How to Stay Protected When Using Public Wi-Fi with PIA VPN

Public WiFi is a lot safer than it once was, but network administrators and cybercriminals can still see a lot of information about you and your data when you use an unsecured WiFi hotspot. Using a VPN encrypts your data, reroutes it, and sends it back to your original destination, making sure no one can spy on your network traffic.

VPN for Wi-Fi

Do I Need a VPN for Public Wi-Fi?

Yes. Public Wi-Fi networks are hotspots for cybercriminals looking to steal your details. Cybercriminals prowl these unsecured networks waiting for you to connect so they can snoop on your activity and grab your data. This could include sensitive information like your bank details, account logins, and social security number.

Some public networks might have safety measures in place, but most don’t. You never know who’s behind public Wi-Fi, or what they’re doing with your data. At best, they could just be nosy, wanting to see what you’re doing. At worst, they could be logging your information to share with third parties or use for fraud or identity theft. That’s why you need a Wi-Fi VPN.

A VPN encrypts your connection, making it virtually impossible for anyone to look at what you’re doing. When you connect to a VPN server, it redirects your traffic through a secure, private tunnel. All outsiders can see is the VPN tunnel – they can’t see what’s inside it. The encryption changes your searches and activity to unreadable code, so anyone peeking can’t make sense of it. That means your information stays concealed so you can surf the web without being watched.

The dangers of public Wi-Fis


What Makes Public Wi-Fi Networks Unsafe?

Many public Wi-Fi networks have weak security, which is exactly why cybercriminals target them – and you.

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The Risks of Using Public Wi-Fi without a VPN

Using public Wi-Fi without a VPN could leave you open to risks, including identity theft, malware, and having your data stolen.

Packet Sniffing

Packet Sniffing

Network administrators and cybercriminals can use packet sniffing software to spy on your activity. This allows them to monitor traffic traveling across the network, so they can see your searches, visited websites, and private information. That can leave you vulnerable to data logging and tracking, or worse, injection of malicious code and attacks from cybercriminals.

Man-in-the-Middle Attacks

Cybercriminals can use Man-in-the-Middle attacks to intercept the traffic between your device and the websites you’re visiting. They get in the middle of your connection so they can eavesdrop on you and steal your data. If you’re banking online, they could steal your account details and take money.

Man-in-the-Middle Attacks
Malware

Malware

Cybercriminals can exploit weaknesses in public networks to distribute malware and other harmful software onto your device. The moment you do, they infect your device with malware, so they can snoop on your activity, steal information, and even take control over your device.

Identity Theft

Public Wi-Fi networks rarely have encryption, so everything you do while connected is visible to outside snoopers. If that snooper is a cybercriminal, they might get their hands on your email addresses, zip code, or bank account information, and attempt to impersonate you online.

Identity Theft
Evil Twin Attack

Evil Twin Attack

Cybercriminals can set up fake Wi-Fi networks that look trustworthy, luring you in so you connect. This can give them unauthorized access to your device, so they can steal your personal information or spy on your online habits.

Data Breaches

If a public Wi-Fi network isn’t encrypted, everything you do is exposed. This can leave information like photos, messages, and credit card details up for grabs, making you vulnerable to data breaches.

Data Breaches

How a VPN Protects You on Public Networks

A VPN encrypts your device’s connection before it sends any data to the public Wi-Fi router. This makes your traffic unreadable, so it won’t make sense to anyone trying to eavesdrop on your connection.

A VPN moves your data through a secure, encrypted tunnel that’s blocked from outsiders, so anyone trying to see your activity, can’t. No one can get in the middle of your connection to see what you’re doing. Your online searches, information, and device activity all stay concealed within the VPN tunnel.

Avoid WiFi Surveillance & Attacks

How to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi

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Use a VPN

A VPN is the best way to stay secure on public Wi-Fi. PIA encrypts your connection, concealing it from outside snoopers, including cybercriminals and network administrators.

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Disable Automatic Connections

Your device might connect to nearby public Wi-Fi automatically, which could accidentally expose your information. Disable automatic connections to avoid unsecured networks.

Proven No-Logs Policy

Check before You Connect

Only connect to Wi-Fi networks you can trust. You can also check router IP addresses with the one on your device to make sure it’s not a malicious network set up by a cybercriminal.

Unlimited Bandwidth

Disable File sharing

Turn off file sharing, including Apple AirDrop. Otherwise, a cybercriminal could send a malicious file to your device, or use it as a way to gain entry.

In-Demand Protocols

Avoid Sensitive Accounts

Unless you have your VPN turned on, avoid accessing sensitive accounts like your online banking. Snoopers could easily spy on your information and steal money or your credit card details.

