Perhaps naked is a bit salacious, but it’s the best way to illustrate exactly what is happening when people hop online to check email or Facebook, or any other site that requires highly sensitive personal details like passwords, logins, bank account numbers, or Social Security numbers.
What happens when people use public wifi without any “clothes” — or privacy — is that they become extremely vulnerable to hacking, identity theft, credit fraud, and a host of other privacy violations.
Always Use Protection
Put another way, a mere 18% of people actually are protected in wireless hotspots. This figure likely comes from those working for large corporations, since most large businesses provide a VPN for their employees who travel.
But if you’re not one of that 18%, don’t worry, as you do have options.
In fact, the Wi-Fi Alliance, the leading global industry association devoted to wifi connectivity, is now officially recommending that you install a personal VPN when accessing the Internet in any number of wireless hotspots such as airports, cafes, and restaurants. The Wi-Fi Alliance points out that protecting personal data when accessing a public wifi hotspot is a personal responsibility — not something consumers can rely on via the hotspot provider or website they are visiting.
“Use VPN technology to encrypt your activity. If you travel a lot and must transmit sensitive data over public Wi-Fi networks, it’s wise to use virtual private network software, which creates an encrypted tunnel for your data to flow through the Internet. Many large companies provide VPN technology to their employees and require them to use it while traveling to protect valuable corporate information. If your company does not provide you with a VPN, there are now a number of user-friendly and affordable consumer VPNs on the market.”