of them can be quite harmful. Some examples include a slow, steady stream of requests that eat up the resources of a server (raids, which are often carried out by organized crime), or a more sophisticated attack that mimics human behavior (spam, which is often associated with hackers and cyber criminals).

To prevent DDoS attacks, it is important to note that many services, such as Cloudflare and Networked IT, offer protection against DDoS attacks for free. However, it is still recommended that you use a VPN to further improve your security posture.

Man-in-the-Middle Attacks

Just as with a DDoS attack, a man-in-the-middle attack occurs when a third party (in this case, a hacker or a cyber criminal) gets between you and the website or service you wish to access. In a man-in-the-middle attack, your personal information could be intercepted by the hacker or cyber criminal. To prevent this from happening, it is important to note that many services, such as Cloudflare and 1&1, offer protection against man-in-the-middle attacks for free. However, it is still recommended that you use a VPN to further improve your security posture.

To fully understand how VPNs work, it is important to note that they are based on a public/private keypair. This means that in order to access a website or service protected by a VPN, you will need to have the private key of the keypair. In most cases, the private key is only available to the person or organization that owns the VPN. This ensures that only the intended recipient has the ability to access the content. In the event that the key is lost, it can be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to retrieve it. As a result, the only option is to reinstall the entire system or set of keys.

To prevent man-in-the-middle attacks, it is important to note that many services, such as Cloudflare and 1&1, offer protection against this for free. In addition, it is recommended that you use a VPN to ensure that only you can access the content and that others cannot view your private information. This way, if a hacker or cyber criminal does perform a man-in-the-middle attack, it will only be the website/service owner who suffers the consequences.

Taking a few minutes to set up a VPN on your mobile device can be quite easy. Once you do, it will be easier for you to access private and confidential data while traveling. In most cases, the only requirement is for you to have a Google account. From there, you can choose a free VPN that is suitable for your device and connect to private and confidential data wherever you go. In most cases, this will be safer and more convenient than using an unsecured connection, and it won’t cost you anything.

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