Open-Source Security

Log Out of Accounts

Staying logged into accounts like social media platforms can make you an easier target for cybercriminals wanting to steal your information. Log out of apps and websites before connecting to public Wi-Fi.

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Update Your Device

Outdated software and apps can lead to security vulnerabilities that cybercriminals can exploit to attack you or gain access to your device. Keep your device and all apps up to date.

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Access Secure Sites

Only access HTTPs-enabled sites. Cybercriminals might try to redirect you to unsecured or malware-ridden sites to expose and steal your information. Leave any sites that don’t use HTTPs.

Benefits of Using PIA’s VPN on Public Wi-Fi

No Logs VPN

Global Server Network

You can connect to secure, fast servers in 91 countries and switch your IP address to any location you like.

Powerful encryption VPN

Lightning-Fast Speeds

Our servers give you blazing-fast speeds and unlimited bandwidth. Stream, game, and browse as much as you like, free from speed limits on our 10-Gbps network.

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Unbeatable Security

PIA secures your traffic with powerful encryption and leading protocols to keep your activities safely concealed from snoops, including public Wi-Fi administrators and cybercriminals.

pia split tunneling

Zero Activity Logs

Unlike public Wi-Fi owners, PIA never tracks, records, or shares any usage data. Our independently-audited no-logs policy means just that – no logs.

prevent data leaks

Advanced Kill Switch

Our advanced kill switch makes sure your activity is never exposed to prying eyes, even if shaky public Wi-Fi disrupts your VPN connection.

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Built-In Ad & Malware Blocker

PIA’s MACE feature blocks harmful ads, online trackers, and malicious websites to help you stay safe on public networks.

Encrypt Your Data in Seconds

Purchase the plan that’s right for you, then follow these simple steps:

Step 1

Open the PIA app

Step 2

Connect to any server

Step 3

Use a protected connection!

Packet Sniffing

Can a Public Wi-Fi Owner Track Your Activity?

Yes. Network administrators can see everything you do while you’re connected to their router. This includes Wi-Fi owners at work, school, or even your holiday rental.

Many public Wi-Fi owners track and log your information so they can sell it to advertisers. This gives marketers access to your online searches and history, plus other information like your email address. They can then use this data to target you with ads or send annoying emails.

Can Public Wi-Fi Networks Block VPNs?

Most public Wi-Fi networks don’t block VPNs, but that doesn’t mean they can’t. Some networks might attempt to block VPN IP addresses with firewalls to stop you from accessing the internet. This means they can continue to spy on you and track your activity. Other public networks also try to block VPNs to comply with local regulations, especially if you’re in a country with intense surveillance laws.

Can Public Wi-Fi Networks Block VPNs?
stay safe on all of your devices

Public Wi-Fi Protection on Every Device

PIA VPN has dedicated apps for all devices you use with public Wi-Fi, including iPhone/iPad, Mac, Android, Linux, Windows, and more. You also get unlimited simultaneous connections, so you can keep your information protected on every device, anywhere you go.

If you need any help setting up our apps, reach out to our friendly customer support. They’re available 24/7.

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FAQ

All kinds of personal information is vulnerable on public Wi-Fi. Your connection isn’t encrypted, so anyone snooping on your traffic can see what you’re doing and which information you’re sharing online. This could include your email address, location and zip code, bank account and financial information, or account logins.

Yes. Network administrators can see your traffic while connected, which includes public hotspots at work, school, on local transport, or elsewhere. Most public Wi-Fi networks also keep a log of everything you do, so even after you’ve logged off, they have a record of your activity. Some network administrators can sell this information, especially to advertisers who want details about your internet history.

Not without a VPN. Connecting to a public Wi-Fi network doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to be attacked by a cybercriminal, but it does leave you exposed and at risk. Many cybercriminals monitor these networks waiting for you to slip up, connect to a fake hotspot, or click an unsafe link. Network administrators can also monitor your activity, even if they don’t want to do anything with it. To boost your privacy and keep your information safe, download PIA VPN. Our VPN encrypts your traffic to make it invisible to any network snoopers. With nothing to see, they have nothing to spy on or steal.

You can’t always be sure a public Wi-Fi connection is safe. If you see multiple hotspots at one location, speak to someone first to find out which is the right Wi-Fi to connect to. Other networks could be fake hotspots set up by cybercriminals. You can also ask for the Wi-Fi router’s IP address to determine whether it matches the network shown on your device. If in doubt, don't connect. Even when you do, make sure you turn your VPN on to encrypt your connection.

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Disclaimer: Using PIA VPN for illegal purposes is a violation of our Terms of Service.

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