Protect your PC

Staying Safe While Using Public WiFi

It’s like a virtual Petri dish out there

A few years ago, I attended a tech conference. There was a station where the demonstrators claimed to be able to hack into your phone in under a minute.

“I have an iPhone, ” I thought, “do your worst.” And they did. In 30 seconds. I was horrified. This illusion of safety I labored under was just that, an illusion. And it was all made possible by the public WiFi we both shared.

For years I’ve stayed away from public WiFi as a result. I encourage my friends and family to do the same, explaining frequently how public WiFi is basically a Petri dish where you can catch all sorts of digital germs.

I use my phone’s data when scrolling on my mobile or activate my hotspot WiFi for my laptop. But that just isn’t realistic. While I have an unlimited data plan, it doesn’t cover unlimited hotspot data. There had to be a better way.

Recently, I contacted one of my co-workers here at PC Matic about a VPN, which was what the demonstrators at the tech conference were selling. My co-worker is a private guy, so I knew he’d already done his research on VPNs. After a quick glance through the website, I signed up for a 3 year term.

After installing the VPN on all my family’s devices, I finally gave them the go ahead to use public WiFi. So let’s talk a little about VPNs and how they can keep you safe.

What is a VPN?

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. Basically it works by replacing your device’s IP address with one within the VPN service while also encrypting your data.

While you may live in Detroit, your device will show as being anywhere from Dubai to LA. Additionally, your data is encrypted (think of it like wrapping something in a protective coating) to keep other people using the same network from being able to see what you’re transmitting.

Why use a VPN?

As security threats increase, security measures have to rise to meet them. If you’re a regular reader of Tech Talk, you know we encourage whitelist based antivirus solutions here at PC Matic. Government agencies across the US have been recommending it for years as well.

But when you’re out in the wild, you want to make sure you’re doing all you can to stay safe. A VPN is easy to set up and use and provides you with extra protection and peace of mind while scrolling online.

How do I choose one?

There are, of course, tons of options out there for VPN services. Free VPN services exist, but as the old adage goes, “you get what you pay for.” It’s been proven that paid services work a little bit better. And, trust me, they are very affordable.

A quick search on “what VPN is right for me” will help you narrow down services by what you find important. In the end, your online safety is in your own hands.

For a list of ransomware attacks that have already taken place in 2019, you may click here. We have also created a map, see below, of the ransomware attacks that have taken place in the U.S.

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